Philippe Sella hopes to witness the French team achieve something remarkable in the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

l’essentielPhilippe Sella, a fan of the French team, hopes to see them win the William Webb Ellis trophy this year.

Comme de nombreuses personnes, on peut imaginer que vous êtes impatient que cette Coupe du monde commence…

I expect an open competition. Several teams can hope to be world champions. I hope for an engaging World Cup, of course, but with movement, speed, and changes of pace on the field. The teams are better prepared. There will be differences in the groups, of course, but there will be a battle to finish first, second, and avoid the third place. We can have surprises.

Quelle est votre impression sur l’équipe de France ?

I am a forever supporter. Go Blues! I want to see a team that enjoys themselves. For a little while now, what they have been offering is pleasant. This competition is long, and we cannot be at our best every day. Hence the importance of expanded groups. The first two places seem secured, but I am wary of the Italians who are improving. The peak form must then come into play for the quarter-finals, a pivotal match.

À LIRE AUSSI : la France prête pour un mois et demi de folie ovale

Pourquoi ?

This is the first match of the finals. It is the chosen team that will step onto the field. Also, reaching the semi-finals is the opportunity to play an additional match for sure because in my opinion, we should not underestimate the match for third place. Our French team looks great. It is in harmony.

Auriez-vous aimé jouer avec elle ?

Quand on est amoureux du rugby et des Bleus évidemment, mais à mon âge ce n’est plus possible ! On sent un élan, du rebond. Elle sait où aller avec ses joueurs et son staff. Je ne suis pas totalement objectif car je ne suis pas à l’intérieur de l’équipe, mais c’est mon ressenti. Et j’imagine qu’il doit être encore plus fort à l’intérieur du groupe. Ils peuvent aller chercher quelque chose de grand.

À LIRE AUSSI : Dupont et les Blacks, histoire en cours

Quels sentiments évoque en vous la Coupe du monde ?

There are many stories of the World Cup. All the memories come back every four years. The World Cup is also about beautiful encounters. And at each edition, we all come together. I spent the week in Pontlevoy for the World Cup Heritage (school competition). With Daniel Dubroca, we met David Kirk, Brad Thorn, François Pienaar there. What a pleasure… The past shapes the present.

En conclusion, seriez-vous prêt à tenter le jeu des prédictions ?

I expect a fierce battle between the North and the South. Ireland and France are playing very well. New Zealand will be there, of course, as well as the South African world champions. I also like Scotland’s style of play, although they lack power. I have more questions about Australia, England, and Wales. In 1998, during the World Cup, I was in awe: there was a real sense of unity, with an entire country supporting a team. So why not in 2023?

Philippe Sella et la Coupe du monde

Du haut de ses 111 sélections, Philippe Sella est une icône du rugby. En Coupe du monde, il a tout connu, sauf le plus beau : finaliste, quart de finaliste et troisième. L’ancien trois-quart centre revient sur ces trois aventures qui ont marqué à tout jamais son histoire avec les Bleus.

« In 1987, it was a discovery! We failed in the final against the All Blacks with a superb generation. But we were tired for this match. In the quarterfinals against Fiji, already, we had to run a lot to win. Fortunately, our forwards were there. In the semifinals, this mythical victory also required a lot of energy from us. So we lacked freshness in the last match against the Blacks who had a « easier » journey. I remember very well lacking energy that day. »

In 1991, the French team lost at Parc des Princes in the quarter-finals against England. A very unique match, « a true Crunch » as Sella prefers to smile about 20 years later. « The English were better than us that day, that’s all. »

Will Penaud surpass him?

Philippe Sella ended his international career during the 1995 World Cup in South Africa. He was stopped by the host country in the semi-finals. « Abdel (Benazzi) missed a few centimeters. And the South African scored in the middle of ten players in the try area. A World Cup is often decided by small details. » But he smiles and emphasizes the victory for third place against the English, who troubled the French XV for many years.

And, to connect the past and the present, the former inside center will keep a close eye on a French player during this 10th edition of the World Cup. Philippe Sella is the 4th highest try scorer in the history of the French team (30 tries). But in the coming days, he could drop down a rank, with Damian Penaud reaching 29 tries. « I hope he surpasses me easily! He’s a prolific try scorer, just like Vincent Clerc before him. The difference is that Damian has a more graceful running style. I love this player who moves a lot on the field. A free spirit who can disrupt the defense. He should do it as much as possible, while of course respecting the fundamentals of his position. » The Agen native will be the first to jump for joy at the tries scored by his former teammate’s son. And as many times as possible!