What the French newspapers are saying on Friday about Saturday’s Test against the Springboks.
It’s an unusually hefty edition of Midi Olympique today with the newspaper devoting six pages of analysis to Wednesday’s 2023 World Cup vote.
A ‘Divine Surprise for France!’ is the front page masthead headline, above a photograph of Antoine Dupoint, the 21-year-old scrumhalf who impressed against the All Blacks last week.
While there is little in Midi Olympique that hasn’t already been said, the paper – like the French media in general – takes delight in describing the humiliation of Bill Beaumont. The chairman of World Rugby is perceived to have an anti-France attitude hence the headline ‘Beaumont and World Rugby defeated by KO’.
There’s a more negative tone in the left-leaning Le Monde with the paper – on the other side of the political fence to Bernard Laporte – asking who RWC 2023 will benefit. Noting that Laporte talked a great game, the paper says the pressure is now on the FFR president to make good on his promise of record revenue.
L’Equipe focuses on tomorrow’s clash at the Stade de France and believes Guy Novès’ position is on the line.
‘A new defeat could bring about changes,’ write the paper, which envisages two scenarios if France lose a fifth consecutive Test. Firstly, Laporte sacks Novès’ assistants, Jeff Dubois and Yannnick Bru, aware that such a move would probably leave the head coach with no choice but to resign, or, alternatively, Laporte appoints a director of rugby above Novès.
Who might that be? L’Equipe says that according to its sources, ‘Clive Woodward is top of the list’. Laporte and Woodward are friends and the Englishman could be appointed as soon as next month to prepare France for the 2018 Six Nations. Would Novès accept such an appointment? L’Equipedoesn’t hazard a guess.
As for the Springboks, Midi Olympique‘s headline is ‘On the Brink of Implosion’ and the paper comforts itself in saying that they are in an even worse predicament than France after their ‘spanking’ against Ireland. Describing Allister Coetzee’s reign as ‘calamitous’, Midi says he won’t be around in 2018 whatever the outcome of the European tour.
The paper is in particular relishing the clash of the two No 8s, both of whom play their rugby on the Mediterranean coast. Toulon’s Duane Vermeulen plays his first Test in 18 months and he’s up against Louis Picamoles who, since leaving Northampton for Montpellier in the European summer, has looked a shadow of the player he was in the English Premiership. Picamoles need a big game, says Midi, ‘otherwise it’s the exit’.
Compiled by Gavin Mortimer in Paris