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What is wrong with French Rugby?

Discussion in '2019 Guinness Six Nations' started by Highland Shaun, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. TRF_heineken

    TRF_heineken RIP #J9

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    Ugh! My original post was just tongue in cheek and now seems like the bandwagon is pulling towards my posts...

    Calm down dammit!
     
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  3. The_Blindside

    The_Blindside Senior Member

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    You're a moderator; you should know better than to troll;).
     
  4. Tayga

    Tayga Member

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    Been following the thread .

    I grew up in France and left in 1997 but I have been following French Rugby very closely - i follow thé Top 14 and read the French national and regional press when it comes to matters rugby.

    So a few observations.

    1. France have not had a decent team for 9/10 years .
    2. They fluked getting out of their WC pool in 2011 but could have won in the final againgst NZ if it had not been for Craig Joubert’s dodgy calls.
    3. Since then « niente » as the Italians would say

    Root cause of all this lies in a complex mixture of factors. My interpretation

    1. Too many foreigners in the Top 14 - and too many in key positions like 9 and 10 crowding out local talent . Toulon started the trend and the others followed thinking that they were emulating success.
    2. As a competition the Top 14 is just dire - there is some explosive rugby but generally t is stop Start affair which puts emphasis on if impact pachydermal collisions rather than seeking a balance between physicality , mobility and tactical ingenuity.
    A lot of games just degenerate into sterile collisions with slow recycling.
    The All Blacks showed us the way how to adapt to the modern game and it has taken us 5 years to understand what they were doing. The French are still clinging to a type of rugby played 15 years ago.
    3. The national coaching has been woeful since PSAint Andre took over - the selection consistency has been laughable under Novès and Brunel - just look at the last game , Brunel put 2 centres on the wing and a wing full back who has not played there for 6 years for France.
    Yes Farrel was clever but if you kick into an empty backspace because the full back is playing like a wing .... is it Huget’s fault or Brunel’s ? There loads of examples like this over many games over the past 6 years
    4. The French are less fit as international players . That is why they lose so many matches in the last 10/15 minutes even though they are ahead at half time ( just look at some recent examples , South Africa, Wales etc..) - I think their conditioning is not as good and the fact that Top 14 ball in play time is relatively low does not help.
    5. France have not had a decent 9/10 combination over the last few years
    Michalak/ Trinc Duc and Lopez have been mediocre international fly halves and they have not found a sexton/Farrel or Russel type player in a long time.

    There are a few other issues but I think the a/m are the main ones that French rugby has failed to come to grips with .

    But the wheel will eventually turn and France will be back. How and when I don’t know but it seems to me that the 2023 World Cup is a better bet than 2019. Magne is right - time to blood the winners of last year’s U20 World Cup with a view to having a settled side in 2023.

    Much as this may displease my Irish friends , It will be New Zealand or England’s year.
     
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  5. The_Blindside

    The_Blindside Senior Member

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    5 months old, but still applies.
     
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  6. FrenchFan

    FrenchFan Senior Member

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    I blame the union. The national team is their responsibility. They also appoint the national coach. And their record is abysmal. Everyone here knows Brunel is a political appointment. Laporte's bitch. Outside of les Musical Chairs their selection policy is non existent. No game plan. No leaders.

    The same Brunel leaders were bystanders in Paris and again at Twickenham https://www.therugbyforum.com/threads/predicted-6n-table-2019.42698/page-3#post-930686

    Time to bring in the new generation. I'd pick from the U20 world champs and more. They have no mental bagage. Bamba Carbonel NTamack Woki Joseph Géraci.
    Demba Bamba was the pick among the forwards at Twickenham in a non-entity group that didn't even look like a team. Louis Carbonel took off from where he left with the U20 again. Same for Jordan Joseph at 8 who is still only 18.

    Out: Guirado Picamoles Parra Lopez Bastareaud Médard - dehors !
    Keep: Poirot Priso Chat Iturria Lambey Camara Vahaamahina Dupont Huget (wing!) Fickou (centre!) Penaud Thomas
    New in: Baille Bourgarit Macalou Tolofua Alldrit Jalibert Ramos Iribaren Vakatawa Grosso Raka Retière Hamdaoui

    in some positions I'd argue we have more depth than many Top 8 nations, oui Monsieur
    Hooker: Marchand, Chat, Bourgarit
    SH: Dupont, Iribaren, Couilloud
    Fly-half: N'Tamack, Jalibert, Carbonel, Belleau
    Centre: Fofana, Fickou, Vakatawa, Penaud
    FB: Ramos, Retière, Hamdaoui

    Julien Marchand, Florian Verhaege and Selevasio Tolofua have been the pick of the forwards at Toulouse (Tolofua was MoM in their win over Leinster). Marchand and Verhaege have showed real leadership qualities. Jalibert is one of the most exciting young attacking 10 I've seen in this country.
    Kylan Hamdaoui has started all 18 games with SF and already notched 7 tries half way thru his first pro season. Highly rated by Heineke Meyer.

    First XV
    _______
    Baille Marchand Bamba
    Lambey Verhaeghe
    Macalou Tolofua Iturria
    Dupont NTamack
    Fickou Vakatawa
    Raka Ramos Thomas

    subs: Priso Chat Slimani Camara Vahaamahina Jalibert Iribaren Penaud
    Il
    The union have no excuses. The new generation is knocking on the door. The union have to put their house in order first before blaming the clubs, the Top 14 or global warming.
     
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    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
  7. Tayga

    Tayga Member

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    Salut French Fan,

    I agree with most of your post. France do have a lot of talent at their disposal but Brunel is not the guy to drive “un renouveau du rugby français “ - he has just selected the same squad for Scotland as for the England game.
    I think the youngsters need to be blooded in incrementally and given their chance - France will lose games but the youngsters will get experience for 2023.
    I can’t write off 2019 but realistically it would be a miracle if the 10th ranked team wins the tournament - but anything is possible with Les bleus -

    Selection wise agree with all but Picamoles and guirardo - picamole is a bit slower than he used to be but nobody in the back row can punch holes like him - he made the third most yardage against England .
    Guirardo is a good player but his form has been affected captaining a losing team - another captain should be appointed.

    I think both Laporte and Brunel have to go and go soon - Brunel’s sélection policy is just all over the place and the esprit collectif and any sense of tactical game plan is just missing .
    Laporte makes me angry when he criticises the players for not being up to it. He should look at himself in the mirror first .
     
  8. Reiser99

    Reiser99 Senior Member

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    I think that Ireland have got their National/Club balance pretty much spot on at the moment. Wales and Scotland are trying to get there and going in the right direction, but struggle with depth compared to Ireland, though this may just be due to less clubs and players. England are struggling to find the balance between club and country so that the success of the u20's etc...comes through clearly. However they have the depth and number of players to compensate for this. France however wanted to become the Premier League of rugby by making it the most exciting league in the world to attract the best talent. The problem is that while the English Premier League is exciting at the expense of the national team, the Top 14 is not exciting at the expense of the national team. On top in football star players can create those individual moments that stand out more easily than in rugby. Yes there are fantastic moments and I will never go back to watching football, but it's rare now that a player can make a complete break and finish entirely on their own. Majority of the time they need to offload, or recycle to complete the break.

    Rugby is still a team game and it seems that France has valued individual talent over teamwork. England did it previously by selecting people out of position rather than players who specialise there and while individually may not be better, are a better player as part of a team. Any example is Itoje at 6 with Robshaw at 7. Yes Itoje's a fantastic players, but the current back row is far better balanced and more effective.

    My only issue with Frenchfan's idea of bringing through the younger u20's players is that they may not be ready for the main squad and have ti endure a few years of losing that could drop their heads. I know you could argue that France will lose with the same players, but it might be better to wait a few years and then introduce them with some more experience and where they can compete and win some games to keep up the motivation. It is hard, because you're basically between a rock and a hard place, with French public expectations like another rock hanging overhead on a frayed rope. As Frenchfan said, maybe the issue is with the Union and unfortunately until that changes it doesn't matter how good the young players are, because they will lose that by the time they should be in the squad...
     
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  9. Tayga

    Tayga Member

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    The risk of blooding young players too early is destroying their self confidence . I remember many years ago England’s Tour of Hell when we got murdered 76-0 by Australia - a young 18 year fresh faced flyhalf started that day ( Johnny Wilkinson) and the rest is history.

    My view is that young players need to brought in incrementally rather than wholesale - if you put them all in straightaway it will be a disaster and set back les bleus even further. It is a matter of timing and only a good coach can judge that ( Joe Schmidt ? )
    The other thing I would say is about the England back row to which you alluded to - I agree - certainly over the first 2 matches we look to have a very nicely balanced back row which looks world class as a unit - I can’t remember a better balance since the Hill/Back/Dallaglio unit.

    I think that they will be able to match the welsh back in Cardiff.
     
  10. barthelemy

    barthelemy Senior Member

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    You are correct on most of your points.

    The french rugby did not enter in the profesionalism era in the best way. Already, when the clubs became profesionals at the end of the 90s, there was a war between the union and the clubs and since then the dialog is very hard, it is a constant fight to have the players training and playing for the french team, the clubs are paying the players and they do not care much about the french team, even more with their arrogant top 14 championship, labelling themselves during long time as "the best championship in the world"

    The french team was still quite good until 2005 or a bit after, still competitive because countries like Irland, wales or scotland took a bit of time to roll out profesionalism but once they did it, the french team did not stop to go down and to lose regurlarly against teams we were always (or often if you prefer, would not like to frustrate anybody :)) winning against before (Scotland, Wales...). Like the french clubs who were winning the european cups quite easily during the first years of 2000. Today it is much less the case and teams/franchise from Wales or Scotland are now largely competitive against french club

    The causes of this failure of the french rugby team are numerous but the TOP14 is the main one (and more largely the inability of the union and the clubs to have a civilized and adult discussion about the French team), it is a very closed and self sufficient championship where money is flowing quite a lot and where a lot of foreign players are coming and where the game is much slower compare to the game played in other championship. It has no pressure to change its way of exisitng and playing as long as the money is coming in. It has no reason to push itself from more profesional training as long as the money is here. It has no real pressure to have homegrown players or to promote french players (and to prepare them for the pace of the international rugby). It has no pressure to have less scrum episod that last forever.

    There are other things obviously, I think the "French Flair" and a certain arrogance did not help the french rugby who was thinking lazy in 2000, that the french flair would always save the country at one point forgetting to train properly at the same time, when other countries were already preparing themselves for the next step of profesionalism

    I'm positive like you for the future generation (our U20 are quite competitive for example) because there have been slow but important changes : Training has changed at young age in France, the attitudes and stamina are so much better today, ,just look at our U20, they have the basics right, French players quotas have increased (Jiffs) so more competition and an obligation for the clubs to bring up to speed french talent, The latest agreement between the clubs and the union have increased the list of "protected" french players (who cannot play aboive a certain number of matches during the year. Guys like Dupont, Ntamack, Penaud, Bamba (and a big group of U20 who will hit the french A team soon like Carbonnel or Joseph) can only do better than the poor lot we have since 10 years.

    But until we have the top14, I fear that there will be a constatn issue with clubs killing players by making them play too muhc matches during the year. Philippe Saint Andre had a very intersting interview about this, he explained that he started with some encouraging young players (Fofana and some other guys) in the few first matches he coached but after 2-3 years these guys were just burned becasue they were playing constantly top14 matches with clubs having no regards for the long term player health or stamina. the result was that the french team was ending up with players being the shadow of what theyr could have been or most of the time with no players at all and having too constantly play diffrent players because most of the main ones were injured or too burned to play for the french team. all of this does nto help any coach for consistency on hte long term. British and irish teams have much less this issue and plays wiht the same pool of players since several years, which is helping a lot their performance.

    The worst hypocrite of the lot is the guy like Noves, who, when he was at toulouse was always spitting at the french team taking his players constantly and accepting the job of coaching the same team he was spitting on constantly. and then he did **** all.

    Sure, Brunel is no good, I do not think any minute he is the right coach for the french team but since Lievremont, it is going from worse to worse, whatever the coach in charge. We need proper players, trained professionaly, being able to play 80 minutes withe same stamina, fully focused and with the good attitudes in tackling, in offloading. This is the base and then we can talk about coaching. I'm of the one who thinks we need a foreign coach to kick our asses a bit :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
  11. Bruce_ma_goose

    Bruce_ma_goose Senior Member

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    Brunel's main failing is his age. In his first years with Italy he was light years ahead of Lievremont and PSA. In his last year with Italy the wheels came off, and it seems he has not found his previous ability again. Still, they have played three decent halves out of six in this years 6N - the issue is that the other three halves were absolutely atrocious!
     
  12. barthelemy

    barthelemy Senior Member

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    Brunel, Noves and others are part of an old french rugby world that is outdated I do believe. And if they have a sorry lot of players who are not able to perform a full match, it is a deadly combination that explains the slow agony of the french national team. I believe that the french rugby is learning hopefully from its mistake and better days are in front of us.

    Most of the "old" players playing for the national team have more defeat than victory in their international carreer, it does not help the general mentality, this is telling a lot. Hence why I think that after the world cup, we need to restart really fresh, targetting the 2023 world cup to come up with something more consitent, with younger players. But several of you are right, you need also to be incremental and have a mix of experienced and youth, we need to do it smartly. teh 2019 will certainly be a good experience for some of the young guns slowly integrated.
     
  13. Tayga

    Tayga Member

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    I would agree with you on the condition that the coach speaks French - the guy can even be English providing he speaks French and lives France.
    I think Joe Schmidt would be an excellent choice for France. I would not take Woodward for sure but Galthie is a serious option - problem is I can’t see too many French coaches doing the job
    Re England , we obviously need Gatland !!
     
  14. FrenchFan

    FrenchFan Senior Member

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    The union have the players but they can’t gain traction collectively because they’re missing the other vital ingredients needed to stay in the Top 8.

    A competent test coach.
    A selection policy.
    A game plan.
    Leaders.

    The FFR are not going back into the Top 8 long term until they tick all boxes. Its not rocket science.
     
  15. Tayga

    Tayga Member

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    1. A competent test coach

    Agreed but he must speak French

    2. Selection policy

    What is needed is consistency rather than constant changes from game to game , barring injuries.
    I always thought it mad to keep changing halfbacks all the time .

    3. A game plan

    The coach /union needs to look at how the modern game has changed - the pachydermal TOP 14 sterile collision model is not the future !! Fast , smart rugby based on exploiting turnovers and immediate counter attacking is what made the All blacks the Number 1 team for the last 8/10 years .

    4. Leaders

    A new JP Rives please and a core of other senior players.
    That is why I think it would be counterproductive to just throw in the Under 20s in one fell swoop. Guirardo and Picamoles are needed until the youngsters are ready .

    There is a last point which I would add

    5. Physical conditioning

    France often loses games in the last 10/15 minutes and I think this is in part due to inferior fitness - I think this needs to be looked as well within a package of broader measures .

    Laporte should go and a new guy come in with a fresh strategic perspective with definite milestones and objectives.

    I would take Joe Schmidt as coach - he speaks French and will improve/professionalise the national coaching set up. And I would pair him with Fabien Galthie and groom him as successor.

    None of the Top 14 French coaches seem ready to step up.
     
  16. FrenchFan

    FrenchFan Senior Member

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    They have bigger fish to fry.

    There are many excellent head coaches (Azema, Mola, Sonnes, Labit, Travers). There is a slew of excellent technicians (Galthie), specialist coaches (Dal Maso) and upcoming coaching talent (Garbajosa) in Top 14. I’m not going to list them all. Look at the org chart of the bigger clubs. Toulouse, Stade Francais etc. have 20 people in their staff with a good mix of locals and foreigners. The talent pool is there.
    The union hasn’t tapped into that pool because they’re not very attractive. Look at Brunels’ assistants Ellissalde was out of work after being sacked from Toulouse, Bonnaire is a federal coach without previous coaching experience in pro rugby, Seb Bruno is on loan from his club Lyon. Hardly the stuff of legend. As a coaching unit they wouldn’t get hired in Top 14.
    Why is a highly rated scrum specialist like Marc Dal Maso working for Eddie Jones when he could be working for the FFR?
    It’s hard to see the incentive to coach a side ranked 10th vs prospects of le Bouclier and European titles. These guys want to win silverware and they have a better chance to do that with their club.
    Noves sacking and the court proceedings are hardly a big incentive. Not to mention the FFR-LNR politics.

    On attrape pas des mouches avec du vinaigre...
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
  17. barthelemy

    barthelemy Senior Member

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    I still think that PSA, Noves or even Brunel are not that incompetent (see following answers)

    If you have only injured or burnt players, you cannot be consistent in your selection as your players are not avaialble all the time to you, hardly the fault of the union or the coach but fully the fault of the top14 and clubs who do not want to protect more the French national players.

    As it looks like you are able to read french (?), I give you the link of PSA interview after his France coaching period :

    http://boucherie-ovalie.org/2016/10/11/philippe-saint-andre-passe-sur-le-grill/

    It says a lot on the issue of the french team.


    Again, I do believe that our coach are not that crap, I mean they are watching modern rugby and even if they are a bit outdated for some and not the best for some others, I'm sure they are also trying to adapt. But how do you want to play modern rugby with players who have 10 year old attitudes, technical ability and fitness due to the training they have received when younger or in a champonship that is not in adequation with modern rugby ?

    Just a point on this : I defo beleive it is changing with the younger generation, I'm hopeful, they are much more prepared to modern rugby I believe and they have much less gap with other youngster from other countries.

    Again relating to players form which I will agree with, the last 10 years failure for the french rugby have been an issue of players mainly, not really coaching, coaching plays on the margin in case of France, a coach unable to have same fit players for several years in a row will always have difficulties to apply any game plan and have any consistence in his results.

    I do not know about Joe Schmidt he is certainly doing a great job with Ireland . I think we should have maybe try Vern Cotter when he left Clermont. Woodward could be an option as well but not sure about his rugby perspective with teh modern rugby. But again, with all what I just said, I do beleive that all these guys would have had the same player form issues that the last 3-4 french coach, they would not have done miracles with a sorry lot.

    Waht I'm sure about is that the success of Ireland, or Wales, or scotland or NZ are mainly due to a system (rather than a coach) that is organized in a pyramidal way, feeding ultimately the national team. Players of these countries are also playing in championships where much less matches are played along the year and where players have contracts with the union rather than their clubs (or part contract with the union). and when Laport talks about having contract wiht players for the french team, TOP14 is atumoatically rejecting the idea....
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
  18. Tayga

    Tayga Member

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    I think that there is upside to taking on the French coaching job - the potential, the player pool is certainly there - yes the relation with the clubs needs to looked at but a strong coach will look at France as a fantastic opportunity not to be missed.
    Eddie Jones took that view with England .....
    But I agree that the current coaching team is a disaster and Brunel ( a decent honourable man) is not up to it.

    I thought getting rid of Novès was a mistake but he needed more time than Laporte was prepared to concede. Novès would in time have improved things .
     
  19. Tayga

    Tayga Member

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    Salut,

    I read the PSA article - a decent guy who was very popular , liked and respected when coaching in England .

    And scorer of the greatest ever try at Twickenham and possibly ever !! Even hard core English fans have forgiven him for that try !!

    Ireland and Wales and NZ centrally contract their players through the Union and I believe that this system has avoided player burnouts that France and England experience because of the demands of the clubs who own the players. I don’t know the top 14 stats but the English international players last year figures in 35 games ( premiership / Anglo - welsh / ERC / internationals plus Lions)

    Thé english players came back from the NZ Lions tour physically drained and came fifth in the 6N. Same for French players who have to slug it out in the top 14 week in week out.

    Solution - the RFU is trying to negotiate a maximum game schedule with the clubs - but ultimately it is a dispute about money !! But there is a difference between England and France in the sense that the RFU is flush with cash and can toss s few bones to the clubs.

    Thé FFR is loss making and the rapport de force is not the same - but ultimately both countries will need to go down a similar path snd wmulate the NZ/Irish central contracting model.

    But rather than vinegar some money honey will be needed !!
     
  20. barthelemy

    barthelemy Senior Member

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    You have it, the differences between the RFU and the FFR are :

    1) A championship with 12 teams instead of 14 - it is 1 month without championship for the players. Also a relegation system much less pressurising with only 1 team in England being relegated each season.

    2) A stadium, twickenahm own by the RFU - something like 60 millions pounds more per year on the budget - here you are for your bones to the clubs i.e the union can at least give some substantial money to the clubs

    3) Not the same history of fighting and a more english-pragmatic approach

    And still, with all this, you said it, English players are complaining about the pressure they have on them to perform all along the year. Their comme ci comme ca results on last 6th nations (and the defeat vs wales this year) shows that they are also reaching their limit sometimes.

    In France, we are over the limit, we cannot even present the same team for more than 6 months in a row (1 week some would say).

    The numbers of matches on a year is not especially the issue here, French players are doing regularly 35 to 40 matches a year. The issue is to do that number of matches over 3-4 years every year, it is killing the body. It is really interesting to compare the number of matches over a period of 5 years per players and nations, it is really telling on the root cause of the issue.

    I cannot comprehend that we can blame the union in France, they cannot do anything (I'm exagerating obviously, they are not the best, they can do certainly some mroe things about the amateur level but when it comes to the French profesionnal players, it is very difficult)..or if they do (the union wanted to build its own stadium at one point to make it like twickenham but we have heard laugh from everybody in france about that idea)..or the player contracts idea that could bring some more sponsors maybe..no again...

    The clubs can do something, can help, can really follow through their engagement ot protect the players..but they are doing it on hte backfoot, they do not really care at the end of the day as long as the money flows in. Teh only way I see is for people to stop to watch the top14, stop to go to the stadium, that the revenues go down for the TOP14 to wake up. The french team is a window of this sport in France and I cannot understand that the clubs are not seeing what they are inflicting to themselves on the long run. I beleive that the number of players is reducing in france overall, less and less licensed people, not really surprising.

    Again, there is a bit of hope with some slow progress about players convention where every 2-3 years, the union can extract some samll things from the clubs, but god , it is horribly slow ..and it is so much wasted time. This is really sad for a french supporter, we all know what are the solutions (apart some few deluded people who still think that the union is the only to be blamed)
     
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    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019
  21. Bruce_ma_goose

    Bruce_ma_goose Senior Member

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    It is not often I'll leap to the defence of a union, most are filled by people who are their due to social and sporting connections rather than merit. However, most of the above rings true to me. There have been many changes in the pieces in the French union in terms of coaches and those above them, but the level of failure is consistent. It may point to external factors (like clubs).

    While I like the notion that national team success and club success are interlinked, I'm not sure that is true - at least not in the short term of years (maybe it is different in terms of decades). Fluctuations in Scottish and Welsh national sides have little impact on Pro14 attendances. I suppose the counter argument could be made in SA and Oz.
     
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