“We were the lab rats,” says Guilhem Guirado

Guilhem Guirado, 74 selections, 33 of which as captain of the XV of France, surrendered to RMC Sport for the long-awaited France-England on Saturday evening. The whore knows the generation well as it was launched shortly before his international retirement. Admiringly, he strongly believes in the Grand Slam in the Six Nations and recalls the priority now given to the roster.

Guilhem, how do you see this French team that can reach the Grand Slam against England on Saturday night?

Like everyone else, it’s very exciting. We are all happy, all happy with the results that are there compared to what they have been aiming for. Nowadays everyone is afraid of the French team and that is a very nice thing to see. There is something very strong coming out of the group. I know most of them because they started when I was still in the French team. I like to follow them, support them. The XV of France had a great final on Saturday.

For a long time the French team was not the priority, especially during your time in Blue. You complained a lot about it, were you finally listened to?

We were, kind of, the lab rats. We’ve seen a lot of reforms implemented, a lot of things that have been implemented in the difficult years. We have the impression that the solution has just been found with the priority given to the French team, the protected players. We were out every weekend. It was difficult to maintain a stable team throughout the tournament. There were on average between 10 and 15 injured, we asked between 30 and 40 players. This year the staff used 25 or 26 players. A small group eventually with many people at the beginning of the week to train. It’s hard for those who carry the shield, but it’s good for everyone. This preparation helps the French team.

So Saturday is the Crunch, what memory do you keep of this special meeting?

For me in the preparation it was always a match on the sidelines of the other matches of the 6 countries. We felt there was something different. Through history, upbringing, rivalry. For ten years it was always a complicated game to manage, but also exciting to play. Huge matches, incredible to play. Competitions that make you go one way or the other. Never half measures. After defeats to England we had critical moments, with crises after, big mess

England have already lost twice during the tournament (against Scotland and Ireland), should we be afraid of this team?

You must always have this little fear, this little positive fear. One can still be vulnerable even if there are consistent results. You must be modest but also ambitious. This team radiates a lot of power. Even in the difficult times they came together, they regrouped and they managed to pick up the game again. It will help them get this Grand Slam. I think we are more confident and stronger than England at the moment

Twelve years waiting for the French team to win a title, a win would be a good sign a year before the World Cup…

Yes, winning a title would be good for everyone. A good dose of self-confidence. It’s been two years that’s not far from winning the tournament. There it would be a shame to lose everything on the last day. I hope they will live up to everything that has already been done for 4 games, even 7 games, with this winning streak that started in early November. Winning the Six Nations Tournament is a signal that will be sent to all teams before the World Cup.

Interview by Julien Landry