It is only three years ago, having just watched France throw away a 16-0 interval lead to Wales in Paris, that the former Les Bleus flanker and multiple Grand Slam winner Olivier Magne delivered a few home truths. “We won’t win anything with the current generation,” he hissed.
“When I hear some players after games, it’s never their fault. At the first hitch, they collapse psychologically. This generation has been associated with defeat for too long – they are deeply traumatised.”
Magne, we now know, was two-thirds right. France’s national team did indeed require a new broom but, ultimately, the key has been better coaching and smarter man-management. Just ask Damian Penaud, Romain Ntamack, Uini Atonio, Paul Willemse, Julien Marchand, Demba Bamba, Gregory Alldritt and Gaël Fickou. All were part of the same matchday …