Six Nations: France great Raphael Ibanez plays down title chances

·2-min read

Ex-France captain Raphael Ibanez has ridiculed suggestions that Fabien Galthie’s men go into the Six Nations as favourites.

Les Bleus are the coming force in the world game after putting together a young and talented squad of players.

They have picked up some impressive results since the end of the 2019 World Cup and also played plenty of exciting rugby.

Galthie’s charges are still lacking a bit of consistency, having failed to pick up any silverware under his guidance, but their victory over the All Blacks showed what they are capable of.

As a result of that triumph, many are predicting that the French will finally win their first Six Nations since 2010, but Ibanez insists that the team are not getting carried away.

Being talked up by the British

“Some people want to put that label on us. When I saw that, I thought, ‘Another hit from the Brits!’” France’s manager told AFP.

“Two years ago, they thought that this team was made up of young kids, not seasoned at the very highest level. Now, they are painting us as the kings of the world!

“None of that is terribly serious. We have a clear idea of what’s going on.”

It is shaping up to be an outstanding Six Nations, with England and Ireland – alongside the French – going through the Autumn Nations Series unbeaten.

Scotland also look a threat and continue to improve, while Wales are the defending champions, albeit they have a rather lengthy injury list going into the tournament.

“The November internationals revealed that teams from the northern hemisphere are in great shape,” said Ibanez.

“Scotland defeated Australia, England beat the world champions (South Africa), Ireland beat New Zealand a week before we did… All these teams are lined up and in a position to win.”

Despite playing down their favourites tag, Ibanez says that their ultimate target is to claim the title.

“The objective is to win,” the France manager added.

“We want to win matches. It’s a goal that all the players share. The November Tests made us aware of the potential of the players. They are talented but, above all, they are extremely ambitious.

“Other teams want to win it too. We have to respect them while being aware of our own strengths. The France XV has a case to put forward.”

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