France: Fabien Galthie states they are ‘certainly the team to beat’ ahead of the Rugby World Cup

Colin Newboult

France head coach Fabien Galthie was in a bullish mood after they ended their Six Nations campaign with a 41-28 triumph over Wales.

A week after their dominant 53-10 thrashing of England at Twickenham, Les Bleus once again racked up the points as they defeated the struggling Welsh.

It meant that they finished the tournament in second place, behind Grand Slam winners Ireland, and set them up nicely for their home Rugby World Cup.

Last competitive match before global tournament

Saturday’s encounter was their final competitive match before they face New Zealand in the opening game of the World Cup.

Although they were unable to win the Six Nations, Galthie is very happy with where they currently stand.

“I hope that teams are scared of us now,” he told reporters. “We’re certainly the team to beat.

“We do have an impressive victory ratio. We’ve only lost once here [in Paris], against Scotland.”

After claiming the Grand Slam in 2022 – their first in 12 years – France’s performances declined in the Autumn Nations Series and at the start of the Six Nations.

They only suffered one defeat during that period – to Ireland in Round Two – but Galthie knew they needed to improve.

That development came over the last two weekends as they comfortably defeated England and Wales.

“We started the Six Nations in a lacklustre way, we did as well as we could,” Galthie added.

“Four victories from five in four Six Nations, we have a success rate of 80% in the Six Nations.

“So it’s very positive, if we have to do a purely factual round-up of things.”

Star full-back Thomas Ramos is also looking towards their home World Cup, where they will likely go in as favourites, and the 27-year-old insists that they do not fear the added responsibility.

“It’s better that there’s enthusiasm than the opposite,” Ramos told AFP. “I don’t think it scares us.

“I think we’re starting to reach a maturity which means we manage to deal with pressure. The enthusiasm will help us be better than the previous World Cup, for example.”

Big year for club and country

The global tournament may well be Ramos’ main target, but he also has a big end to the season with Toulouse to think about.

“I’ll have a little week of holiday, which will do some good,” he added. “There’s a season to finish, whatever the case with our clubs, you have something to finish.

“Us with Toulouse, we’re still in it in two big competitions. The World Cup will arrive quickly, the preparation is at the start of July so it’s like it’s almost tomorrow.

“The end of the season will feel like 10,000 years.”

READ MORE: Five takeaways from France v Wales as Les Bleus’ quality shows in Paris