MARSEILLE, Feb 24, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – France captain Guilhem Guirado said he is not kidding himself that victory over Italy has prepared France for the tougher challenges to come against England and Wales.
France ended a run of eight matches and 11 months without a win on Friday night in Marseille with a 34-17 Six Nations success against the hapless Italians — who had conceded more than 100 points over their previous two defeats to England and Ireland.
But having already lost to Ireland and Scotland and with England up next, Guirado insisted France still have a lot of work to do.
“It’s good, seriously. After one year and all the struggles of last week,” said Guirado, referring to France’s controversial late night out in Edinburgh following their defeat to Scotland, after which eight players where disciplined by the French Federation with one-game bans.
“We won’t brag but we’re happy to win again. But we’re not kidding ourselves, we’re quite frustrated with the way we played because we didn’t get the bonus point in the end and we tried to get it,” he added of their failure to find a fourth try.
“It’s no exaggeration, we wasted eight (try-scoring) chances.
“I’m happy because we had to win and we had to react, but not happy because there’s still a lot of work to do from tomorrow.”
Straight after the match, Guirado was thinking mostly about the chances that went begging.
“I have several images in my head which are obvious, where we dropped the ball, or made one pass too many, or were too slow, or the scrum-half went into the rucks so we didn’t have a passer.
“We know the improvements we need to make and it’s a long road because against teams like England and Wales, that won’t do.”
Mathieu Bastareaud was one of the biggest positives on his return to the side following a three-week ban for shouting a homophobic slur during a club match last month.
He had originally been called up by France coach Jacques Brunel for the first Six Nations match against Ireland but missed that and the Scotland game due to his ban.
But with eight French players given a one-match suspension by their own federation for their behaviour in Edinburgh, Bastareaud earnt a recall.
And he repaid that faith by scoring one try and creating another.
“Mathieu Bastareaud was on the original list but wasn’t able to attack the competition because of his ban,” said Brunel.
“We know his profile and his qualities — he has a unique profile. We knew from the beginning he would be useful to the team and he demonstrated that today.
“He gave us what we expected of him.”