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Resurgent Toulouse leading the French rugby renaissance | Robert Kitson

A group of young talents offer the potential for France to re-establish their elite status in time for this year’s World Cup

To say French rugby is overdue a renaissance is easier than predicting precisely when it will occur. Last time out in November the national team were beaten at home by Fiji; it is now almost nine years since Les Bleus won a Six Nations title. Since the 2015 Rugby World Cup they have managed only 10 victories in 32 Tests, mostly against lower-ranked opposition, and won away from home twice.

Aside from the exceptional galactico-stuffed Toulon squad between 2013-15, only one other Top 14 side has secured the European Cup in more than two decades. That club is Toulouse, who have lifted it a record four times in their distinguished history. It used to be said that if rugby in the north of England was strong the national team would follow suit. The French barometer is Stade Toulousain which, given they are currently unbeaten in Pool One in Europe, suggests the Gallic mercury may just be rising again.

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