England v France: Can new generation revive flat-lining France rugby?

France’s below-20s aspect beat Unique Zealand in the semi-finals earlier than toppling England to steal the trophy
Six Nations: England v France
Venue: Twickenham Date: Sunday, 10 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Dwell commentary on BBC Radio 5 are living sports extra and online; textual convey updates and highlights on the BBC Sport net location and app; TV highlights on BBC Two at 18:00 GMT.

Amid the tickertape, avenue parades and dabbing presidents of the soccer group’s World Cup buy final summer season, one other 2nd of candy French carrying success became a microscopic misplaced.

It came a month earlier than in front of 18,000 Tricolore-waving supporters in Beziers.

Louis Carbonel, the new-confronted France flit-half, became lining up a conversion.

It seems that mounted in concentration on the reduction of the ball and the duty in hand, he feinted to originate up his plug-up.

The opposition, fooled by his stammer, prematurely started their designate from below the posts.

As they realised the deception, Carbonel grinned broadly, pointed a finger at them and pulled a face of mock surprise. He then duly caught his kick square between the uprights.

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It became the ideal twist of the knife in France’s 33-25 victory over celebrated enemy England in the ideal of the World Beneath-20 Championships.

While the senior group is in freefall, winning factual three of their final 12 matches, it seems the youth are better than all compatible.

Closing summer season became the foremost time France had reached the ideal, never thoughts lifted the trophy, in the match’s 11-twelve months historical previous.

Centre Romain Ntamack and prop Demba Bamba, 19 and 20 respectively, dangle already graduated to the senior aspect. Ntamack started final weekend’s defeat by Wales. Bamba is in the XV to salvage on England this Sunday.

Jordan Joseph and Cameron Woki – onerous-carrying reduction-row products of Parisian aspect RC Massy – and the prankish Carbonel can also no longer be some distance in the reduction of.

Worship France’s soccer world champions, the victorious below-20s aspect drew on the nation’s multi-cultural heritage.

Could well per chance also they, esteem their soccer counterparts, be a skills to pull France reduction to the tip of the world recreation?

Broken-down France flit-half Thomas Castaignede received the foremost of his 54 Take a look at caps as a 20-twelve months-celebrated.

“It’s terribly thrilling,” he told BBC Sport.

“Each person is mad because we’d like to rebuild, French rugby is in the worst situation for the time being and these younger gamers can train a fresh philosophy to the recreation.

“Some gamers are coming from varied social stages and that’s right for us, because these guys know onerous work.

“They know what it is miles to achieve from a low present salvage each step to attach the ideal stage. We are in a position to even be ecstatic with that.”

Freddie Michalak and Clement Poitrenaud, either aspect of Itay’s Mirco Bergamasco, had been section of 1 other sever of promising France gamers

But we now had been here earlier than.

“I reduction in thoughts in November 2001, I went down to Toulouse, to interview Freddie Michalak, Clement Poitrenaud and Nicolas Jeanjean,” says Gavin Mortimer, who played semi-professionally in France earlier than swapping the dressing room for the click box.

“They had been all either 19 or 20 and had factual played for France in that autumn’s Tests, but genuinely none of them kicked on. Michalak, to me, sums up French rugby over the previous 20 years,

“He had the total skills, but did now not dangle the utility or the temperament. It became faintly embarrassing when he went to Toulon, alongside Jonny Wilkinson, in 2012.

“The 2 are roughly the identical age and had been when in contrast in the previous, but must you checked out what they’d completed it became chalk and cheese.

“That has been the anecdote of French rugby in the authentic skills.”

It’s tough to content the legend.

The World Beneath-20 Championships replaced a identical below-21 event.

A France group containing Lionel Beauxis, Maxime Medard, Damien Chouly and Maxime Mermoz lifted that crown in 2006, but did now not contain the identical influence at senior stage.

In 2012, an 18-twelve months-celebrated Gael Fickou marked his Heineken Cup debut with a wonderfully impudent wrestle Leicester. He became hailed as a future global celebrity. He can also but be, but to this point that plight has eluded him.

Yacouba Camara made his world debut as a unheard of-hyped 21-twelve months-celebrated in February 2016, but Sunday shall be fully his 11th Take a look at originate up.

One more flanker, Sekou Macalou, tore apart the All Blacks defence in a midweek 2nd-string pleasant in 2017, but disappeared from world seek quickly after.

France has given youth its head. Of the 12 youngsters to dangle looked in the Six Nations, half had been French. They’ve been much less desirous to give it time and provides a enhance to even supposing.

“The leaders haven’t genuinely been there. It’s a mountainous step for the younger gamers they customarily are gradually a microscopic misplaced,” said Castaignede.

Castaignede, former 20, dropped the match-winning aim in opposition to England in Paris in 1996

“When things are going dumb or no longer it is valuable to flip and contemplate at one of many oldest gamers and discover what we are going to plot now.”

If France are instant on management on the pitch, on the touchline there has been a carousel of mediocrity. Jacques Brunel is the fourth national group coach in decrease than eight years.

“There is a particular conservatism in French rugby; they are the fully Six Nations group never to appoint a foreigner as a head coach and it presentations. They’ve appointed this succession of celebrated males frankly,” adds Mortimer.

“France did effectively in the newbie skills because it became newbie. Serge Blanco can also get away with smoking 40 a day, but rugby is now fought in the gym and in the gamers’ diets and the French dangle no longer been in a situation to adapt.

“When Brunel became appointed, they’d the likelihood to circulate for a foreigner – there became talk of Cut Mallett – and bag someone who just isn’t any longer going to get slowed down in the excellent politics of French rugby, but it undoubtedly did now not occur.”

France’s miserable Six Nations plug at Twickenham
On the assorted hand France received 22-16 in Paris final season
4 February 2017Misplaced 19-16
21 March 2015Misplaced 55-35
23 February 2013Misplaced 23-13
26 February 2011Misplaced 17-9
15 March 2009Misplaced 34-10
11 March 2007Misplaced 26-18
13 February 2005Gained 18-17

The insular outlook and financial muscle of top French aspects has no longer helped the priority.

High 14 teams, lavishly bankrolled, dangle lengthy prioritised domestic rivalries above European, never thoughts world, honours.

Young French gamers are in overall mountainous fish in limited ponds with stout wallets. The motivation to converse themselves on the world scene can also no longer be as obvious as for his or her counterparts in varied places.

There is hope, even supposing, that the coming skills can be varied. Now not on legend of any innately superior skills, but on legend of extra commended conditions.

There for the time being are quotas, punishable by system deductions, for dwelling-grown gamers in top-flight squads and the prospect of a condominium World Cup in 2023 is focusing minds on opening up the pathway from age-grade aspects to the national group.

Rory Teague, the Englishman who coached Bordeaux till November, is sceptical whether or no longer intentions shall be backed up by action.

“There is this kind of reluctance to adapt. Accepting that substitute is serious freaks them out,” he told the Events this week.

But the talk is gathering stagger.

In the wake of the outlet weekend crumple in opposition to Wales, France’s legendary inclined flanker Olivier Magne told Midi Olympique that Brunel must contain condominium for younger gamers.

“We dangle a skills that has basked fully in defeat, we just isn’t any longer going to buy something with it,” he said.

Mignoni took Lyon to the High 14 play-offs for the foremost time final season

“What’s the anguish? We lose games anyway, we is maybe no longer worse. Let gamers learn and accomplish experience.”

Pierre Mignoni, a 41-twelve months-celebrated inclined France scrum-half who played alongside Magne and now coaches Lyon, seems space to salvage designate after Japan 2019.

“He is among the few French coaches who understands that France want to contemplate outdoor for ideas and philosophies and turn out to be unheard of extra Anglo-Saxon in their design,” said Mortimer.

“I deem he can be in a situation to contain them mentally as effectively as design about what being a world is all about.

“There is hope for the lengthy plug, but it undoubtedly is in point of fact a twelve months or so earlier than French rugby followers dangle something to yowl about.”

Patiently handled and given the suitable prerequisites, the 2018 sever can be reasonably the classic. But the French dangle viewed identical doable fracture masses of events earlier than.

Additional reporting by BBC Sport’s Tom Reynolds

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