France U20’s produced the most exhilarating brand of Rugby Union I’ve seen for years! Whilst Wales tried hard, one can’t help feeling the structure, gain line bludgeon and the driving maul, from every line out earned from a Pen and subsequent field position from their graft at each breakdown, was pretty much all we could hope for. Conversely, the French had a glorious mix of direct carries of their own, with speed of recycle, an attacking kicking game, but seeing space early to exploit it, pass accuracy and movement off the ball, with support players arriving inside and outside of every ball carrier, a strong set piece base, electric speed and evasiveness and a confident approach to counter attacking underpinned by seeing and attacking space, offloading in the tackle and building a continuity to a game I’ve rarely seen from anyone in a long time. The last team I enjoyed watching as much, was New Zealand’s women in The World Cup Final.
This France u20’s team are packed with heads up decision makers and are in superb physical condition to play with such fluidity. A joy to watch.
Some comments from Connections of The Wales Team, pointed to the physical condition of The French and their experience of playing in The French Super 14, ‘not being up for it’ and turning ball over cheaply. The questions remain, who is responsible for the physical conditioning? Who is responsible for coaching the high level of skill, game management and evasiveness and an ability to create time on the ball by getting heads up early?
I’m fed up of listening to pundits banging on about alignment and strategy and Governance. The real issues are in the development of the game at all levels. The grassroots clubs need to enjoy the game. The kids need to move away from this ridiculous game called tag rugby. Change back to touch rugby games which encourage spatial awareness and movement off the ball. Rip up the WRU Skills model and look again and the way the skills are being passed on, share knowledge and change the culture to embrace being challenged.