Why did you change your method by waiting until midweek to define your team composition? Fabien Galthié: We changed the method. We decided to mix up the teams, not to confuse the issue – we’re not there yet -, but to gain energy, to challenge the players. At the start of the Tournament, we needed to rely on automation. Here we are in the 7th week of training, we have reached a certain level of homogeneity. So we looked for energy, tried to raise the level of training. We felt that we could change the way we were going to approach the collective. We therefore challenged the players in pairs by mixing them. The goal was to be clear: see on certain positions which were the freshest, the most available. We warned the players that we were going to do this. We are completely transparent with them. And we are not stopping ourselves from doing anything, including evolving the content of our method.

How did you experience the days following the draw against Italy? There are things I will share and others I will keep to myself. How I go ? I am always very happy and very inhabited by this mission, with what we go through in terms of positive or negative emotions. We hope and we will soon be better, that’s for sure. But today we are going through a difficult, tough period. No one is satisfied because people are very demanding of us. We can contrast it with the past period and the 80% victories. It was difficult too. Don’t think it was easy. These are heavy and arduous missions. When it works well, very well, even perfectly, we also have to be very committed, very resilient. We are in a cycle where we are not at the level we want to be. We are in a period of resilience, which is difficult to live with. But it only increases my motivation, increases my desire to succeed.

You don’t seem dejected by this period… Looking back, we say to ourselves that this must happen in a journey. But I am convinced of one thing: it is the strength of character that counts, that of the people and the collective, the passion we have to carry out this commitment. Commitment is the strongest word I can offer you as an answer. Commitment, but also determination and lucidity. You have to be fair, in happy moments as in difficult moments, you have to find, and the challenge is interesting, the balance between the desire to succeed, the resistance to pain, or, sometimes, to pleasure to always find the right one. cursor. The great thing about what we do is that we have to accept happiness but also suffering and pain. That there are strong times and weak times. And you have to be good especially in weak times. You have to know how to live with it… In this (Friday) morning’s briefing, I recalled some press headlines from 2022 after our victory in Wales and I compared them with 2024. When we commit, we assume the good times as well as difficult ones. And I find that passion is even stronger when it’s difficult.

You are starting four novices on Sunday in Cardiff, which is unusual. What were your thoughts? First, two places became available with an injury (Jalibert) and a suspension (Danty). Then there’s the performance. I always said you had to go get the jersey. This is what happened this week… First, in the middle, I have a thought for Jonathan Danty. It’s hard for him. Nicolas Depoortère succeeds him. He has been training with us for a year. So we know him and he was prepared. This is a first constructed selection. Then, Nolann Le Garrec (first tenure but already 3 selections, Editor’s note). He accompanied us on the tour to Japan and made three convincing returns in this Tournament. He is very strong with Racing, and with us. He came to get his jersey consistently. Léo Barré is the same. He has been coming to train with us regularly for more than two years. He is performing, so, naturally, he came to get his jersey with Matthieu Jalibert’s injury since Thomas Ramos, who is one of the leaders, who has great experience, who knows our system, our organization well, we bring him to the heart of the game, as close as possible to the ball. Léo Barré, with his speed qualities, his aerial qualities, will bring us a lot. Next, Emmanuel Meafou. We’ve been waiting for it for over a year. His naturalization and then his injury simply delayed the moment. Finally, Georges-Henri Colombe. He came with us three years ago. And we’ve been waiting for it ever since. It took a long time to come. This is his path. I think he is ready both in his head and in his body… Despite our desire for consistency and logic, it is in this Tournament that there have been the most first capes.

There is also a returning starter, with Julien Marchand. Julien was injured during the opening match of the World Cup against the All Blacks. An injury that took him off the field for a long time. He returns. It seems to us that, for this 4th match, he will bring us his determination. He really is one hell of a soldier. The harder you are, the stronger it is. It is the symbol of resilience and strength of character.

Conversely, Cameron Woki, who has been a starter for more than a year, is leaving the group…I have very strong thoughts for Cameron. The choice was made on freshness and emulation. Alexandre Roumat performs in different positions, with an aerial and combative profile, he is driven by the dynamics of his club (Toulouse). We favored the form of the moment to let Cameron breathe and recover, to come back even stronger. These are special moments, that’s for sure, but he’s part of the France group, he’s there.

What do you expect from the Welsh, who have lost their first three matches of the Tournament? I told the players that, on our previous two visits, it was an older, more experienced Welsh team, wearing Grand Slams and lots of selections. This time, we will face a younger but brave team. Bravery and self-sacrifice are the heart of their rugby. They bear the responsibility for their nation. And they have talent… Not forgetting the stadium in the middle of the city of Cardiff, with the roof closed. This is the context we will be faced with on Sunday.

A word about Antoine Dupont. Do you feel a pang in your heart at not having him among you when you see him shine at 7? (He shakes his head several times) Here too, I will be transparent. This project has existed for two years. In April 2022, after our Grand Slam, Antoine and Jérôme Daret (the coach of France 7) spoke to me about it. And I say congratulations to them, it’s great. For us, Antoine will free up a place which will allow other players to take on these responsibilities. And I am the first supporter of the French 7s team. I am so proud that this team managed to win this trophy after having been running since 2005. It gives hope to the entire rugby 7s industry. We will be their first supporters during the Olympics. So I am very happy for France 7, very happy for Antoine, who took up the challenge after only one month at 7. It seems to me that this boy has talent and is gifted (laughs). But it also means gaining time for the XV of France. If I look ahead, this investment by Antoine will bear fruit in view of the 2027 World Cup.

Comments collected at a press conference