Rugby World Cup 2023 – French XV – William Servat: “We cannot maintain the same level of tension throughout an entire competition”

Dispatched in front of the microphones to discuss the return of the executives against Namibia, the mastermind of the French scrum spoke of the difficulties experienced by the XV of France against Uruguay, while insisting on the need to quickly gain strength.

How did you digest this “failed” match against Uruguay?

First of all, I want to say here all my respect for this Uruguay team. Then, we must admit that we have, whether we like it or not, old remains of French players. We have talented players, capable of winning a World Cup opening match against New Zealand, and who prepared Uruguay in a slightly different way. It’s like in boxing: sometimes, we come across courageous, valiant opponents, who can fight back even if we are stronger, but less concentrated… And that’s what happened against Uruguay. Of course we didn’t put our game together, but that’s almost a good thing. We are Latin, but we know the quality of our players. We know where we are, and we have in mind that two victories in the next matches will allow us to build our World Cup as we wish.

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We thought this team would not experience the same ups and downs as its predecessors…

I remember an opening World Cup match that didn’t go so well… There may have been a certain satisfaction at having negotiated that match well, it’s just human. Uruguay put our ideas in order in terms of combat, which is the basis for doing great things. Rugby remains a collective combat sport, and when we come with this philosophy, we can do magnificent things. We saw it again with Uruguay. But today, we want to move on.

Do the difficulties of your defense worry you?

The preparations are refined until the last moment. We placed emphasis on sectors other than defense, the teams also analyzed us well. Furthermore, I believe that New Zealand is not too bad in attack… This team has found keys but there is no danger in the matter. We have had certainty about our work for four years.

Beyond defense, the content is quite poor, with difficulty in stringing together playing times…

We want to create more games. Not so long ago, after the November 2022 tests, you found us too restrictive. Today, we are judged by other sectors. We tried to develop our game so that when the big matches approach, we are ready. Namibia will be a transitional stage of construction for us. We must ensure that we are as well prepared as possible to face Italy and negotiate the following matches well.

To what extent did the match against Uruguay weigh on your composition for Namibia, with the massive return of managers in perspective?

We discuss the compositions daily to try to be judicious and fair in our choices. We never talk about the composition of a match before playing the next, perhaps out of superstition. But for this one, the choices were quickly made. We have a common desire to gain strength.

You mentioned the “Latin” side of the Blues in the preamble. Should we be worried?

When we have played, we always tend to only remember the great memories. I sometimes say it while smiling at the players: I am one of those who lost against Italy with the France team, at a time when this team was far from its current level. Quite simply because we had meetings before the match and we had not prepared in the best possible way at the time. Concerning Uruguay, I think that we had prepared this match in the right way, but that it is normal and human for the players to relax. When you’ve spent weeks, months or even years preparing for a match, it’s difficult to move on to the next one. I don’t think we can maintain the same level of tension throughout a competition if we want them to surpass themselves at any given moment.

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