Meet the catalyst for the French rugby revolution
A Frenchman complimenting the “rosbif” state of mind; then the pigs will fly. But are the humble Piqueronies aware of its reputation? Like the man who started the new wave, the man who forged a team that will likely head to its own World Cup next year as favourites?
“That’s not true at all,” he said. “It would be better to say that I had the privilege of accompanying them, that I had the chance to work with them, and that I, like many others, participated in their journey, in their work, in their… fulfillment. My deep conviction is that they are excellent players and excellent workers.
“I really like this image of ‘accompanying’ players. The real strength of a rugby player is very often himself. There are people who help them, accompany them, but really our job is to reveal the real strength and the real wealth of each of these players, and they are really rich players with quality prizes.
“I’m happy to see a France team laughing”
Having “quality batches” is one thing; but reaching the top – France are ranked second in the official World Rugby rankings behind Ireland but are widely regarded as the pre-eminent team at world level – is another matter altogether. Nevertheless, Piqueronies knew his caddies were always destined for greatness, for two reasons: their work ethic alongside their talent and a harmonious and streamlined French rugby system.
“We never doubted that there was huge potential in this group – the majority of them are now playing in the Top 14,” says Piequeronies.
“They are talented boys, but they have all been part of a generation that has won – a lot – which has given them confidence. We have worked with them a lot at Under-18 and Under-20 level, for the put them on a path, for several years, where they had the ability to win games – the Six Nations and the World Youth Championships. And that’s what they look like when playing for France now. is a generation of young players who win.
“It was because of the progression in French rugby. One of our objectives was to put, from an early age, to develop a feeling of belonging for the players who had been identified in the succession plan. At the under 18 level, under 20 level, we have selected the best to train with the seniors in order to create a “French” culture; a common culture. And this is what we are experiencing today, the fruit of this labor, a “France” course, with the best elements detected very young.
“What we also forget is that in 2018 when we won the Under-20 title, eight of the 15 who started the final were one or even two years younger than 20. That was the work of this background and these selection criteria. . It wasn’t necessarily the best 20-year-old players – but the best French players. I think that’s where we got it right. We put young talents very early in the French teams and that’s what it did, accelerate their development.