This experience brought back great memories for me. I rubbed shoulders very closely with two young soldiers. I met their families and discovered their village. The simple fact of learning the colors of the houses and their history, all contributed to living a unique experience.
-20 years without Gaildon and Payelle-Barry: Door to World Cup open for France’s XV?
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Did you feel a different atmosphere compared to Toulon?
Already, they speak another language, which is very different from what I experienced in Toulon. But yes, the spirit in the Basque Country is very different. At the same time, the entire region here is passionate about rugby. Rugby is fantastic here.
Giteau with RCT in 2016
Credits: Getty Images
We’re feeling excited, do you prefer the Basque Country to Var?
Nothing is more beautiful than Toulon.
The World Cup is in France in a few months (September 8 – October 28), will you be back on this occasion?
Of course, it was a great event and I have a lot of good memories of 2007. Even though we were stopped in the quarter-finals, it was the World Cup I wanted. I have always loved France, but I really appreciated the atmosphere and the support from the supporters. Everyone had fun. It was really incredible, so hosting the World Cup here in 2023 has me coming back.
Are you excited for this World Cup?
What’s great about this is that there are six teams that have the best chance of winning the trophy. Either way, the group stages promise to be exciting with attacking, attractive and top-notch rugby. Then the conditions are better and it’s a better time for the World Cup. The weather will be wonderful for everyone.
I imagine you’re talking about six possible winning teams and you’ve put France’s XV in it.
Yes. They have been very consistent for a long time and they have played great tournaments. They have many key players who have won domestic cups and European competitions. They know how to win, so they have a big chance. After that I want to play the France-Australia final, but I speak with my heart.
Giteau against France in 2008
Credits: Getty Images
Are you afraid to face these blues?
I can’t say because I haven’t played against them. Today, there is no easy team. The French are very dangerous. They are talented, very powerful players and players who can make key decisions and control the game. They are a very good team.
Exactly, you are talking about decision making players, who are you targeting?
Romain Ntamak is confident in his abilities. Talks a lot on the field and controls the game. Antoine Dupont is also a good leader for the team. And Thomas Ramos has a great kicking game and is very dangerous. If you have n°9, n°10 and n°15 controlling the game in France, you are strong. I think they have the talent and experience to take France’s XV to the World Cup.
We see Australia struggling (coach change, just two wins in last six meetings)… Are you worried with a deadline like this approaching?
I didn’t care, the product was really good. I think Australia has a better chance. We had a lot of injuries last year. Now that they’re back and Coach Eddie Jones is here, I think we’ve got a chance. Because the group is very high.
How far do you plan to go?
Looking at the draw and the teams that make up our group, I think we should qualify for the finals. And while you’re at it, there’s only three matches left to win the World Cup.
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