Patrick Arlettaz, assistant coach of the French team: “Simplify so that everyone can find their way”

Patrick Arlettaz, assistant coach of the French team: “Simplify so that everyone can find their way”
Patrick Arlettaz, assistant coach of the French team: “Simplify so that everyone can find their way”

“After two weeks of training, what is the atmosphere like for the climb to the first test in Mendoza on Saturday (9 p.m. in France)?
Inevitably when we start the week of preparation for the match, we see it in training, it’s a little more nervous. Which is normal. We project ourselves on the fact that we are going to represent France against a World Cup semi-finalist. Over the last twenty years, there have been eight confrontations here for two French victories. This statistic already shows how difficult it is to win here. So we expect a difficult match that we want to win, because we have a duty to exist. Until now we were trying to refine our project. Now we will have to put it on the table in front of fierce opposition.

Many new players have to digest this project quickly. How does the coach adapt to this situation?
We, coaches, have to be good enough to simplify things to make everyone play together and to make sure it is well understood. The players have indeed had a very intense fortnight in terms of information and training. If we have been good, it will have been digested. But it is a difficult challenge. It is always a race for time in the French team and when there are so many new players, it accelerates. There, in match week, we cannot add things.

“Modern rugby is about dispossession and possession”

Precisely in your sector of attack and three-quarter play, in relation to the Tournament, how do you proceed?
It is a desire to make it exist by simplifying so that everyone can find their way around. One of the keys to the attack is to be very quickly in an organization that everyone knows so that everyone can express their talent in it. The simpler the organization, the easier it is to set up and the more effective it is, the easier it is to have all the options to get out of it.

Should we expect more possession?
I’ve said it before, rugby is a game where you look for spaces. It’s ridiculous to deprive yourself of them when they’re on the front line and it’s ridiculous to insist when they’re in depth. So I know that I embody this debate in your country (smile)but when we pose the problem like that, suddenly, it’s much simpler. Where we start to discuss is when the spaces are neither on the front line nor on the depth because do we continue to insist on the front line to create them on the depth or the other way around? On that too we need a balance. Modern rugby is made of dispossession and possession. There is a problem of energy, also the fact that we have little time to refine, so we must not be too stubborn on the front line either. We can be a little more.

“We must seize every opportunity to get the jersey”

You find an Argentina with a new coach and new players. Where do you hope to find spaces?
I’m not going to tell you where the spaces are, otherwise they’ll fill them and that’ll ruin fifteen days of work for us (laugh), but we have an idea. The new coach Felipe Contepomi was already part of the previous staff so I think there is a kind of continuity like with us. We expect something evolutionary but not a paradoxical change. We worked on images from the World Cup, older confrontations and if that does not give indications on the organizations, it gives some on the players.

Are the latest training sessions likely to change the team composition planned for this first test, Saturday in Mendoza?
As long as the team has not been announced, it is not fixed. You have seen a big trend. Fabien has said it 2,500 times but to go and get the jersey you have to seize every opportunity to do it. The first test will provide lessons on certain players, the Uruguay match trends on others to make a composition for the last test identical or different.

Is the atmosphere a factor that you are going to make your younger players aware of in particular?
I come from a corner of France (Perpignan) where the fans are very chauvinistic, passionate, loud and it reminds me of the Argentinian, Latin fans, very hot. Where I come from it’s important to have the fans behind you so I’m aware that it’s a fantastic asset for the Pumas to have these fans behind them.”

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