Fabien Galthie slammed as ‘not a leader of men’ after ‘slap in the face’ loss

Jared Wright
France: Fabien Galthie scratches his head in the Quarterfinal between France and South Africa of the Rugby World Cup 2023

France: Fabien Galthie scratches his head in the Quarterfinal between France and South Africa of the Rugby World Cup 2023.

France head coach Fabien Galthie has been slammed by former employers and teammates following his side’s defeat to Ireland in the Six Nations.

Les Bleus were hammered 38-17 by Ireland in their opening match of the 2024 Six Nations and head to Murrayfield under the threat of losing three Test matches in a row for the first time under Galthie.

The pressure is mounting on France to perform after the side crashed out of their home Rugby World Cup in the quarter-finals, losing to eventual champions South Africa, and the opening-round defeat has only amplified the tension on Les Bleus.

Ex-Toulon boss rips into Galthie

Following the disappointing performance against Ireland, Galthie has faced scrutiny from all corners of the French media, with former France coach Philippe Saint-Andre, ex-Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal and former teammate Richard Dourthe slamming the head coach and his team.

“He is a great technician, but he is not a great man manager,” former Toulon president Boudjellal, who worked with Galthie at the Top 14 club, told Sud Ouest.

“Now that those coaches who Bernard Laporte brought in to counter-balance the weaknesses in Galthie’s character and could say ‘no’ to him have gone, I fear we will end up with the Galthie we knew at Toulon.

“That is to say a man who, generally speaking, puts people’s backs up in the dressing room very quickly.

“The Galthie who never took the blame for mistakes.”

Boudjellal also questioned Galthie’s statement that he would be continuing with the same group of players from the 2023 World Cup until the 2027 global showpiece.

“When he completely changed teams during tours to allow the starters to rest, it worked well because there were young players playing with desire and energy,” he said.

“Then, when you say ‘I will take this group until 2027’, the guys are not worried. They say to themselves ‘The French team is fixed, it’s us.’ It puts the players in a comfortable situation.

“They should have changed things, there are defeats that builds a group but we risk having defeats that will destroy the group. This group has a lot of experience, but they no longer learn from failure.”

Ireland outclassed France

Meanwhile, Saint-Andre was surprised at how much better Ireland were than France in the opening game.

“One can talk about Willemse’s red card, but the thing that surprised me the most was the difference in the speed of movement,” Saint-Andre told L’Equipe.

“The Irish did everything at 10,000 kilometres an hour. They tackled and got back on their feet quicker than we did.”

He added: “I had the impression at the World Cup we were on the same level as other teams when we did not have the ball, three months later it is no longer the case. Is it down to physical reasons? Or is it a mix of mental and physical reasons?

“This difference jumped out at me on Friday. There were cases when the Irish kicked that some players were walking, not running, and had trouble getting back.”

System needs a review if it is not a one-off result

Galthie’s former teammate Dourthe has called for a big reaction to the opening loss as France head to Murrayfield in round two to face Scotland.

“Simply put, if what happened in Marseille was not a one-off and if the slap in the face France received does not spark a reaction in Scotland, then the whole strategy, even the system, must be revised for the next four years,” he told Midi Olympique.

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