Play La Marseillaise; Play It!

Freddie’s back at No10 and Les Bleus have scored 94 points in three games in front of clamourous home crowds, hammering the Wallabies 33-6 before gutting the Pumas 39-19, then breaking down a super-physical Samoan challenge to ride out 22-14 winners and end their series undefeated. Something is very, very right with French rugby at the moment. That isn’t a good advent for Ireland, but it does wonders for the rugby world as a whole. Continue reading

Philippe Saint André Has The Toughest Job In Rugby

The three amigos of the new French coaching set-up. Their players haven't given them what they've been looking for, but what are they giving the players?

The Mole was more than a little surprised when Philippe Saint André was announced as France’s next coach before RWC11. Despite the fact that France came as near as you can feasibly come to winning the trophy as you can get without actually winning it, the Lievremont era had degenerated into farce, and it was clear that the next coach had to be less volatile, more media savvy and more experienced. Continue reading

The Art of Substitution

Being the head of a national rugby team is less about coaching and more about management than any other level of the game. In that role, the Mole considers that substitution is a key consideration and that Declan Kidney and Phillippe Saint-Andre both scored high on this weekend. However, Warren Gatland seems to do so every week. Continue reading

Scotland v France Match Preview

Gauloise in Hand, Sun on Back

The Six Nations creates its own reality. Teams that routinely finish with a high winning percentage but do not win Grand Slams aren’t “great” – think turn of the century England and noughties Ireland – while average teams that win a Grand Slam – think Mike Ruddock’s Wales – have greatness thrust upon them. These examples should be qualified. Both the England and Ireland sides in question finally got over the line and won a Grand Slam, earning greatness. Wales won a total of 4 games from 20 in the two seasons both before and after their 2005 Grand Slam. Continue reading

Great Coach … Or Just A Good Set Of Initials?

French rugby looks to be in a good place. Runners-up in a World Cup Final they could have won, playing in spite of a coach who had led them on the most bizarre journey over the previous three years; now coached by an experienced and well-liked former international who has been around the houses and never talks bombastically. France sit comfortably as favourites for the 6N championship. Continue reading