“Beating England is also a way of starting a small series of two victories in a row, which we have not done since the start of this Tournament.” Patrick Arlettaz, the leader of the French attack, perfectly sums up where his team is. After three pitiful outings, the XV of France spectacularly raised the bar last Sunday by outclassing Wales in Cardiff. Finally. But now looms a still fiery Crunch against England who also set the record straight by claiming the scalp of Ireland, who were arch-favorites for the Grand Slam.

But the Blues have come a long way. The post-World Cup was chaotic. “The balance is a little fragile. We still have scars… We need to focus on ourselves, continues Arlettaz, who has been under fire from criticism since taking office. All the alertness, excitement and concentration lights are on full blast.” Don’t relapse, finish this Six Nations on a good note. For this, Fabien Galthié and his staff have – logically – placed their trust in the troops who shone in Cardiff.

“Change always brings something but there is a need for stability. When we are satisfied with the collective performance, we touch it less, explains the former Perpignan manager. The team will obviously be very similar to what we had against Wales, simply because we were satisfied with everyone’s performance. And added: “It’s always better that it’s in progress, I’m not going to complain about that. The players know where we want to go. Fabien too, me too, everyone is well aware.”

Laurent Labit’s successor also takes a demanding look at the two newcomers who were launched into his line of attack on Sunday: Bordeaux center three-quarter Nicolas Depoortère and Parisian fullback Léo Barré. “It was a first at Millennium and I found them to be up to the task. But I also know that they can do much better. It was a convincing first selection. They took on the challenge with the courage of their youth and their talent. You need both to play young in the French team. At the same time, they know they can – and must – do much better. This will be their second outing, they will have to be better.

This Saturday, at Groupama Stadium, he will play his first Crunch as a coach. Well aware of the challenge that awaits him. “We know that we are going to have a very, very difficult opponent to beat,” he emphasizes. But that doesn’t scare us, it excites us, we know that the standards will have to be much higher than in Wales if we want to compete.” Patrick Arlettaz insists: “We will have to do much better against England. The France team is a great team, we must win. It would also be a way to return to France, to beat a very competitive team.

In an eminently volcanic context. “When you are French and you play rugby, it necessarily represents something. It is a historic rivalry before being a rugby reality, it has become a rugby rivalry, he recalls, well aware of the stakes. We feel that this is something eagerly awaited by all the people who support us and, inevitably, it becomes very important for us. There is a special excitement.” French and English each reignited a little flame last weekend. But only one of the two will confirm the improvement and end on a good note. Patrick Arlettaz smiles: “Rugby is a complex sport, we want to make it simple but it is complex.”