10:49 PM, March 12, 2022
Whatever the meaning, literally or figuratively, Grégory Alldritt has come a long way. He is at the top of the balls worn in the Six Nations Tournament, although it was less visible in Wales on Friday, in a tough and closed game (9-13). What happened in the millennium, “the body still remembers”he determined at the end of the morning on Saturday. “There is fatigue, a lot of pain, but no bad shots. † Above all, there is the horizon of an apotheosis at the Stade de France on Saturday: a tenth Grand Slam, the first since 2010, also dates from the last victory in the Tournament.
This XV of France now seems to be able to adapt to the opponent and the events. Is it a chameleon team?
Perhaps. What is certain is that we are always focused on the game to come, not the one after. We are preparing it in all aspects so that there are few unknowns at kick-off, both in rugby and on the sidelines. When we look at the match, we see that it matches exactly what was marked by the staff. In Cardiff we suspected it would be very tactical, morally exhausting and not a day conducive to big flights. Still, it’s always an achievement to win there.
Your defense made the Welsh sick. Rotting the opponent’s life, is it also a trademark?
It is the defense that shows the character of a team. Largely thanks to Shaun Edwards [l’entraîneur anglais de la défense], we have learned to never let go. In fact, it’s exactly the definition of this group: we’re friends, and when it’s hard on the ground, we see that we don’t let go. Example with the last set of the Welsh: if the team isn’t welded like this, I’m convinced it will burst. Because after a while there’s one that won’t push enough for the boy next door.
When we were young, France was at the top and we were used to seeing them win
You were 13 at the last Grand Slam. Do images remain?
No specific flash, but I remember the tournament represented something fantastic. I played in Auch with my friends and I was especially interested in the third lines Imanol Harinordoquy, Thierry Dusautoir, Louis Picamoles. But I would never have bet a coin on the fact that I could take it from them one day. They each have at least 80 choices, and now that I’m in the game, I realize even more that they were monsters. When we were young, France was at the top and we were used to seeing them win. We have lost that in the past ten years. So this Grand Slam, we feel like an entire country is waiting for it.
You are known for your impact on the carried ball. Is the collision a more technical aspect than we think?
We don’t think about every contact, it becomes instinctive with hard work in training, but it is very technical indeed. Place the ball well so as not to make it explode on contact, attack the weak shoulder, attack from a certain height. While they are covered enough not to end up on the ground or being picked up too quickly.
It’s great to have a captain like Antoine Dupont
Do you feel like the defense is waiting for you more now in this frontal mode?
Yes, and that’s what drives me to change my playing style a little bit, to let the pass get more loose. Because if there are defenders on me, it’s because they’re not somewhere else. Trying to force myself to go this way, do this little offload [passe après contact]† The idea is to become unpredictable for the opponent.
France is now a locomotive in the Northern Hemisphere, do you think the English are particularly motivated by the idea of derailing you?
Certainly. The Crunch is legendary. They will come to make it as difficult as possible for us and they will certainly succeed because they are very good.
You’ve been standing next to Antoine Dupont since the cadets. Is there anything that surprises you about its rise?
Everything is great about this guy! Every time we tell ourselves that what we entrust to him will eventually become too much. But it is impervious to pressure. He suffers nothing, everything seems easy. And for all his individual and collective titles, for all his responsibilities, he remains the same man I’ve known for ten years. It’s great to have a captain like that.