They have not stepped on the pitch together since the evening of October 15, and the close elimination of “their” World Cup against South Africa (28-29). The French coach, Fabien Galthié, announced, Wednesday January 31, the composition of the French XV responsible for relaunching the forward march of French rugby. Ten “Globalists”, starters in the quarter-final against the Springboks, will be lined up on Friday February 2, in the first shock of the Six Nations Tournament, against Ireland, who won the grand slam last year.

“We have preserved the essential framework which makes the team perform, which is the strength of the team,” declared Fabien Galthié at a press conference. We made strategic choices to have the strongest possible French team. » Anticipating “a big meeting in the balance of power”, the French technician assured that he had selected “the best French players at the moment”.

For this first outing, in Marseille (9 p.m.), of the second part of his mandate – it was renewed in 2022 until 2027 – Fabien Galthié did not want to plan too much, particularly on the next World Cup . If many young players have been called up to prepare for the meeting, the XV of France which will face that of Clover will give pride of place to the experience. “There was no reason to make rotations due to age, the only changes are linked to emulation, performance and competitiveness,” insisted the coach.

First armband for Gregory Alldritt

The great novelty of this Act II is undoubtedly the tenure of Paul Gabrillagues. If he had played in the 2019 World Cup, and been met by the coach before taking office, the second row of Stade Français (30 years old) had not been called up to the France group for four years. “Paul has an ability to carry out obscure tasks, notably rucks or tackles,” explained the new coach of the French attack, Patrick Arlettaz.

“We had to make a choice between a running intensity and a fought intensity, we chose the fought intensity to start the match,” Galthié continued. In the same vein, the powerful center of Union Bordeaux-Bègles, Yoram Moefana, was established on the wing, in place of his teammate in Gironde, Louis Bielle-Biarrey, one of the revelations of the Cup of the world.

Unsurprisingly, the Blues’ game will be entrusted to the Bordeaux hinge, Maxime Lucu – Matthieu Jalibert, in the absence of Romain Ntamack, injured, and Antoine Dupont, who “chose a parenthesis with rugby sevens at the Olympics” , as filmed by Fabien Galthié. Focused on the Olympic Games this season, the captain of the Blues hands over his armband to third row Gregory Alldritt, double European champion with La Rochelle.

Preferred over his third-line friend, Charles Ollivon, first captain of the Galthié era, the Gersois of Scottish origin “brings his European side”, justified the coach. Perfectly bilingual, useful in a sport where only the captain has the right to address the referee and where the majority of referees are Anglo-Saxon, Alldritt “carries an individual and collective vision, he is very efficient, has “experience…, insisted Fabien Galthié. That’s a lot of assets and it seemed obvious to us to move the lines in leadership. » Faced with the Irish winners of the last Tournament, also eliminated in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, the first test for “Captain Greg” promises to be tough.

Thomas Ramos – Damian Penaud, Jonathan Danty, Gael Fickou, Yoram Moefana (o) Matthieu Jalibert, (m) Maxime Lucu – Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt (cap.), Francis Cros – Paul Willemse, Paul Gabrillagues – Uini Atonio, Peato Mauvaka, Cyril Bailey