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Laurent Labit, coach of the attack of the fifteen of France: “We are on another level now”

“You won your first three matches in the Tournament two years ago before losing to Scotland. What did you learn from that time about managing the end of the Tournament?
Our team has grown since then, winning very important matches, especially away from home, in difficult circumstances. We also beat Ireland and New Zealand recently at home. We were in the same place two years ago in terms of results but I think we are on another level now. We have the defending champion in front of us on Friday evening and we are going there as challengers. We respect them a lot.

The success two years ago in Cardiff had been founding. What memories do you have of it?
He had given a boost to the construction of our project. We got off to a good start against the English and the Italians at home and this match was founding in addition to being a revenge for the quarter-final of the World Cup, for those who were there. But this victory had also served us for the following match in Scotland where we had been picked for lack of experience and perhaps also of humility.

We are warned of all that today, our players are two years older and we have gained collective experience and maturity which allow us to return to Cardiff in good conditions. But we also know that the Welsh have evolved since the start of the Tournament, we saw it in England during their last match.

“We are going to soak up the places the day before the match and the day of the match, the players have already proven it, they know how to switch to the big moment and sort out their emotions”

Did you talk about that game of 2020 again this week?
No, we mainly talked about the Welsh, their level of performance. Shaun (Edwards, one of Galthié’s assistants, who worked for 12 years in the Welsh staff) knows the high-level culture there and how they are going to approach this game and receive us. We are using the skills we have in the staff to prepare for this match.

Playing in this stadium, with all the pre-match ritual, at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. local time)… Should players be made aware of this?
They are used to these big matches at night. There was New Zealand in November, there will be England next week. There will be entertainment around it and everything that goes with it at the Millenium, but we’re going to soak up the place the day before the match and the day of the match, the players have already proven it, they know how to switch to the big moment and sort their emotions.

“Sheepish? It’s a center that plays on the wing so he knows what’s happening before he has the ball but also what’s happening afterwards. He also understood this usefulness of dezoning, of going to look for work to weigh everywhere on the ground “

Gabin Villière returns this week and like Damian Penaud on the other wing, he plays a lot in the game…
In our offensive organization, the wingers are free to move out of the area and look for work at the four corners of the field, when they are far from the game. They can then move around and they have time to find their position afterwards before the ball comes back in their area. We have players with quite incredible qualities and it would be a shame to use them once every twelve minutes. The goal is for them to participate in the game and be available for the nines and tens, or even work with the forwards. Gabin (Villiere) and Damian (Sheepish) excellent in this role.

More generally, what is the strength of a Damian Penaud?
It’s a center that plays on the wing so he knows what’s happening before he has the ball but also what’s happening afterwards. He also understood the usefulness of dezoning, of going to look for work to weigh everywhere on the ground given his rugby and physical qualities. It allows him to make big differences.

He is asked not to be satisfied with being efficient on his side or on the high balls, but to move and seek activity. He has also improved on the footwork and those balls that he can push and exploit behind. It’s another way for him to play duels and with his speed, it can be a test or put a lot of pressure on the opponent. »

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