Where indeed? Saturday November 28, 2009. Stade Veledrome, Marseille. New Zealand 39, France 12, 5 tries to zip.
France as a rugby nation fell into a silence reserved for defeats unexpected but thorough. On that day New Zealand played the style of running, aggressive rugby we know they can play but not of recent.
France had just come from a sound and solid defeat of Tri Nations champions South Africa and a 43-5 slogging of a weak Samoan side. A week later the All Blacks arrived in Marseille and proceeded to dismember the French- fait! And now where do we go?
France also fell short of expectations during last years 6 Nations Rugby championship. France's problems have always been inconsistency. When a team is playing the best rugby we say they are aggressive and strong as the All Blacks up front but skilled and silk like the French in the backs. France can be both one day and neither the next. This is not a good lead up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
French coach Marc Lièvremont has got to get it right and quickly. Image thanks to www.ffr.fr
Selection policy is a puzzle. There has been so much experimenting and personal changes that when the pressure really comes on, i.e. like November 28, the team falls apart due to a lack of cohesion and understanding. It's time for the coach to pick his best side and stick with them. Coach Marc Lièvremont has to pick a winning side and it has to be against Scotland.
PREDICTION: Things have got to get better! A win over Ireland in Paris should see the title go to France. Or will it? Perhaps runner up.
Mathieu Bastareaud (Stade Français)
Julien Bonnaire (Clermont Auvergne)
Benjamin Boyet (Bourgoin)
Sébastien Chabal (Racing Metro)
Vincent Clerc (Stade Toulousain)
Thomas Domingo (Clermont Auvergne)
Luc Ducalcon (Castres)
Thierry Dussautoir (Stade Toulousain)
Jean-Baptiste Elissalde (Stade Toulousain)
Fabrice Estebanez (Brive)
Benjamin Fall (Bayonne)
Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz)
Yannick Jauzion (Stade Toulousain)
Alexandre Lapandry (Clermont Auvergne)
Julien Malzieu (Clermont Auvergne)
Sylvain Marconnet (Stade Français)
David Marty (Perpignan)
Nicolas Mas (Perpignan)
Romain Millo-Chulski (Stade Toulousain)
Lionel Nallet (Racing Metro)
Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier)
Alexis Palisson (Brive)
Pascal Papé (Stade Français)
Morgan Parra (Clermont Auvergne)
Louis Picamoles (Stade Toulousain)
Clement Poitrenaud (Stade Toulousain)
Aurelien Rougerie (Clermont Auvergne)
William Servat (Stade Toulousain)
François Trinh-Duc (Montpellier)
Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Français)
Head Coach: Marc Lièvremont
Out, all from the backline, Damien Traille, Cedric Heymans, Maxime Médard, Yann David and Jean Dupuy.
In: At age 32, veteran Jean-Baptiste Elissalde get a recall. I suspect his goal kicking is sorely needed; Mathieu Bastareaud, back after disgracing himself in New Zealand last year and having completed his community service; Benjamin Boyet, a new flyhalf, a position France is yet to find a comfortable fit for although he will be unlikely to start against Scotland; Fabrice Estebanez, a utility back; Aurelien Rougerie, who hasn’t played a test for nearly a year, and Julien Malzieu, both from Clermont Auvergne; Luc Ducalcon, a prop and another recall, Clement Poitrenaud at fullback.