Ian McGeechan praises the crucial figure behind France’s revival

Ian McGeechan France

Ian McGeechan has praised Shaun Edwards, saying that it is “impossible to overstate” the impact the defence coach has had on France.

Edwards joined France’s coaching team back in 2020, a year in which Les Bleus improved significantly, as they started off the year with a win against Rugby World Cup finalists England in the Six Nations.

France ultimately fell short in the Six Nations that year, and did again in 2021, but they are expected by many to win this year’s championship after their thrilling victory against the All Blacks in the Autumn Nations Series.

Former Scotland head coach McGeechan was writing in his column for The Telegraph and highlighted the importance of Edwards to France’s improvement over the last couple of years.

Ian McGeechan on Shaun Edward’s impact on France.

“Previous France teams might have crumbled, but this time [against the All Blacks] they kept their heads, stayed in the game, regrouped and regathered. Psychologically, for a young group of players, that was very important,” says McGeechan.

“You could feel the hand of Shaun Edwards in that recovery. It is impossible to overstate what an impact he has had on France.

“Shaun is just what France needed, and team manager Raphael Ibanez knew it. He is one of the most intelligent coaches you will meet but it is his emotional intelligence as much as his tactical intelligence that is so important. That and his character.

“When you watch Galthie speak about him there is always a little smile on his face. Shaun has this infectious enthusiasm which rubs off on everyone.”

Les Bleus are aiming to end Six Nations drought.

France were the most successful side in Europe at the start of the Six Nations era, as Les Bleus won the championship five times in nine years from 2002 to 2010, but it is now 12 years since they were last crowned as European champions.

McGeechan has backed France to end their Six Nations drought this year, although there is certainly no shortage of competition, as Ireland and England both came through the Autumn Nations Series unbeaten, while Scotland and Wales also impressed at times.

The French have arguably the kindest fixture list of the teams involved, as they play Ireland, England and Italy at home, but this year’s Six Nations does look particularly difficult to predict.

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