France were Grand Slam winners in 2022 and head into the defence of their Six Nations championship on the back of a 13-game winning run. Here’s all you need to know about the in-form Bleus.
Cyril Baille (Toulouse), Dany Priso (Toulon), Reda Wardi (La Rochelle), Uini Atonio (La Rochelle), Sipili Falatea (Bordeaux), Mohamed Haouas (Montpellier), Gaetan Barlot (Castres), Teddy Baubigny (Toulon), Julien Marchand (Toulouse), Bastien Chalureau (Montpellier), Thibaud Flament (Toulouse), Romain Taofifenua (Lyon), Thomas Lavault (La Rochelle), Paul Willemse (Montpellier), Thomas Jolmes (Bordeaux), Gregory Alldritt (La Rochelle), Alexandre Becognee (Montpellier), Dylan Cretin (Lyon), Francois Cros (Toulouse), Anthony Jelonch (Toulouse), Sekou Macalou (Stade Francais), Charles Ollivon (Toulon), Yacouba Camara (Montpellier), Paul Boudehent (La Rochelle).
Antoine Dupont (Toulouse), Nolann Le Garrec (Racing 92), Leo Coly (Montpellier), Antoine Hastoy (La Rochelle), Matthieu Jalibert (Bordeaux), Romain Ntamack (Toulouse), Julien Delbouis (Stade Francais), Gael Fickou (Racing 92), Emilien Gailleton (Pau), Yoram Moefana (Bordeaux-Bègles), Pierre-Louis Barassi (Toulouse), Romain Buros (Bordeaux), Melvyn Jaminet (Toulouse), Matthis Lebel (Toulouse), Damian Penaud (Clermont), Thomas Ramos (Toulouse), Ethan Dumortier (Lyon), Louis Bielle-Biarrey (Bordeaux).
Fabien Galthie has overseen a French resurgence in international rugby since replacing Jacques Brunel as head coach of the national side at the end of 2019.
Galthie, assisted by a strong backroom staff that includes highly-regarded defence coach Shaun Edwards, has helped bring through a new generation with the aim of Les Bleus peaking when they host the Rugby World Cup later this year.
And the former France scrum-half appears to be on track having ticked several important boxes in the build-up to the World Cup, including a first win in Australia in 15 years, a 15-point demolition of New Zealand and a first Grand Slam title in 12 years.
Whether they win a first World Cup or not this year, the French rugby federation have already signed Galthie to a contract extension through to 2027, such has been the success he’s enjoyed.
15. Melvyn Jaminet
14. Damian Penaud
13. Gael Fickou
12. Julien Delbouis
11. Yoram Moefana
10. Romain Ntamack
9. Antoine Dupont
8. Gregory Alldritt
7. Charles Ollivon
6. Dylan Cretin
5. Paul Willemse
4. Thibaud Flament
3. Uini Atonio
2. Julien Marchand
1. Cyril Baille
France are more than happy to let the opposition have the ball, backing themselves defensively to put their rivals under pressure and force them into errors in key areas of the field.
The defensive gameplan implemented by Galthie and defence coach Edwards has worked very well and there’s unlikely to be much of a deviation from those tactics.
Les Bleus also have a strong set piece, a powerful and deep collection of forwards and a magician playing at scrum-half in Antoine Dupont.
Injuries have deprived Galthie of several key players, most notably lock Cameron Woki and centre Jonathan Danty.
France also look a little short at scrum-half due to injuries and were Dupont to become absent, they may have a major problem.
France’s style of play means teams are able to hang around in games more than they should given the quality the French have in their ranks and although they’ve become masters at winning close matches, there’s always a chance it goes the other way.
For a team that averaged more kicks per game than anyone else last year, France can struggle when the boot is on the other foot, proving to be far from flawless when having to deal with the high ball in their own 22 and contested kicks.
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Last year’s Six Nations Player of the Tournament, Antoine Dupont hasn’t been at his best for club side Toulouse this year, but can usually be relied on to turn it on for Les Bleus.
A scrum-half that can do it all, packing plenty of power and pace for a player of his size, Dupont’s unrivalled skill set makes him one of the best players in the world.
Melvyn Jaminet has a fight on his hands to retain the No.15 shirt for France with Thomas Ramos piling on the pressure in the autumn, but Jaminet’s recent performances for Toulouse may just give him the edge.
Jaminet has been kicking well for Toulouse in the build-up to the Six Nations having finished as France’s top point-scorer in last year’s Grand Slam success, notching 54 points from nine conversions and 12 penalty goals.
The 22-year-old’s kicking from hand is also a major weapon and given his age, the best is probably still to come from a player that’s already come a long way in a short space of time having been playing in D2 in France when first called up to the senior squad in 2021.
Standing out amongst a high-quality collection of back-rowers isn’t easy but it’s often hard to ignore the scrum-hat-wearing Gregory Alldritt when France are playing.
Alldritt has been a pillar of Galthie’s pack since he took charge and the La Rochelle ace has rewarded the coach's faith in him with some great individual displays.
No player had more carries (65) in the Six Nations last year than Alldritt, who also recorded a tournament-high six turnovers and another big showing can be expected from the 25-year-old.
With Danty and Gabin Villiere missing the Six Nations, opportunities have opened up amongst the backs for France with Lyon’s Ethan Dumortier one of those poised to take advantage.
The uncapped 22-year-old is the top tryscorer in the Top 14 this season and his versatility - Dumortier has played at both wing and centre in his career - should prove an attractive quality to Galthie.
Pau centre Emilien Gailleton and Toulouse wing Matthis Lebel are also in the frame to feature for France but Dumortier enters the tournament with a leg up on his team mates.
Up front, loosehead Reda Wardi is poised for a breakthrough Six Nations. Wardi has been a big part of La Rochelle’s recent success, helping them win the Champions Cup last season, and did well for France off the bench in the autumn.
As defending champions and having won their last 13 games, France unsurprisingly feature prominently in the Six Nations betting at 7/4 to win back-to-back titles.
Les Bleus ended a 12-year wait for a Grand Slam in 2022 and they are 7/2 to become the first team in Six Nations history to win successive Slams.
France are hopeful that the Six Nations will kickstart a banner year for French rugby ahead of hosting the World Cup with Les Bleus 13/2 to complete a Six Nations-World Cup double.
They are 10/1 to complete the Grand Slam and lift the Webb Ellis Trophy in 2023.