France have turned to World Cup final referee Jérôme Garcès to help them with their discipline as they look to improve on last year’s runners-up spot in the Guinness Six Nations.
Les Bleus enjoyed a resurgent 2020, narrowly missing out on the title both in the Guinness Six Nations and the Autumn Nations Cup.
However their discipline occasionally let them down, conceding the most penalties in the Championship, while also picking up four yellow cards and a red.
In a bid to improve that facet of their game, head coach Fabien Galthié has brought Garcès, who retired from refereeing after officiating the 2019 World Cup final, on board to help.
The experienced official has joined the French camp and is helping in training as Les Bleus look to clean up their game in 2021.
Speaking at the 2021 Guinness Six Nations virtual launch, Galthié explained: “We have made some changes for the new season. It’s the third competition that we are playing together.
“We have made changes, to the schedule of the days, training and the balance between each practice we develop to gain a collective know-how. There are elements that we were able to identify, refereeing for example. We have put that into training, content around the referee.
“It was something that we perhaps didn’t approach with enough precision last year, and it can have a big impact in a game. So today we have brought Jérôme Garcès into our staff, he’s a reference in France for refereeing and he lives with us and gives us his vision of the game which allows us to understand how we can improve our rugby with the referee. It’s about playing with the referee, not against.”
Galthié and his staff will be without a few key players from the 2020 campaign, with Virimi Vakatawa ruled out of the Championship, while Romain Ntamack will also be absent from the opening rounds.
However there was good news about back-rower Grégory Alldritt, who is currently not with the squad as he gets treatment for a knee problem.
He is due to speak to Galthié on Thursday and could re-join the squad next week to prepare for the opener against Italy.
He added: “I spoke to him on the phone yesterday, we chatted about the evolution of his knee. He’s very optimistic and everything is going well. We are due to speak again tomorrow to see how it’s going and if he could come back as soon as next Monday.”