France look for fresh start as new coaches gear up for Six Nations battle

3 min

London (AFP)

France already have one eye on the next World Cup as they prepare to open their Six Nations campaign against England, coach Fabien Galthie said on Wednesday.

The 2023 hosts, who have won the past two Under-20 global titles, were arguably one red card away from reaching the semi-finals of last year's World Cup in Japan before Sebastien Vahaamahina's moment of madness cost them dear against Wales.

Galthie is one of four new head coaches among Europe's leading nations who have taken over since the World Cup.

The former France scrum-half, whose team take on World Cup runners-up England in Paris on February 2, has selected 19 uncapped players in his 42-man squad.

"We have a two-fold vision. We have a four-year vision and we have a shorter-term vision," Galthie said at the Six Nations launch in London.

France's backroom staff now includes former Wales defence chief Shaun Edwards. New skipper Charles Ollivon said: "Shaun has brains and personality, he has a lot of energy and experience."

- 'Wayne's world' -

Reigning Grand Slam champions Wales also have a new coach in Wayne Pivac, although the New Zealander joins after several years in charge of Welsh regional side Scarlets.

Pivac succeeds Warren Gatland, whose 12 years in charge ended at a World Cup where Wales suffered a semi-final loss to eventual champions South Africa.

"It’s getting a lot closer, isn't it?," said Pivac. "We've done a lot of planning behind the scenes looking ahead to 2023."

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones said: "There has been a lot of change and, to a point, we have to cut ties with that.

"It is Wayne's world now and I am looking forward to what is to come."

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend is looking to rally his side after defeats by Ireland and Japan condemned them to a first-round exit at the World Cup.

Away form in the Six Nations remains an enduring problem for Scotland and they start this season's edition against Ireland in Dublin, where they last won in 2010.

"Ireland have lost one (home) game in the championship in the last five years, so that just shows how difficult it is for any team to win away from home," said Townsend.

"We've got to be better, we know that, that's a key focus for us, starting with an away game this year," added Townsend, who oversaw Scotland's thrilling 38-38 draw away to England at Twickenham last season.

Italy, who have not won a Six Nations match since 2015, open the tournament away to Wales in Cardiff on February 1. New coach Franco Smith admitted: "I don't think it is ever easy to play them at the Millennium Stadium."