featuring Japan-France and five questions about the Blues’ first friendly

The XV of France challenges the Japanese this Saturday morning (8:00 am) for the first game of their summer tour.

Where can you watch the Blues’ first friendly?

After much hesitation to know if the tour of the XV. would be broadcast by France, it was TF1 that eventually acquired the rights to the double confrontation between the Japanese and the Blues. A meeting commented by François Trillo and Benjamin Kayser. Early kick-off, scheduled for 8am. A meeting that is also followed live with commentary Le Figaro Sport.

Tanga and Jolmès, two novices thrown in at the deep end

For this summer tour, Fabien Galthié and his collaborators had to compose without the top 14 finalists (Montpelliérains and Castrais), as well as certain executives who had to rest (Dupont, Ntamack, Jelonch, Alldritt). Two players are making their international debuts this Saturday: UBB second line Thomas Jolmès and future Stade Rochelais number 8 Yoan Tanga (ex-Racing 92).

“Thomas Jolmes is in good shape, he’s had a good season with Bordeaux, Galthié recalled. It seems to us, given the first two weeks of work, that he is very relevant in his actions, in his game, in his role. He’s comfortable too.” And to add thong: “Yoan was very successful the week before the England game with the British Barbarians, he played 80 minutes at a very high level in the number 8 position when we were 14 for more than half … He already has something special experienced.” first selection”, he deserves to continue on his way.”

Where is Japan really?

This is the great unknown of this tour. Since the last World Cup organized in its country, Japan has only played eight games due to the health crisis. At the same time, France played … 25! “The first year (in 2020), We didn’t play, and last year we only played a few games. And so we are lagging behind in development” recently explained the Japanese coach, the New Zealander Jamie Joseph, who is stripped of managers (Horie, Saito and Noguchi) due to Covid.

Of the eight games they have played, the Japanese have won just three, against modest sides, Portugal (38-25) and twice Uruguay (34-15 and 43-7). In autumn, the Cherry Blossoms, tenth in the world rankings, were beaten by the Irish (60:5). Will they be able to recover?

Only four confrontations in history

France has never faced Japan on its land. The two teams met four times. The first time was in 1973 at Parc Lescure (now Stade Chaban-Delmas) in Bordeaux, for a 30-18 win for the Tricolores, scoring six tries from Gilles Delaigue, Max Barrau, Olivier Saisset, Jean-Michel Aguirre and Jean-Claude had Skrela and Roland Bertranne.

As a result, the French and the Japanese met twice at the World Cup, with two French victories: 51-29 in 2003 and 47-21 in 2011. In their fourth game so far in 2017, the Japanese had managed to claim victory to gain a draw (23:23) in the Paris La Défense Arena against the spooky Blues. A historic underperformance that led to the sacking of Guy Novès, who had been in office for a year and a half.

Expected return of Captain Ollivon

A tour to revive. Charles Ollivon had a complicated year. This is due to a cruciate ligament tear in Castres on the last day of the 2020-2021 season. He only returned to the field on March 12 during a loss to RC Toulon on the Montpellier turf (18-16). The flanker has played just 11 games this season. As a result, for the first time since 2010, he did not take part in the Grand Slam, which was played by the Blues during the Six Nations tournament. In his absence, Antoine Dupont took over the interim leadership of the XV of France. An interim that could turn into a permanent contract?

Two years ago, Ollivon was essential in his role as captain. It remains to be seen whether this will change… Karim Ghezal, the assistant coach responsible for the sidelines, had made it clear before his flight to Japan: “We are very excited about the return of Charles, who is always full of desire and quality. He’s in great form and his appointment hasn’t been discussed because, apart from being someone very humble and very simple, his performance on the field speaks for him.

A historic record in sight

If it succeeds against Japan this Saturday, Fabien Galthié’s XV of France will go down in history by being the first to sign nine straight wins. The Blues last lost on July 17, 2021 in the third and final friendly against the Australians (30:33). Since then, the Habs have not lost, notably signing a prestigious hit against the All Blacks and achieving the Grand Slam in the tournament.

In the past, the Blues had managed such a series of eight wins three times in a row. It was managed by Bernard Laporte every time: 1998, 2002 and 2004. Note that Fabien Galthié was a player for the XV of France at the time. But this Saturday he can definitely step into the legend of French rugby.

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