Interview. Rugby World Cup 2023: According to Xavier Garbajosa, this game against the All Blacks is « not a leap into the unknown ».

l’essentielXavier Garbajosa, a consultant for the Midi Olympique and ViaMidol World Cup, has faith in the French team and their recent history. Interview.

Pouvez-vous déjà ressentir l’enthousiasme entourant cette Coupe du monde ?

More than ever. Due to the recent good results of the French team, the fact of hosting the World Cup, the lineup of the first match, and the growing importance of rugby, there is a real enthusiasm and significant excitement, especially surrounding this first match.

Je ne peux pas reformuler :

Ce France-All Blacks ouvre la Coupe du monde mais est-il si important que ça dans la mesure où gagnant ou perdant, il faudra affronter l’Afrique du Sud ou l’Irlande en quarts de finale ?

It is symbolic, not necessarily decisive. Once again, it is important to remain measured because it is a rather accessible group with the biggest challenge being the Blacks. However, I believe that this first match should make an impact on everyone. Playing against the Blacks in the first match is also the best way to start your tournament well, leave a lasting impression, fuel the enthusiasm surrounding the French team, and create a real momentum. It is symbolic in more than one way but not decisive because if you happen to lose against New Zealand, your World Cup is not over, as we have seen in the past. We have experienced losing pool matches before and still made it to the finals. There is first a qualification phase and then there will be elimination matches. That will be a different competition, but this match is for history, to kickstart this competition.

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Cette équipe française a remporté des victoires contre les meilleures équipes du monde au cours des quatre dernières années. Nous supposons que cela est crucial pour renforcer la confiance avant une Coupe du monde…

Yes, it is very important for trust, for the collective image, for the image we also project to other nations. This means today that we are intimidating. We undeniably have the role of favorites. We must embrace it. But I sincerely believe that this team exudes a sense of serenity through certain leading players. We sense a French team that is not self-assured in an arrogant way, but confident in its ability to play with its strengths and always have that fierce desire to win. They have one motto: win, win.

Je ne peux pas reformuler.

Est-ce que les joueurs clés blessés peuvent influencer cette équipe ?

Certain injuries inevitably have an impact. I’m thinking of Romain Ntamack, Paul Willemse, and to a lesser extent Cyril Baille because he will be coming back. Undoubtedly, it always takes a toll. Losing a teammate in preseason just days before the World Cup is always frustrating. Now, you take one guy out and replace him with another, and the result is still there. So, it means that this group, this collective, is overflowing with talent and quality. Yes, it may have been a disappointment, an injustice to lose some players to injury at the time, but the team keeps going, must move forward, and the objective remains the same.

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Que pensez-vous des Blacks ? On dit qu’ils sont en déclin…

Let’s say that the results are not up to par with their prestigious team. That is a reality, but great teams never die. In their last match against the « Sud-Af » which is their latest outing, one can question the level of this team. It is a relatively young and inexperienced team, but oh so talented. And the Blacks, they will always be the Blacks. With their jerseys, their history, and everything they have brought… Tonight, we will face a team that will surely want to spoil the party, and that’s normal. They are still a quality team, but I believe that we are more than capable of defeating them.

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What will be the main keys to the match?

In terms of commitment and intensity, each player will need to win their individual duels both offensively and defensively, and give their best for the team. There will also be a certain amount of pressure because it is the first home match with all the supporters expecting a good result from the French team. The best way to relieve this pressure is to give everything in the battle. We need to be pragmatic and efficient. The goal is to keep the Blacks at a distance on the scoreboard because we know that with a grain of rice, they can make a paella. At the slightest opportunity, they are capable of scoring points. But as you mentioned, France has beaten all the best nations in the world in the past four years, so it’s not a leap into the unknown. They know how to approach this kind of match. There will be a special flavor because it is the opening match and it’s the World Cup, but everything suggests that this French team is ready for this event.