“Players who go to Japan with us have everything to gain,” promises Ibanez

The 42 players selected for the Tour XV of France in Japan “have everything to gain because they can position themselves for the 2023 World Cup”, the Blues manager assures in an interview with AFP.

What do you expect from this first tour in Japan?
Raphael Ibanez: We hope for players who are fully invested, determined and efficient. Historically, these summer tours have been something of a “weight” in the past. They were seen as a limitation for players after a long season. For us, it’s simply a matter of picking up the thread of our recent successes with the XV of France.

The Australian tour had allowed Melvyn Jaminet to reveal himself, Cameron Woki and Anthony Jelonch to assert themselves…
Absolutely. On the first day of our meeting in Marcoussis, Bernard Laporte set the tone by explaining that the jersey of the XV. of France is sacred and that the 42 players all have the opportunity to express themselves and reveal themselves. For us, this list contains no surprises, because we have gone further than last year. Almost 80 players were tracked and listed in our preselection process. It’s a tour where the players who go with us can actually win anything because they can position themselves.

There are seventeen players in this list without selection, including four from Pro D2…
We don’t know a priori in which category the players play, whether in Pro D2 or Top 14. Of course, what matters to us is their talent and strengths that distinguish them, but also their attitude, their characters… It is this balance that we sought when choosing. That is also the reason why we have integrated young players with high potential from the under 20-year-olds.

You often discuss with Fabien Galthié the role of the “laboratory”, the “incubator” that the assemblies of the XV. make out from France. What is that in practice?
Our first words to the players should accurately reassure them that we will support them as best we can and will use this two days before departure (This Wednesday, editor’s note) for collective reconnection. They were reminded that the XV. of France is certainly in a very good dynamic that they need to be aware of, but that this needs to be a driving force to help them express themselves. We don’t want them to fly away with some kind of weight of recent heritage, representing the XV of France. That they too must bring as much to the team as it brings to themselves. You must be able to express yourself freely.

“With the heat and humidity, it’s going to be terrible in Japan! »

You will be exposed to a hot and humid climate in Japan, how did you plan to adapt to these particular conditions?
This is going to be awful! We try to prepare as best as possible, having in Marcoussis the possibility of benefiting from an environmental space to anticipate these conditions, where players are regularly pushed to make efforts there. And we will acclimatize on site for a week before playing the first test.

What to expect from this Japanese side who haven’t played much since their quarter of the 2019 World Cup?
It’s a team in full swing who will obviously be over the moon to take on what we represent, the ‘European Champion’ and World No. 2. They have very specific characteristics, a game based on execution speed and dynamism, with very fast and very technical players. This means that the problem of the power/speed ratio arises when choosing our selection.

They could go on to a streak of ten straight wins, a record set in the 1930s, is that a goal?
It seems modest to me that this is one of the characteristics of this XV of France for two years: this will to achieve, to concretize goals that have not been achieved for some time. But I prefer to be cautious on the subject, because if we overwhelm players with historical references, I don’t want them to lose what is essential, namely the joy of the game and the joy of expressing themselves without complexes.

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