L’Equipe says France face ‘hour of truth’ against Boks

18 November 2017 - 13:59
By Liam Del Carme‚ In Paris
Rugby posts. 123RF Stock Image
Rugby posts. 123RF Stock Image

Following four straight defeats there will be an air of desperation about France when they take on the Springboks at Stade de France on Saturday night.

A fifth defeat in a row for Guy Noves’s side could spell doom for the grizzled coach who has been winless since last season’s Six Nations. Their last victory was the mildly farcical 20-18 victory over Wales‚ which arrived under dubious circumstances.

Three defeats to the Springboks in South Africa in June and another last weekend at the Stade de France against the All Blacks means Monsieur Noves is firmly on the back foot.

Noves is the much-celebrated former long-time coach of Toulouse who bided his time before becoming France coach after the last World Cup. Like his predecessor‚ Philippe Saint Andre‚ Noves has underwhelmed in the job and a fifth straight defeat would place his head on the guillotine.

Respected sports paper L’Equipe didn’t mince their words with their front page headline this morning “The hour of truth”.

Noves knows he’s got very little room to manoeuvre. He has a win ratio of 37 percent but Bok coach Allister Coetzee’s isn’t much better at 41.

A measure of how unpalatable these two teams have become can be gleaned from the modest ticket sales for Saturday night’s match (kickoff: 10pm SA time‚ 9pm in France). Only 55 000 seats have been sold which stands in stark contrast to the sell out the All Blacks drew last weekend.

Saturday’s game‚ however‚ can set France on the path to restoration under Noves.

The Tricolores showed some encouraging signs in the second half last week against the All Blacks. The tourists could only muster 12 percent of the possession in the second half but France had too big a deficit to make up.

The Springboks‚ too‚ are seeking improvement after last week’s lacklustre performance against Ireland. They have partly addressed their shortcomings with personnel changes in the considerable shape of Duane Vermeulen at No8 and Handre Pollard at flyhalf.

It is hoped they can inject some verve and vigour into a Springbok performance and heap more misery on Noves.