In Rueil-Malmaison, their base camp, the Blues of Fabien Galthié were welcomed by 5,000 supporters.
The XV of France, welcomed on Saturday afternoon by some 5,000 people in Rueil-Malmaison (Hauts-de-Seine), its base camp during the Mondial-2023, ured to live the enthusiasm around the team as “positive pressure“, six days before the opening match against the All Blacks.
“Here you will be pampered“, launched the Minister of Sports and the Olympic Games Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, during the ceremony, which was held under a cloudy sky but by 30 degrees, in the park of the castle of Bois-Préau.
Asked about the public’s reception, winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey, the youngest player in the XV of France (20 years old, 3 caps), said that it was “warm to the heart, it really launches the World Cup“.
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The pressure is mounting for the Blues
“So yes, it puts the pressure yes, a little bit, when we see everyone who came, it shows that there is a great enthusiasm behind us, but it’s positive pressure“, he added.
The 33 players and their staff, who are staying in a nearby hotel, arrived on foot, dressed in dark suits. They broke through the crowd gathered on the lawns of the park, at the foot of the statue of Empress Josephine, long owner of the nearby Château de la Malmaison.
Framed by a guard of honor formed by the young players of the local club, the teammates of Antoine Dupont, at the head of the applause meter, listened “life is like rugby, whether you sing or lose, the important thing is to respect the rules», sung by a choir of children dressed in blue-white-red.
Then, after hearing the speeches of the officials, they were offered their “cape(cap) official, symbolizing their participation in this 10th edition of the World Cup (September 8 – October 28), which they will play at home, among the favorites.
“We are fully aware of the immense challenge ahead of us“Launched to the crowd the manager of the XV of France, Raphaël Ibanez.
The Blues welcomed by their supporters
A first title to conquer
“D-day is approaching, we know that you have always dreamed of it, affirmed for her part Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. We know you’re going to do it, for the jersey, for those who are no longer there, for you and for the love of rugby.»
Before concluding, still addressed to the Rugby Blues, to conquer the first world title for France: “We want to tell you that you are the most beautiful team in the world! And above all, have fun!“.
After a Marseille intoned by players and supporters, “Go Bluesrang out as the players posed for the group photo.
“We enjoy, we watch the smiles, we talk with the children, these are super precious moments“, underlined for his part Paul Boudehent, another “novice” (23 years old, 3 sel.).
“For the moment, I’m living it very well, it’s an immense pride, we have a great group. Afterwards, I want to say, it’s up to us to live up to the expectations and the event“said the Rochelais, confiding that the group had”a huge thought for Paulo“, the second-line Paul Willemse, replaced in the group Friday by Bastien Chalureau after an injury.
“The strength of this group is that after a ceremonial day like this, we will get back into competition mode, concluded Raphaël Ibanez. It’s one of our qualities, being able to switch and transform, we hope, into a war machine, when the match comes.“.
After New Zealand on Friday at the Stade de France, the Blues will face Uruguay, Namibia and then Italy in the group stage.