The XV of France beat Japan (20-15) in pain, Saturday July 9, in Tokyo, and ends the season undefeated. Thanks to tries from Matthis Lebel (9th) and Baptiste Couilloud (71st), the Blues won a fifth victory in six games against the Japanese team and, above all, a tenth victory in a row, setting a record in the era. modern. This is the best French record since a series of ten successes, including eight against Germany, established between 1931 and 1937.
Fabien Galthié’s men have not lost since a setback in Australia (33-30) on July 17, 2021. Almost a year later, Argentina (29-20), Georgia (41-15), New Zealand (40-25), Italy (37-10), Ireland (30-24), Scotland (36-17), Wales (13-9), England ( 25-13) and Japan (42-23) in turn came up against the XV of France.
More anecdotal: the Blues win their first summer series since 2006 and a trip to modest Romania (62-14), then to South Africa (36-26).
victory on the wire
A little over a year from the 2023 World Cup, which will take place in France, and a few months after their grand slam, it is reassuring for Fabien Galthié and his staff. Especially since the Blues, on tour at the end of the world, had come to Japan without their usual executives – Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack, Grégory Alldritt, Gaël Fickou -, left to rest.
But, like a week ago at Toyota, the XV of France was heckled, even asphyxiated, by the Brave Blossoms. The Japanese took advantage of the tricolor inaccuracies to take the lead, carried by the back Ryohei Yamanaka, author of two tries (12th, 40th).
Nothing seemed to go the French way: scrum-half Maxime Lucu foiled, second row Thomas Jolmès didn’t roar, young full-back Max Spring defended badly at times… Even the French line-up, so overbearing a week ago, seemed below his level. Fortunately, these Blues from the end of the world have also proven that they have resources, like a conquering Thibaud Flament, an omnipresent Damian Penaud, a clever Baptiste Couilloud. They also benefited from a bit of luck when third row Tevita Tatafu was denied a try five minutes from time by video.
“It was rough, very hard: the Japanese gave us a lot of problems. We suffered, they took us to a very high level of requirement. We will have to learn from that, ”admitted the captain, Charles Ollivon, at the end of the meeting. Uninspired, undisciplined and clumsy, Ollivon’s teammates spoke about their experience in the second half to snatch a victory without relief.
But knowing how to “win ugly” is also the prerogative of champions. This time, the Blues will be satisfied with it.