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Betsen: ‘Phenomenal’ Edwards key to France success

Betsen: ‘Phenomenal’ Edwards key to France success

Betsen: ‘Phenomenal’ Edwards key to France success

Defence coach Shaun Edwards has been pivotal to France’s resurgence, according to former flanker Serge Betsen, who believes the Englishman can now help Les Bleus to even greater heights.

A cornerstone of Wales’s trophy-laden years under Warren Gatland, Edwards joined France’s coaching staff following the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Working for Fabien Galthie, the 54-year-old sparked a change in mentality in Les Bleus as their swashbuckling attacking play that lit up the 2020 Six Nations was allied with a steely resolve in defence.

The result was their best performance in a Six Nations since last winning the title in 2010, as they only missed out on the trophy to England by points difference.

Les Bleus now head into the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup with genuine title aspirations, as they face Fiji, Scotland and Italy in Group B.

And Betsen – who made 63 appearances for France between 1997 and 2007, as well as playing under Edwards at club level – has hailed the impact of the defensive guru.

“I really, really adore Shaun Edwards,” Betsen told PA News Agency. “He was my coach at Wasps, he’s phenomenal; his mentality to defend is so important.

“When you get coached by Shaun Edwards, defence starts to become your attack. And that mindset is so important. I’m pleased that he’s part of the staff.

“He doesn’t really have any ego. He has the pride of himself and what he wants from players.

“But he’s someone who definitely can say ‘sorry, it’s my fault, and I’m going to correct that’, and then he will already have taken that on the chin, any errors. That makes his management also very positive.”

Edwards was a rugby league star during his playing days, forming part of a dominant Wigan Warriors team and representing Great Britain on 36 occasions.

He boasts 50 winners’ medals as a player and coach, with Betsen explaining that his coaching style involves being very economical with words.

“He doesn’t need to talk too much,” added Betsen. “He needs some time to show you what he wants from you, two or three key points of what he wants from you. And then you have to execute it.

“He wants the players to be engaged with his message, he’s definitely a good guy, and he’s not there to talk the talk; he’s there to be effective in every single thing he wants to do, or he wants the players to do.

“I was impressed by him going to France. I was telling him about the language, about how he could get on with that. And fair play, it’s not easy to change country, culture and adapt yourself as quickly as he did.”

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