Can you write a 1,000 thought-piece on the state of France heading into the World Cup quarter-finals, they asked.
We need it by 4pm tomorrow, they said.
Ah, France. A rugby cliche-magnet, if ever there was one. A gravity well for lazy pundit soundbites to fall into. Turn on any live match involving Les Bleus and it’s only a matter of drinking-game time before a former player — to much sage round-table nodding — will come out with that fateful phrase, “you never know which France will turn up”.