France head coach Fabien Galthié has given a rousing speech ahead of his side’s Guinness Six Nations Super Saturday showdown with Ireland in Paris, as he reaches out to rugby fans across the country.
The message comes after President Emmanuel Macron declared a second national lockdown in France that starts today and will last until at least the end of November.
The clash with Andy Farrell’s will still go ahead at Stade de France, with Galthié expressing his empathy for those who cannot be in attendance but will be watching from home.
“We live in an ultra-secure sanitary bubble, but that doesn’t prevent players from being permanently connected with their families,” the France boss said.
“We are no stranger to what’s going on around us, with people, friends, loved ones, craftsmen, farmers, caregivers, who are about to suffer, it shows even more the mission of the XV of France.
“We don’t have to complain about playing in an empty stadium. Because we know that behind this empty stadium Saturday night, there are millions of supporters who will grow with the French team, waiting for a moment of sharing, to be pleased with them.
“This is what will live in us in the coming hours, fulfilling this mission that makes even more sense with recent events. This is a chance to continue playing, we are aware of being privileged.
“Our thoughts are with the kids who can’t play, all the amateur rugby that can’t play. We want to tell them to hold on. We will play for them. It’s this message that drives us.”
The match in Paris will bring the curtain down on the 2020 Guinness Six Nations and promises to produce one of the closest finishes to the Championship in recent history.
Ireland lead the table by a single point heading into the last round of fixtures, with both France and England hot on their heels in search of Championship glory, with a whole range of permutations possible, which you can read HERE.
Both sides look in fine fettle heading into the grand finale, with Ireland running in seven tries against Italy last time out, while France looked imperious against Wales in their 38-21 warm-up victory last weekend.
Galthié has made just one change to his starting XV ahead of the showdown, with Arthur Vincent restored to the side, replacing the injured Teddy Thomas, which sees Gael Fickou move out to the wing.
And with a settled squad, the French boss is looking to reproduce the sort of quality witnessed last week, as Wayne Pivac’s side were put to the sword in Paris in a dominant home performance.
It may have been a convincing victory, but Galthié was conscious of the fact that France gave away 16 penalties in that victory and wants his side to stay on the right side of the law this time around.
“Our goal is very clear: we need to be consistent. We performed against England and then we were average against Italy. Then we performed against Wales before losing to Scotland. Now we’ve just been very good against Wales,” he said.
“Those 16 penalties show that we’re an aggressive team and we must remain an aggressive team. We have identified where we need to ease off a little bit but overall we must stay aggressive.”