In Marcoussis

With only one high-intensity workout this week, Crunch preparation is primarily based on recovery?

Charles Ollivon: Yes. A week of only six days between two matches is always a bit special. Following our return from Cardiff, late Sunday, we had Monday off. So that only leaves two days of work instead of three. We also know that we are reaching the end of the Tournament and that the organizations are a little tired. It pulls a little more. Time for recovery then. Everyone takes care very seriously because we know that it will also come down to freshness against the English.

Does this mean more analytics?

We spend more time on video analysis, yes. Also on clarity sessions, walking, and meetings. But six days to prepare for this match, honestly, I think it’s enough if we prepare it as well as the one in Wales. But you have to be serious and not waste time with just one high-intensity training session this Wednesday before cutting it short and leaving for Lyon on Thursday.

On the video, did you also look at the less positive points of this victory in Cardiff, like these gifts in defense?

There are more positives than negatives after such a victory. But we haven’t turned a blind eye either. When you’re a player, you know when things are wrong. We know that we need to improve certain sectors, that there have been some small failures, even if, in the commitment, there have been quite a few positives. But we don’t want to stay on that for too long because we know that the opposition will be different next Saturday.

Among the positive points, after three matches disrupted by yellow and red cards, there is discipline with only three penalties conceded against the Welsh…

We saw a stat during the week: we were the team that had played the most numerically inferior since the start of the Tournament: 46% of the time! It was telling. It gave us the sense of work, the focus for our two remaining matches. At this level, we can hardly afford to play so much with 14 players. He is not a player to blame because it is collectively that we must remain very disciplined to hope to win.

Also read: XV of France: “I had a few not very fun weeks,” admits Maxime Lucu

What did the arrival of several new players give you against Wales?

Obviously, they brought us a lot of freshness and desire. But, from my point of view, it was obvious. Afterwards, I don’t really like to separate young people from old people. We are a group that has been working together for several weeks, even several years. When a guy arrives, I think his integration is easy. The codes, the announcements, the knowledge of the guys, the atmosphere, lots of things make it easy to join our group. We all have the same responsibility. I can understand that putting new guys in the starting XV gives the impression of a big wind of change but, in the group, we all have our place.

What did you learn from England’s performance against Ireland?

We are already expecting a big defense. It has been observed that they have modified their defensive system. They are much more aggressive, they line up harder and faster. They put a lot more pressure. And, on the contacts, it’s very strong. To move the Irish one on one as they did on Saturday, you have to be solid… They made a very strong impression in this victory.

Last year, you scored a historic 53-10 victory at Twickenham. Surely this will increase their motivation tenfold?

Obviously they haven’t forgotten Twickenham. But neither do we (smile). This match is very, very important for us too. The Crunch is always a special match. So we know it’s going to be a very solid matchup. This is why we don’t want to stay too long on our Wales match and really switch to attack this match hard.

Among the challenges of this Crunch, it is also about returning to victory at home after two defeats against South Africa and Ireland, then a draw against Italy in Lille…

Of course. Even if we had the impression of playing at home in Cardiff given the French crowd present in large numbers at the Principality Stadium. The whole French crowd was impressive… Getting back to France is one of the motivations for this match. You have to win it for lots of reasons actually. Managing to have a lot of fun again, like against Wales. Winning for our team, our audience. Because it’s simply Crunch.

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

Would a victory in this Crunch definitively resolve the failure of the World Cup?

(He takes a little time to think) It’s difficult to answer yes, there, like that… (He repeats it three times). Yes, winning this Crunch would be really positive. So we’re going to focus first on what we’re going to put there. And, after this match, maybe I will answer you something else… We really want to win this match to end the Tournament on two good notes, on an upward phase. To return home with a smile, and a little pride too because this match really matters for us and for our public… We want to focus on that before starting to weigh whether it ends the World Cup or not. And then, we all have different sensitivities. This is a bit of a complex question…

Comments collected at a press conference