France boss Galthié outlines evolution of the rugby species ahead of Namibia tie

By Paul Myers - RFI
SEP 21, 2023 LISTEN

France rugby coach Fabien Galthié described as Darwinian the recall of star players such as skipper Antoine Dupont and fly-half Matthieu Jalibert to the starting line-up for Thursday's match against Namibia in the World Cup. 

Victory in the clash at the Vélodrome in Marseille would seal a spot in the quarter-finals following successes over New Zealand and Uruguay.

The duo were among 12 players who sat out the win over Uruguay in Lille on 14 September after their efforts against New Zealand on the opening day of the tournament on 8 September at the Stade de France.

"Our method is based on adaptability," said Galthié. "We adapt and read according to the deadlines. It's Darwin's theory: the most intelligent species adapt."

France are expected to ease past the Africans who lost 71-3 to New Zealand in Toulouse on 15 September.


But ahead of the clash, Galthié reiterated the need to concentrate on strategy.

"We have a vision of the preparation and rotation of the squad," said the former France skipper.

"We look at performances, we need everyone," he added. "The match against New Zealand was clearly identified. The match was a success for the group, not just for the team. 

"For the match against Uruguay, those who had played against New Zealand needed to recover. 

"After the match against Uruguay in Lille, we had seven days to put those who had played against New Zealand back in.

"The team against Namibia is the one we had in mind to field straight after the Uruguay match."


The intricacies of honing a corps of prime rugby specimens lie light years away for Galthié's Namibian counterpart Allister Coetzee.

"There's less than 1,000 registered rugby players in Namibia," said Coetzee.

"These guys work full-time. Some players had to quit their jobs to be here, to play in a World Cup.

"Some guys are travelling five hours just to go to a training session and five hours back.

"That is what the people back home realise and understand.

"When these players come here it's really not always about the result but it's the fight they show and the never-say-die attitude."

That desire to score a try cost Namibia points during the match against New Zealand.


On several occasions Namibia kicked for better field position rather than going for the penalty conversion and three points.

And it is a policy they vowed to puruse during Thursday night's game.

"We're not going to reach anything if we kick for the poles," said skipper Johan Deysel.

"Against New Zealand, the crowds were behind us when we went for the try instead of kicking for the three points. They like the challenge that we take on. We're going to try to score tries.

"That's what rugby's about, that's the fun part of it and that's what the crowd likes. We'll certainly go for tries again. We won't back out."

That devil-may-care approach emerges from a lack of jeopardy. Hippy mentalities usually skip to the side with glory at stake.

France - should they claim Group A - or come second are likely to meet either South Africa or Ireland in the last eight.


"We're focused on the match against Namibia," said France forward Thibaud Flament.

"We don't want to make the mistake of focusing on a match that could come later but of course we always keep an eye on teams we might face."

That eventual opponent should become clearer on Saturday night when Ireland and South Africa play in Group B at the Stade de France.

"Even if Namibia are the weaker team on paper we're not going to win by giving the ball away," said France full-back Thomas Ramos.

"Above all, we want to enjoy the game while paying due respect to Namibia.

"We also want to improve our attacking systems. That's our target for the match."