Rugby World Cup 2023: how the Blues staff compose their teams and Galthié is inspired by Darwin

The team composition of the Blues against Namibia was at the center of questions this week. But how does the staff build their group each week?

Holders, substitutes – sorry, “finishers” -, “premiums”, “hairdressers”… The team composition of the French XV has its own lexical field. Depending on the importance of a match, some words are used more than others. Those against Uruguay (27-12) last week are different from those against Namibia this Thursday, since the “finishers” will give way to the usual holders. The word “premium” having been deleted by its creator Fabien Galthié during the summer matches.

The choice to re-align this typical team is a challenge. Faced with the weakest team in the group, we could legitimately think that the staff would still carry out a large squad review. Like against Uruguay. The two weeks of rest between Namibia and Italy finally convinced the staff to bring in the best. The poor face displayed against Uruguay? No influence. In any case, according to their statements. “I saw that there was a potential change of direction after Uruguay. There is none. There is also no long-term forecast [sur les compositions]”, assures Galthié.

But then, how is the team composition established? Who decides ? What are the criteria that come into play?

Adaptability, the secret

First, there is the “first circle”. Six coaches propose a team every day from the day after a match: Fabien Galthié, Raphaël Ibanez, Karim Ghezal, Laurent Labit, William Servat and Shaun Edwards. And if common ground is not found among the six, “it’s Fabien who decides,” confided Ghezal last June.

The team building mechanics are precise. “We have a vision based on the situation, playing time, performances and emulation in the group. Some players come to get the jersey in the locker room,” says the French coach. Example: Louis Bielle-Biarrey, starting this Thursday in place of a disappointing Gabin Villière.

At the end of the second day, the players know if they are starting or on hold due to injury

“In a typical week where we have seven days of preparation. At the end of the second day, the players know if they are starting or on standby due to an injury. And it is on the third day that we reveal the team to them “, adds Fabien Galthié.

It is in this context that a group of 23 players is chosen. “There is no reaction or change of course, our method is based on adaptability. It’s a bit like Darwin’s theory, it’s not the strong and intelligent species that resist, but those that “adapt”, concludes the former MHR coach. And a zest of philosophy to crown the progress of a Blues team.

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