If the scenario of this France-South Africa resembles that of the previous week against Australia, we have clearly gone up two notches in the intensity and, therefore, the level of play. Les Bleus still came out winners, but they suffered enormously. Which also highlights their enormous mental strength. (source: Autumn nations series).
26% possession in the opposing 22m: the new “French touch”
Before the start of the international fall sequence, Cameron Woki had dropped this enigmatic sentence. ” We changed our game on this tour, we changed a lot of things and we’ll see if it works.. If nothing absolutely revolutionary is obvious, a trend all the same: against the Springboks, the Blues have played 26% of their possessions in the opposing 22m. A week earlier against Australia, it was even 34%. This French team does not throw balloons of the four corners of the pitch and uses more footwork than his opponents. It only triggers long sequences when the zone of truth becomes clearer. This French team is a snake, a rattlesnake, a cobra : he waits, waits, freezes. It leaves the majority of the movements to its prey. Until the opening, where he leaps at the jugular.
70% fast rucks: the Boks (also) set fire
We expected the fierce Springboks in combat, they did not disappoint with a commitment that has long put France on the back foot. But they weren’t satisfied with that. They are often the ones who put an end to the exchanges of foot games to get the ball back in their hands. Strategically, they also tried hard to touch their pocket wingers Arendse and Kolbe, whether through cross play at the foot or then through the passing game. Above all, they constantly sought to energize, even to keep the ball up close in a physical challenge: 70% of their offensive rucks lasted less than 3 seconds. In addition to resisting frontally, the Blues then had to do so by accelerating their replacements, since they were unable to slow down the balls on the ground. To emerge victorious from such a context says a lot about their spirit of resistance.
5 concussion protocols: physical commitment to the limit
The power of the Springboks has taken its toll. In the direct, frontal, hormonal challenge, France suffered overall. This is not really a surprise, in this area culturally dominated by South Africa. A statistic illustrates this: 8 “offensive” tackles (which have pushes the striker back) made by the Springboksnone for the Blues.
In the collective exercise of force, penetrating groups, the French have also long struggled. They folded, with the merit for them of never having broken up.
This commitment on both sides gives a meeting of superb intensity. A downside, however: five concussion protocols were ordered on Saturday evening (Mbonambi, Kolbe, Atonio, Flament, Danty) including four in the first half alone.