The draw against Italy was therefore one disappointment too many for Fabien Galthié. After the first two rounds of this Six Nations Tournament – a rout in Marseille against Ireland, a lucky victory in Edinburgh – the coach had nevertheless rejected the idea of ​​infusing his team with new blood. “There is an important concept in our team: the value of trust and the value of men. Rugby is not the “Star Academy”. It’s not “Koh-Lanta” either. The players are not there by chance. They came to get the jersey with their journey, their injuries, their strengths. Sometimes we have the right to be a little less strong individually. They are human beings. And nothing says change… In any case, we are convinced that massive turnovers don’t work, not with this team, not with its history. »

This plea for the status quo, the coach had pronounced it before the Lille purge, this first defeat at home in the Tournament against the Transalpins which was looming until Paolo Garbisi saw, in the last seconds of the match, his penalty of winning crashing into the post.

Also read: Fabien Galthié before Wales-France: “We will soon be better, that’s for sure”

A pitiful, and yet miraculous, 13-13 in a Pierre-Mauroy stadium that had been silent for a long time. No whistles against the Blues, but a latent discontent, the bonus for continuity increasingly contested in post-match conversations. So, before things really heated up, Fabien Galthié initiated the change. Reform rather than risk revolution…

Put aside, the “duty to remember”, gives way to the “form of the moment”. It may not be “Koh-Lanta” but it looks like “The Voice”. Fifteen against fifteen at the start of the week in Marcoussis to “raise the level of training and see in certain positions who was the freshest, the most available”. And for the best, the kettledrum.

In this little game, the coach and his staff rotated their chairs eight times. A team composition changed by half, a backbone, from the hooker to the back, through the second row, the hinge and the center, completely remodeled.

Also read: Romain Taofifenua at Le Figaro: “There is no post-World Cup trauma”

If Matthieu Jalibert (injured) and Jonathan Danty (suspended) left the team before the fight, others paid the price for this new policy (which Galthié tried hard to minimize by evoking a simple “evolution of content of the method”). Exit Cameron Woki and Posolo Tuilagi, respectively sent back to Racing 92 and Perpignan. Exit Maxime Lucu, demoted to the substitutes’ bench. Just like Peato Mauvaka. Gone with the wind of fresh air…

And welcome to a handful of novices, for an unprecedented wave since the start of Fabien Galthié’s mandate. In the Cocotte-Minute of Cardiff, the powerful Toulouse second row Emmanuel Meafou, the captain and center of the U20 world champions Nicolas Depoortère, the Parisian full-back Léo Barré and the very massive La Rochelle pillar Georges-Henri Colombe (coming off the bench ) will honor their first cape. Without forgetting the lively scrum half of Racing 92, Nolann Le Garrec, three selection ends but a first start. A clear rejuvenation of the average age, but not a complete renewal of the executives, Marchand, Flament and Alldritt making their returns to the starting XV.

Fortunately, we are tempted to say, because the environment, at kick-off time, Sunday, in Cardiff (4 p.m., France 2), will not be particularly benevolent. The Principality Stadium indeed takes care of the staging. Stadium, roof closed, plunged into darkness for the entrance of the gladiators. Then, without transition, the flamethrowers raise the temperature in the deafening din of Welsh choirs, Delilah and Land of My Fathers on the hit parade. “I am not likely to stress for very long,” confided Léo Barré. It’s better, because the bombardment of the number 15 tricolor will begin just after…

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Faced with a Welsh team that is also (very) rejuvenated and still in the learning phase (three defeats in as many matches in this Tournament), what can we expect from these new-look Blues, led by Thomas Ramos, promoted number 10? This week, the words were meant to be confident, bravado, almost. From Gaël Fickou, one of the rare veterans to save his head, announcing: “We will quickly become formidable again” to Fabien Galthié, proclaiming: “We will soon be better, that’s for sure. » The commitment to training and the determination displayed by everyone were consistent with the speech. The time for revolt seems to have (finally) come.

The composition of the French . Cros – 5. Meafou, 4. Flament – ​​3. Atonio, 2. Marchand, 1. Baille. Substitutes: 16. Mauvaka, 17. S. Taofifenua, 18. Colombe, 19. R. Taofifenua, 20. Roumat, 21 . Boudehent, 22. Lucu, 23. Moefana.