After the emotional whirlwind that was Les Bleus’ participation in the Rugby World Cup 2023, it is challenging to pinpoint one. At Stade de France and others, France had pure communion with its supporters as it defeated New Zealand in the tournament’s opening game. But a little more than five weeks later, at the same location, the heartbreaking final versus South Africa plunged the entire nation into a frenzy of grief. The ups and downs of the host nation’s RWC are well captured in those two starkly different photographs, which while not telling the entire narrative, do so.
Try of the tournament
On the first night of play, Melvyn Jaminet’s try against New Zealand helped France win the match. The Toulouse full-back put the finishing touches on his team’s statement victory over the All Blacks two minutes before the final siren by acrobatically collecting an overhead kick from Maxime Lucu.
The perfect quotation
“We’re calm because Antoine’s back.” Hooker Peato Mauvaka made this succinct observation two days prior to the match against South Africa, but it conveyed a great deal about the value that the French team placed on “Superdupont” and the expectations that were raised by his return to the field following a three-week recovery from the fractured cheekbone he sustained against Namibia.
Man of the Moment
Only Antoine Dupont, right? The legendary captain of Les Bleus only participated in two and a half games during this World Cup, but after suffering an injury during their third group encounter, he became a constant topic of discussion. A entire nation eagerly awaited news of Dupont’s health updates before his successful surgery, during his recovery, and up until it was confirmed that he would play in the quarterfinal match against the Springboks. He did, after all, play against South Africa, and he was outstanding the entire time. But it wasn’t sufficient.
One for the future
Louis Bielle-Biarrey, or simply LBB. The 20-year-old winger, who earned his maiden cap back in August, has had a quick start to his career in test matches. He was a last-minute selection for France’s 33-man RWC team toward the end of the month. Everything indicated that he would at most play a supporting role. Although he was not one of the matchday 23 that faced New Zealand, he grabbed Gabin Villière’s place on the left wing against Uruguay in their second pool match, and he hasn’t looked back since. Ten clean breaks (the second-best total of the tournament) throughout four games and four tries. LBB scarcely appeared to have perspired when he announced his presence.
“It doesn’t feel like I’m playing in a World Cup,” he said after the win against Italy. The whizzkid certainly looked like he belonged though.
From the Touchline
Fabien Galthié and Jacques Nienaber were seen hugging and talking on the field during the warm-up between France and South Africa at the Stade de France. Between two coaches who are acquainted and supportive of one another, smiles were in order. Back when Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus were in charge of the Irish province, Galthié spent two weeks with Munster Rugby. When questioned about Galthié’s brief stint with Munster prior to the quarterfinal, Nienaber recalls having beers, playing football, and most notably having fascinating chats about rugby with the head coach of Les Bleus.
score of 74. By a wide margin, Thomas Ramos has scored the most points so far for RWC 2023. He has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a very talented goalie. Ramos has never missed more than two kicks in a single game in the entire 2023. In the quarterfinals, he scored five goals on seven tries against South Africa. Unfortunately, a supersonic Cheslin Kolbe foiled his most memorable conversion effort, much to his chagrin and that of France.
Les Bleus were devastated by the humiliating loss they had just suffered against South Africa after the game against them ended. France was a serious Webb Ellis Cup contender, much like Ireland, so their elimination was quite disappointing. While Uini Atonio and Romain Taofifénua, both 33, had previously declared their retirement from test rugby, coach Fabien Galthié, whose contract extends through 2028, will stay in place to aid in the development of his team and give them the experience they need to better handle important competitions. France would surely be among the favorites for the RWC 2027 in Australia in four years given their energetic performance in this competition.