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Six Nations: Six of the Best - France v England

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Bryn Palmer | 23:23 UK time, Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Welcome to week four of Six of the Best, the chance to reacquaint yourself with some of the most memorable matches associated with a particular Six Nations fixture.

This week it is "Le Crunch", that well-worn label for an encounter that often provided a decisive pointer to the destination of the title in the 1990s and early 2000s.

France also completed their two most recent Grand Slams (2004 and 2010) against England, but having been held to a draw by Ireland, the Tricolores will have to summon motivation from elsewhere this weekend.

A quick trawl through some of these moments might provide it, and also encourage England in their quest for a third win in eight attempts in Paris during the Six Nations era.

Check out the montage here, and as always, do share your own memories of these matches and thoughts on the latest instalment which will unfold on Sunday.

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1980 - France 13-17 England

Having started their campaign with a convincing home win over Ireland, England - with a 24-year-old Clive Woodward starting his first Test - took the second step towards their first Grand Slam for 23 years with victory in Paris.

They got off to a bad start when legendary French flanker Jean-Pierre Rives scored a try a couple of minutes into the game, but England responded when Woodward created a try for centre partner Nick Preston and wing John Carleton's first try for his country put the visitors ahead.

John Horton landed two drop-goals either side of half-time but with five minutes left, England lost a scrum against the head on their own line, allowing France to score a try which ensured a nervous finale. But the visitors clung on at a frenzied Parc des Princes.

1991 - England 21-19 France

England, with Rory Underwood scoring their only try, completed their first Grand Slam for 11 years in a thrilling game, best remembered for "one of the most sensational tries Twickenham has ever seen" (in the words of BBC commentator Nigel Starmer-Smith).

The details will be familiar to those who never tire of seeing one of the great tries...a French move started on their own try-line by the great Serge Blanco, continued by the celebrated Philippe Sella and Didier Camberabero's delicately judged cross-kick from the right touchline, that Philippe Saint-Andre - now the French coach - scooped up to score under the posts. But it was England who triumphed to spark wild celebrations at HQ.

1997 - England 20-23 France

With both countries having won their opening two matches, this encounter effectively decided the Championship.

A barnstorming try from Lawrence Dallaglio put England in command, but French fly-half Christophe Lamaison masterminded a comeback, scoring a try, two conversions, two penalties and a drop-goal for a 'full house'.

Wing Laurent Leflamand nipped ahead of Tony Underwood to claim a bouncing ball and score the other try as France secured their first win at Twickenham for a decade and went on to complete the first of two successive Grand Slams.

2001 - England 48-19 France

England had already scored 22 tries in sweeping aside Wales (44-15), Italy (80-23) and Scotland (43-3). They racked up six more in another Twickenham spectacular that became known as "The Balshaw Ballet", after full-back Iain Balshaw terrorised the French defence with his silky running from deep.

England didn't have it all their own way, despite taking an early 10-0 lead after a Will Greenwood try. The French hit back to lead 16-13 at half-time, Philippe Bernat-Salles - that greyhound of a wing - finishing off one marvellous move.

But Richard Hill's try in the right corner early on the resumption regained the initiative and set the tone for a rampant second half, with four more tries following, from Balshaw himself, Phil Greening, Mike Catt - after Austin Healey's cheeky chip over the defence - and Matt Perry. One of the highs of the Woodward era.

2004 - France 24-21 England

France held off a late England fightback in Paris to clinch their fourth Grand Slam in eight years, a victory orchestrated by two thorns in English flesh - Dimitri Yachvili and Imanol Harinordoquy.

The duo combined beautifully - Yachvili's pin-point cross-kick allowing the Basque number eight to back up his pre-match anti-English rhetoric with an easy touchdown - before Yachvili scored a second try, his three penalties helping the hosts to a commanding 21-3 interval lead.

England, in their first campaign since becoming world champions, showed some pride and poise to fight back with tries from Ben Cohen and Josh Lewsey - the second with five minutes left to set up an exciting finish - but the French prevailed.

2009 - England 34-10 France

One of England's best performances in the Championship under Martin Johnson, although France barely turned up for the opening 40 minutes.

The rout started with just a minute on the clock when Riki Flutey sent Mark Cueto streaking away for the first try, before Cueto returned the favour, sending Flutey over for the second after a well-worked move from a line-out.

Two more tries - from Delon Armitage and Joe Worsley - followed before half-time, which saw England leading 29-0.

The best try arrived barely a minute into the second half, Armitage striding away from deep in his own half before feeding Flutey on his inside. With the game up, France rallied to score two tries, but it was a humiliating defeat.


  • Comment number 1.

    Can't wait ;-)

  • Comment number 2.

    Le Crunch..Crucial moment in French. Doesn't it sound like English too ? See history of the English language ;-)
    Since WWII,
    France won 35, England won 34..............Don't hesitate to correct me..
    France 9 Grand slams, England 6.
    France 25 5 or 6 Nations, England 16.
    Since 6 Nations (2000),
    France 3 Grand slams, England 1.
    France 5 tournaments, England 4.

    World cup,
    France 3 times finalists, England 1 world cup. I was pleased for England.
    (Personnally and without any paronoia, I had the feeling France were allowed to win the cup then when I still remember the last 15 minutes and how France outplayed NZ).
    By the way, France beat the All-blacks as many times as all the North Hemisphere nations.
    It's not that bad for such an unpredictable team!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and for me, it's quite hard to say which team of France and England is the North Hemisphere best one.

    I know didn't take into account the tournaments in which France could not play for 20 of them.

  • Comment number 3.

    But one thing I'm sure of is France, since 1977 or so, made me dream all these years and as much as I love this sports and especially this tournament.

  • Comment number 4.

    Don't count your chickens before they're hatched, Wales. We're coming soon ;-) Last ten years, France 10 wins, Wales 2. But I also know Wales played very well in the last world cup semi-final but I, personnally would have prefered to lose that way than to lose like France did in the last final, waiting for the World cup for ages and failing one point and a penalty I will have to wait for ages as well.

  • Comment number 5.

    I haven't heard or read many in Britain, except from being happy for New-Zeland, complaining about the fact France failed so close and that way..
    But that's fine, the Kiwis can keep that so relished cup. In the name of all France fans, we don't mind. Like in Rocky II, this is Les Bleus the winners !! Don't mind about those referees and their decisions.

  • Comment number 6.

    6 Nations is so nice to see. I'll remember all my life to have seen Johnny Wilkinson kicking in front of me dans Le Stade de France. As well the 2010 France Grand slam I did attend there. I love those 6 nations, actually for years. Sorry for my pauvre English ;-( which needs to be improved a lot.

  • Comment number 7.

    I nearly forgot. Allez la France, Allez la France !!
    And, by the way, Jeremy, is this that hard to admit NZ got a narrow escape against France instead of writting and as usual only ' You know. We've got to admit New Zeland was these last ten years'
    England were trashed by Australia few years before to become world champs, even if there were many English players in that team. I mean, just like France were as well a year and a half ago. I guess our rugby players aren't robots and that's better. Where were those 20 points of difference in the final score you predicted ?

  • Comment number 8.

    My prediction about this match, which is not easy to do, France 15 England 9. I hope that will be a good match. Many of the English side are young but there is a lot of talent. I really haven't found Wales better. On the opposite, the English defence seemed quite solid to me. It won't be easy for France. I think France are more clinical this year, quite a powerful side. They're quite slow to the start but once they're in the back into the game, quite hard to stop. For me, France and England defence are rather equally levelled. It will be a tight match. Fofana played very well but I was impressed by Farrell as well. That's for sure, it will be a very interesting match to see or to attend.
    Come on Ireland, I like this team very much and which is able to play such a beautiful game.

  • Comment number 9.

    When I read Jeremy, it's always the same..Always critisizing the French and as usual.
    Now, it's linked to their new coach if they drew with Ireland or didn't play very well so far. I can't see the point. Just ask the players what they would think about it. To find the alchemy is not that easy and especially to play very well three or four matches in a row. No chance he would have said, although I know France didn't succeed to play well the first thirty minutes for its three last matches, France came back into the game and win or nearly won and that proves once they're back in it, they're hard to stop.
    Just read what you needed to read as a reply to your question.
    France are quite lucky not to have changed of changing rooms, that might explained Ireland drew with France.

  • Comment number 10.

    Honestly, phillipesella: "England were trashed by Australia few years before to become world champs" - I know you have some strong drinks in France but yours has some dubious mushrooms in it! The only thing that ws trashed that day was the repuation of a referee who did everything to try and make the Aussie win (and maybe the also the Aussie repulation for good sportmanship with calls to make noise outside England's hotel thru the night....). Get a tape of the game, wtach it gin and then make a sensible comment!

  • Comment number 11.

    sid69 wrote :
    I watched that match and I agree with you. I don't need any mushrooms in my drink. I just meant the score didn't or could not reflect what would happen after.
    France were thrashed a year and a half, once they play well and that's for sure, they can play very well. That's it and just like England could at the time.

  • Comment number 12.

    Wales won already, no need they don't have to play against France no more. Rubbish.
    England can win in France, no need to be either a scientist or an expert to say so.
    France could have won last year in London the same way. I mean it would not have been a big surprise the way they played.
    Ahh those experts ! I really don't consider myself as one.
    sid69, a heavy defeat is still a stain though whatever trophy you won after or before, and whatever team you had at the time, young or experienced. Friendly is just a word.

  • Comment number 13.

    fascinating to read things from a french supporters angle phillipe. Yes you're right france do have an excellent record in the championship since they were readmitted in 1947. But in that period wales actually has the best record against england of anyone 36 victories to 30 in all games played overall......and 34 victories to 26 in the 5 and 6 nations. Wales has also won more 5 and 6 nations titles in that period than england...21 to 16 to england. Wales also has won more grand slams in the 6 nations since it was created in 2000....two to england's one. Hopefuly we can add to our titles this season :)

    You are of course right in that we shouldnt be counting our chickens...but if england turn you over this weekend france will have nothing to play for on the 17th....and in such circumstances wales would have to be favourites! And while the england rugby team has its critics for generally playing boring and safety first rugby england do know how to beat france in paris. Also what about france dropping their established half backs? what effect will that have on france?

  • Comment number 14.

    leighrichards wrote:

    I quite agree with your comment. It won't be easy for France against England, nor Wales. Especially in Wales for the last match that could turn into a final.
    I think we all know how Wales are very good this year, like they were the year before in fact.
    I guess the French are wary about that. But what a beautiful final it would be and that's what I think. But to those who think or are convinced it's already in the pocket for Wales, I think it's quite premature to predict so.
    I just hope France will turn to play well that day. For sure, that will be a good match.

  • Comment number 15.

    Apart from how talented the Welsh are, I haven't found them that impressive. Especially against England I watched. I haven't found nor any sides in these 6 nations either. France included. The issue of the 6 nations this year is still uncertain and open. Three teams still can win the title. I would be pleased if France win in Paris to deny a Slam to Wales in their last match home like the English did wish two years ago and failed.
    I know the records Wales have in the tournament. Especially in the 70th. In the last ten years, it's quite good but France did better without to be too much biased.

  • Comment number 16.

    France v England always elicits a thrill. Ireland, Scotland and Wales are of course just small satellite countries which have been part of the English dominion for over three hundred years, whereas France is a proper foe, a country against whom we fought real battles for literally hundreds of years. Thankfully these days the fighting is confined to the European community and the sports field, but the rivalry has not diminished in the slightest.
    For those of you about to click on 'complain', please re-read the previous paragraph with tongue firmly embedded in cheek.
    Many people trot out the old cliché about France being unpredictable with the implication that they are flaky. I think that if you look more closely you will find that the main reason for the variation in French performance is that they are far more willing to take risks than we are - in such circumstances, victories tend to be glorious and defeats abject.

    P.S Why does the spell checker think the word 'humour' is misspelled. Is Auntie Beeb paying too much attention to our former colony on the western shores of the Atlantic ?

  • Comment number 17.

    To Jeremy who always critisize the French in saying they are unpredictable again and again, and although I know these are only stats, France just won HALF of all tournaments for the last 10 years, plus 3 Grand slams. Can you hear me ?? ;-)
    I would be pleased to win only a tournament. Everyboby knows it's hard to achieve, anyway whatever nation you support.

  • Comment number 18.

    Salut, Monsieur Sella. Like you, I have seen lots of good players this year, but no really good teams. Modern defences are so strong that it is difficult for any team to tear them apart, more's the pity.
    I sympathise greatly with what happened to France in RWC2011. Was it a coincidence that the (NZ) head of referees chose for the final a referee who showed the greatest sympathy for the illegal NZ habit of getting on the wrong side of every ruck and maul ?

  • Comment number 19.

    I think England will be pleased to see the French half back combination but let's be clear - France are strong favourites and could easily have won last Sunday without playing well. As for England, for the first time that I can remember, I seriously worried that England could finish bottom of the 6N this year and but for a bit of luck could have played three and won none. Look at the England pack - I don't think any of them would make it into the Lions and I certainly wouldn't pick any of them if they were available to play for France! Am I wrong? I don't think any other nation (including Italy would take a look at England's front 5 and say I wish X or Y was in my Team. having said that, England do seem to be more than the sum of their parts under Lancaster and do know how to beat France (unlike Ireland who always struggle). I think removing some of the old school elements from the dressing room has improved England's chances long term without necessariliy improving the standard of the players.

  • Comment number 20.

    I have nothing against the English. They are our main rivals, that's for sure in this tournament.
    But to have followed Ireland, Wales, Scotland..and now Italy for years, I just love to watch (or to attend) these teams playing.
    Last year, if it was France who played Ireland in the last match against Ireland, France would have lost. I'm convinced of it the way the Irish played.
    By the way, although the English are conscious as well it's a big rivalry between them and the French and it's better of course it's on a pitch things happen. Just would like to tell them the Hundred Year's war belligerent sides at the time were all French, or Frank if you prefer ;-)
    The English language is nearly 'HALF' made of French vocabs nowadays. 5 per cent on the opposite in mine.
    Which is really the global language ? ;-)

  • Comment number 21.

    20 Phillppe

    Give it up! The French have been sulking for the best part of 200 years only have to see the repeated actions of your diminutive president to see how the obsession with les anglais still informs so much of French foreign policy.

    Anyway...that's not the point. Lewis Moody, one of the greatest servants of English rugby has just been forced to retire through injury. This is a man who played in three world cup campaigns, two World cup finals...and won one of them! A man who played with fearless courage and was an inspiration to his teammates for club and country. From the BBC his career has been treated as a footnote not even worthy of a short testimonial blog to allow people to say a few words.

    Having had to put up with the best part of a months worth of eulogies to Shane Williams when he retired (a great player who nonetheless never captained his country or played in a world cup final) it seems little short of insulting that the Beeb have chosen to be silent over Lewis. Who knows, maybe he's going to work for Sky???

    Does anyone else think that Lewis has been short-changed?

  • Comment number 22.

    21 Anglophone

    That's still less than 400 years..
    Obsession ? I would have said compassion.

  • Comment number 23.

    Just sad to see England v France reduced to a sideshow for midtable mediocrity this year!! Phillipesella what do you think of the imbalance 4 english victories to 2 btw? Seems a bit off to me.

    Not sure about this crosschannel love in. Whatever happened to the Admiral Nelson school of Englishman? You should hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil and all that?!!! Grrrrrr

  • Comment number 24.

    #21 There are many who say that one of the great strengths of the English people is that we don't make a great deal of fuss about things. I tend to agree with that line. There are also many who say that too many organisations (the Beeb included) bend over backwards to avoid upsetting small minorities e.g the Welsh. I tend to agree with that as well. Two further factors are that we tend not to revere forwards in quite the same way that we revere backs, and that in rugby terms Wales is forever the land of the false dawn (every win seems to be considered the start of a great new era of world domination, and there are still people in Wales who think that Gavin Henson is a great player based only on a) dumping Tait on his back b) kicking a penalty from near halfway). Given all these factors, I suppose that the situation you describe is inevitable.
    Mr Moody's reward will be that everywhere he goes in the rugby world he will be treated with great respect and admiration for what he did and the way he did it. I suspect and hope that will mean more to him than a purple eulogy on the Beeb website.
    And while we're on the subject, why has Jason Leonard not been elevated to the peerage ?

  • Comment number 25.

    Completely agree with Anglophone about Lewis Moody. I was expecting a testimonial blog, and I fully expect to read articles about him in the Sunday papers. Great servant of England, a fantastic player and no one gave more commitment. Legend.

  • Comment number 26.

    Add to the list of Mr Moody's qualities humility, complete lack of ego and all-round decency. Would win a Delia Smith good egg award if such things existed.

  • Comment number 27.

    Ceddars etc praise indeed that Wales should even warrant a mention in several blogs on a forum titled Anglo-French six of the best! There appears to be a very deepseated fear amongst several Englisman that a player in the red jersey will be holding the Webb Ellis trophy aloft in the heart of the lost lands come 2015! Far scarier perhaps than if it were your fellow Norman! The Sanzar unions clearly think its realistic given their objection to the use of the Millenium Stadium for 2015.

    On Lewis Moody, no doubt he was a committed player, but a legend of the game..come on. More like a realistic professional who's knows he has had a good innings, done well out of the game and perhaps recognises his limitations in the modern game when compared to the new breed i.e. The Warburtons, Tipurics, Pococks et al. This is no doubt to his credit as a person, but I'm not sure the BBC needs to produce a career eulogy for every player that announces their retirement from international rugby...

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    #27 RedGrandslam

    It was not I who called Mr Moody a legend. I chose my words carefully. Like you, I think that he will always be remembered for his commitment, enthusiasm and general decency, but I don't think his playing skills will ever be talked about in hushed tones.

    I have no fear that a man wearing a red jersey will ever hold the Webb Ellis trophy aloft, 'cos it just ain't going to happen. When has Wales ever been in the top 3 of the rankings ? When have they ever regularly beaten Southern Hemisphere nations ? Both are surely pre-requisites to being realistic contenders. I don't think the Sanzars think it is a realistic possibility, but I do note that they all use any and every means available to tilt the odds in their favour. Perhaps the NH nations should stop squabbling amongst themselves and get together to reduce the political (in rugby terms) influence of the Sanzars. It would be the most unlikely of alliances, but it might be rather good fun to given them some of their own medicine. What say you ?

  • Comment number 30.

    Queensland, Australia calling here but I think that France, despite their ordinary performances in previous rounds and New Zealand's excellent performances in the tournament, deserved to beat the Kiwis in the final.

    As for Le Crunch, I have read some utter drivel from some quarters (especially O'Connor) about Lancaster's omission of Flood and Youngs. Burt opted for continuity as Charlie had acquitted himself adequately in the previous matches and Youngs has played like an imbecile in his last few outings nationally. Personally, I'd drop Ashton and find a place for one of the in-form English wingers. I'm not convinced about Strettle either at the moment (despite lack of ball for both wingers) and would love to see others given a chance to impress.

  • Comment number 31.

    hey ceddars mate look at the historical record between wales and england. while you guys lead us by one victory in overall matches played......56 wins to 55...if we exclude the 4 meaningless warm up friendlies played between the sides before world actually leads england in overlall victories by 55 wins to 53......not bad for a dominion eh.......also i think you're mistaken about the 'false dawn' charge about wales. In the modern proffessional game where there is really so little between the sides in the 6 nations it isnt unusual for a side to win the title one year...but to finish mid table the happened to wales after 2005 and 2008 and has happened to ireland and france after they have won grand slams.....afraid i cant remember when england last won a slam........but i think phillipe calls it right when he says how the outcome of the title this year could have been very different ie ireland or england could quite easily be chasing the grand slam instead of wales....scotland even could quite easily have two wins under their belts! As in truth theres not that much between the teams in this years championship...though italy do appear to have fallen behind.....i think we are still in a position to take the title because we seem to have that extra bit of quality in key positions.....and we are rightly reaping the rewards for the attacking style of rugby we play. Yes weve had a measure of good fortue this year...which every succesful team needs......good fortune of course which deserted us in last year's semi against phillipe's team.

    nust say im rally looking forward to the france engalnd wil show us if england'ss revival under lancaster is real or just another 'false dawn' for england....and it could have a big influence on how france approach the game in cardiff on march an england win and france will have nothing to play for....

  • Comment number 32.

    The only chance England have of beating France is to try and slow the game down and drag it to the dull and lifeless style they did during their worst days under MJ.
    England right now are in the same position as Scotland...they cannot score trys. Actually even Scotland have scored more trys then England and England have played the 2 worst teams in the championship in their 3 games played.

    3 games and 2 charge down trys to France who have scored 7 and Ireland who have scored 9. England are playing a defensive game to try not to lose by too much but not a winning game. France will probably only win 1 score but I expect the game to be as dull as the Welsh game.

  • Comment number 33.

    @ 32: Drivel.

    Did you watch the fortunate Wales win v England recently? I don't recall England trying to slow the game down v Wales, quite the contrary in fact.

    Time to take of those blinkers, as the Welsh were equally as culpable for the tone of the game.

  • Comment number 34.

    Really looking forward to this one, always my 2nd favourite match after Scotland, and think we can nick it. Hopefully if the improvement carries on and Tuilagi continues to make some headway. Frane looked disinterested against the Irish for much of the game so if they don't turn up against us for another 40 minutes it could be a very good Saturday.

  • Comment number 35.


    I think it's you who maybe needs to take his blinkers off if your describe the Welsh victory as 'fortunate' against England.

    The game was finely balanced with both defences on top and each teams kicker only missing the one shot at goal. However, there were four genuine try scoring opportunities (not including the try which was opportunist):

    1. Strettle ankle tap on North
    2. Warburton taking Tuilagi down
    3. Williams BUTCHERING a two man overlap on 65 minutes (just as bad as Rennie's butcher in the first game v England)
    4. Strettle try that was inconclusive - it would have been given before the days of video replays but there was no conclusive evidence to prove that he grounded the ball behind the line.

    Therefore that is two chances each. Yes, England can complain about not going back for another penalty after the replay, but Wales could complain about Walsh giving a 5 minute gain as advantage from a perfectly kickable position on the hour; or blowing for a penalty (that was missed) when the Welsh scrum was well on it's way for a pushover try on about 10 minutes.

    Thats the thing, it was fine margins in which either team COULD have won, but to describe it as 'fortunate' is rather ignorant and I suspect you haven't seen the game since to properly analyse it without having your judgement clouded by the adrenalin of watching it live.

  • Comment number 36.

    Sport is often a case of fine margins. But for some generous refereeing decisions this weekend would see Wales nervously preparing for a potential wooden spoon avoiding match against the Italians. Instead they are the far and away the best team ever to surface from these islands and would fill every Lion spot apart from the one set aside for the token Scot.
    On the actual match in hand France on paper still look very strong. People may argue that very few of the England team would get into the French XV but to be honest I’m not sure how many Irish or Welsh would either. France also now have a much more pragmatic coach who is less likely to pick a team for its comedy effect rather than a coherent plan. That said I have a sneaky feeling that England may do okay.
    I would prefer to see Tom Wood at 7. I would also have preferred to see the dopey plum from Quins at 9 but he seems hell bent on writing himself out of the England picture. I also hope that Flood retains 20 Shirt with Farrell at 10.

    Btw Thrashball the France were uninterested against the Irish not disinterested. Apologies for the pedantry; I’ll try not to do it again.

  • Comment number 37.

    @ 35: I have indeed seen the game, or most of it, again. I feel that England were good value for the draw, and given the pre match hyperbole about the Welsh 'smashing' the English, we proved many people wrong, and possibly that the Welsh aren't quite as great as everyone thinks they are.

  • Comment number 38.

    wow :-) that put @HMMurdoch in his place.

  • Comment number 39.

    #24 Blah blah blah...... However I do agree with your point about Jason Leonard and the peerage

  • Comment number 40.

    Fair enough Steak and Ale. Maybe I am using a b*st*rdised word but my dictionary says that there is a second definition meaning not interested! I'm willing to go with they were rubbish in the 1st half and I will in future say uninterested!

  • Comment number 41.


    I agree with you to an extent, but alot of the hyperbole came from Englishmen who I believe did it to help motivate their own team.

    Jonathan Davies said on the Scrum V programme "we COULD smash them physically in the BACKS2 which brough next day headlines of "Davies says Wales WILL smash England".

    Dawson, to paraphrase, said something like "I've heard a Welsh player say we aren't going to Twickenham to win, but to humiliate". Where is this quote? Whick player said that?

    From a personal POV, I didn't think Wales would have the midfield dominance because of the defensive strengths of Farrell, Barritt and Tuilagi and I was proven right; and I would suggest that Lancaster beat Gatland tactically in the game, but we weren't helped by Priestland having a shocker which clearly stopped us gaining momentum (two missed penalties to touch for example).

    It was always going to be a tough game (it ALWAYS is in Twickenham) and the pressure was all on Wales to suceed against a team with home advantage, nothing to lose and a serious motivation to prove everyone wrong.

    I think the true test for the england team will be against Ireland in a weeks time. They aren't expected again to win this weekend, but that expectation will be huge at home against Ireland based on their strong performace versus Wales, and ironically, elements of the English press and fans getting carried away with how they did.

    Good luck to them on Sunday though, I think they'll give a much better game to the French than whats expected.

  • Comment number 42.

    Almost 4 years after my hope that Jake White will be heading up England and it looks like my wish is on the verge of finally being fulfilled! Very excited about the future of English Rugby with him at the helm. Although thats not to take anything away from Stuart Lancaster, who has done a brilliant job so far. Allez Angleterre!

  • Comment number 43.

    Oh dear, cant we just forget about the Engand v Wales result? That was so 2 weeks ago!!

    Wales won, England lost that really is it, just concentrate on this week end, i think more than any this week end should see where all teams really are!

    Phillipesella, nice balanced posting. The hysterical posting after the wales v england game (me included) this makes a refreshing change.

  • Comment number 44.

    @ 41: I try to ignore what is said in the press to a great extent, but you simply can't avoid it these days.

    I know the players themselves were not talking up the game, but some of the fans were whipping up a storm on here about record wins. TBH I did not expect us to win, but I am proud of the performance, given the Welsh are a settled side and we were 2 games into a new era.

    Looking at Sunday's game, I always feel like we have a chance v France. As has been mentioned before they can be Jekyll and Hyde, and during the Wales game, I think the backs started to click, so we could be in for a decent show. We need to get the wingers running better support lines, and remember to draw the tackler before releasing the pass.

    I just hope we don't suffer the curse of the replacements again, with most of them responsible for either soft penalties of turnovers in the latter stages.

  • Comment number 45.

    Is it me, or is it that the posting service on here is garbage?

  • Comment number 46.

    Had to wait 30 odd comments for the tedium to end...

    @35: Absolutely agree. A very even game, which the loser was always going to walk away from feeling it could have been very different had this that or the other gone differently. The game itself was far from dull, the scoreline was mainly down to two exceptional defences.

    Getting on to the France game, I read somewhere that Hodgson may well be recalled to the starting 15. I assume that all other English fans will be equally horrified at the prospect of dropping either our most dangerous attacking threat, one of the best defensive 12s around, or a 10 who looks like he may have more to his game than exceptional kicking and defensive play.

    As for our 'friends' across the channel, Fofana looks genuinely exciting, Dupuy is not to be underestimated, and Mas is (in my opinion) a better scrummager than A. Jones, so I rather fear for Corbs at scrum time. Other than that it's merely a case of Dusatoir vs Robshaw. I've been fairly quick to stick the boot into Captain Chris for his play as an out and out 7, and come the summer expect Wood/Clark/Saull to have a go, but it is worth reading a blog by a former Gloucester coach on another sports website regarding the some of the reasons for Robshaw's failings in that department.

    Here's hoping for a cracking game, an English win, and a hearty debate on the merits of the two teams.

  • Comment number 47.

    I love how these blogs quickly turn into a Anglo-welsh spat!! Come on lads have some respect for Phillipesealla and your number 1 rugby foe the French (Pull the other one!!)...On Moody great bloke, good player blah, blah, but I think there are only a handful of players that deserve the eulogy. The acid test comes when a 10 minute career greatest moments dvd is produced! I'm not sure 10 minutes of honest grunt from LM, compares to the magic Shane produced. Henson could have perhaps been one of those players, but turned it up for celebrity. It should only be reserved for extremely special players IMO e.g. The BODs, Johnny Wilkinson, Campos etc. Even PhillipeSealla! That said John Beattie did one for Dan Parks the other day so hey ho!!

    Ceddars_B well I think they just might, but what I really hope for in 2015 in 6 or 7 teams in with a real shot at the titlwe and at least 3 of those coming from north of the equator and I am hopeful the game is moving in that direction.

  • Comment number 48.

    No 2. philippesella, just a quick one, why do you only go back to 1947, surely the totals should include 1910 - 31, believe France took part in the 1910 - 1931 Five nations. Is it because the grand slam totals would then swing into England's and Wales favour. England 12 Wales 10 and France 9. As for World Cup Finals ~ France 3, nil wins. England 3, 1 World cup.

  • Comment number 49.

    @Sid69: I don't think there was any need to insult philippesella earlier on, he has been making reasonable and fair comments, as an England rugby fan it is refreshing to see a rival fan show grace and respect to the England team, it is very rare to find these days! Also he is right England were heavily beaten by Australia a few years before we won the World Cup; admititley with a young team, all he was trying to say is that teams are very capable of overcoming early obstacles.

    Also your comment saying that England won't get many players in the Lions team is ridiculous! Chris Robshaw is growing with every game and does a HUGE ammount of defensive work; for me he would even be a contender for Lions captain with Sam Warburton, Gethin Jenkins and Paul O'Connell. Tom Wood is also a class player and it is a shame he is injured as he could have made a big impression in this years Six Nations. Ben Morgan is another in the back row that is making an impact. Elsewhere in the forwards Lawes and Hartley are always going to be contenders for the Lions. In the backs Owen Farrel and Manu Tuilagi are two in form players that should make the plane if their form continues. I also predict that some of Englands impressive young players will emerge in the next couple of years and make a last minute bid to be on the plane. It is very ignorant to think that next years Lions will be made up purely of Welsh and Irish players.

    I cannot wait for the England France game, I think each side will produce their best form. As for the England Wales game I think a draw would have been a fair result, both teams had a great defense and England showed a lot of heart which is very promising! Also I predict that France will beat Wales, I think this will be a very open Six Nations!

  • Comment number 50.

    #49 "Chris Robshaw is growing with every game and does a HUGE ammount of defensive work; for me he would even be a contender for Lions captain"

    Thats a joke right? To put Robshaws name in the same sentence as Sam Warburton, Gethin Jenkins and Paul O'Connell is an insult to these be honest Sam Warburton has a long way to go to reach the heights of OConnell but the way he is going he will surely get there and would be a great Lions Captain!

  • Comment number 51.


    The Eng v Wales game was boring?
    England played a defensive game?
    Did you actually watch the game?

    I presume you are a Wales fan who feels your team are light years ahead of England?

    Dont forget Wales have a habit of losing against so called lesser oposition. Italy could = banana skin.

    As for England v France, absolutely anything could happen, France could implode as they have done in the past or run riot as again they have in the past....... who knows. But one thing is for certain, there is not a great deal of difference between any of the home nation sides. Super amazing, the best ever, unbeatable world champions Wales included.

  • Comment number 52.

    Do the Welsh have an attention seeking disorder? they've literally invaded this blog (just like the Fatherland).

  • Comment number 53.

    What is the Welsh obsession with the Lions, give it a rest the tour is over a year away!

  • Comment number 54.

    @50: No joke. Try watching him play week in week out for Harlequins at times he carries the side and never gives up the cause. It's not an insult I'm pretty confident Robshaw will be on that Lions plane (injuries permitting). jamesmathew I am guessing that you are Irish or Welsh, just based on the arrogance that you think your players are so much better, when actually there isn't much of a difference

  • Comment number 55.

    Looks like Bert wont be getting the job as which is a shame. He has done a lot to restore some pride in the shirt.

    However, the mark of this team will be the games against Ireland and France. Two loses is simply not acceptable and is pretty much a catastrophe.

    Lets see if we have the guile to win and score the chances. Playing a largely defensive game based on big hits is not enough to disturb the world best teams. Only remain competitive

  • Comment number 56.


    Wales are the best Union team in the world at present, please do not forget this. Actually, sorry I meant best team that has existed in the history of union.

    My mistake. Apologies Wales fans

  • Comment number 57.

    Why is it that if someone gives an opinion that doesn't favour or compliment England that all of a sudden your arrogant and you get attacked.

    All I said was that Robshaw is no where near the player of Warburton or OConnell...he has only 5 internation cap and hasn't impressed anyone so far...but im not saying he wont be a great player...he might be but I think he is captain of England purely because there was no one else...not because of his talent or leadership.

    Come next WC I have no doubt England will be contenders but right now they are developing a team and that takes time.

    Dont be so sensitive can bash the Welsh or Irish teams all you like and if its not biased attacks and based on facts then I will agree.

  • Comment number 58.


    no matter how well an English player was playing you would still find faults in him, as i do with your 'amazingly gifted, divine' players. It's what rival fans do.

  • Comment number 59.

    firstly james, stop hiding your identity and explain to muppets like smackhead that you are irish,your not clever or funny enough to be welsh.
    @ super glad to see you changed your name but it wont be long before snodders is gone just like howsen (rats sinking ship)
    smackhead 56 glad to see you finaly admit it

  • Comment number 60.

    @54: There's no doubting that Robshaw is a good player, but he is far from certain to start for England when Wood is fit, so to suggest that he could be Lions captain in the most competitive position on tour is absurd. They will only take 6 or 7 back rowers on tour. Look at this years 6N:

    Scotland have played 3 times. and in two of those Rennie and Denton have been man of the match.

    Warburton and Lydiate have been given man of the match in two of Wales' three games.

    The ireland three of Heaslip, O'Brian and Ferris are all shoe ins.

    England themselves have Croft, Wood and Morgan who could all be in contention; not to mention Faletau, Barclay, Kelly Brown and Ryan Jones from Wales and Scotland.

    If the Lions were leaving this summer then I'd have the Ireland 3, Warburton, Rennie (genuine 7), and Denton. If they were to take a 7th, then it may be Ryan Jones because he covers 4, 5, 6 and 8.

  • Comment number 61.

    #57 I respect your opinion, but I think it comes across as very arrogant, the Welsh and Irish seem to put players like Warburton and O'Connell on pedastalls. O'Connel hasn't been at his best for about 2 years (granted he played well against France). I think Warburton is a fantastic player and my rating for him against England would have been a 9 but I would have given Robshaw an 8 (not far behind in an unatural position). But to be honest, based on club form, IMO I think Robshaw has been better. As for saying he hasn't impressed so far...I don't know what England games you have been watching, his defensive work is immense and he works harder than any other player.

  • Comment number 62.


    That's not very nice is it. "Clever or funny enough to be Welsh". Really don't need to comment any further on that one do I brains.

  • Comment number 63.

    I never said I was mother is Welsh but I'm Irish and my wife is English so I have a fondness towards all 3 teams albeit Ireland & Wales would be my top 2.
    But all that is irrelevant and a lot of people on this blog agree with me when I said that to say Robshaw could be Lions captain is a joke...only someone who is unbelievably biased could say that...there are at least 5 guys that would get Lions captaincy before him. Lets not be so sensitive...its a fact...and if you know anything about Rugby you know its a fact but your just too blinded with the "everyone hates the English so I must defend everything said about us" mist.

  • Comment number 64.

    #60 If I was to pick a Lion's captain now I would pick Warburton, what I said was that Robshaw, given a year to grow with the England captaincy, could emerge as a late contender. However even at present I would pick him for the Lions as he can play all 3 back row positions and you need players with his attitude in the camp.

  • Comment number 65.


    agreed on Robshaw front, he is no where near as good as the top international players. yes he has a solid engine, but that's it to me. He's a good leader, but he lacks pace and that cutting edge needed at international rugby.

  • Comment number 66.

    Anyway back to this year's 6 nations. I am looking forward to this weekend 10/11 Feb 12. Another weekend of rugby, with two matches that could go either way. Wales should win, but you never know. Does anybody know, if they name a man of the tournament at the end.

  • Comment number 67.

    i'm not here to be nice
    if i want to have a pop at james for not saying he isn't welsh when he 's clearly looking to wind up the english whats it got to do with you.
    brains eh, nice one

  • Comment number 68.


    Erm bringing me into it on an earlier post kinda gives me the impression you involving me!!?? And er did you not insult me in that post too ?

  • Comment number 69.


    i never said you said you were welsh, you just don't deny it when winding up the english, i agree on robshaw. and i'm no englander

  • Comment number 70.

    Surely a bit ridiculous these comparisons between Robshaw and O'Connell? Warburton, by the way, is pretty much world class as a 7 and is developing as a leader. In fact, that tackle aside, he has been faultless so far in that department. However, he is not in the same league as POC or BOD as a leader, simply because of the vast chasm between them in terms of experience. Robshaw and POC are even further apart. The fact is that how one plays at club level is not necessarily an indicator of international class and longevity. Borthwick is a fantastic leader and line-out man in the Premiership, but that didn't translate to being a top level lock. Robshaw is pretty much top of the pile in the Premiership but so far is not looking like a potential world class 7. His work rate is incredible, but he has neither the speed to get to the breakdown or the linking play to offer an alternative to Pocock/McCaw/Warburton.

    If England are to challenge in 2015 it will be down to getting the youngsters through and integrated. They are there: you only have to watch the under 20s play to realise we have a bunch coming through (and some already through) who can play fantastic running rugby, dominate physically and have a great winning mentality. I am desperately hoping that whoever is appointed does what Wales have done: pick on potential to be world class and give them a run in the team.

    @57 is right. We are a developing team. The greatest curse on progress is to purely focus on getting the next result. If England can swallow their pride for twelve months and take a few losses to our neighbours then we will reap the long term rewards.

  • Comment number 71.

    @CHAP1....go back to the football blogs...its more your thing.

  • Comment number 72.

    @66: I think there is an online vote.

    There was controversy around this last season or the season before when Irish fans flooded the votes for Tommy Bowe, when it should have been someone else like Harinordquay.

  • Comment number 73.

    72. Thanks for info.

  • Comment number 74.

    #70 I respectfully disagree, I don't think the gap is as wide as people are making out. To me Robshaw is best operated as a 6, he can do well at 7/8 but in the long term he must play 6. I really hope England start to use him as a 6 as that is where he impresses the most. IMO work rate is everything for a 6, look at Richard Hill, not the fastest nor the biggest yet it was his work rate that made him one of the best flankers of all time. I would rather have Robshaw and his work rate than Croft and his speed. For me a flanker should be judged on work rate, also Robshaw has great hands and links with the backs very well (we have seen this at Quins and I would like to see it more for England). I really believe Robshaw can still be captain for the next World Cup.

    I agree that England must build for the future and I would like to see players like Jonathan Joseph, Henry Thomas, Joe Launchbury, Matt Kvesic and George Ford all intergrated into the senior side in the next year or so.

  • Comment number 75.

    @74: I respectfully ask you to re-read my post. As a 6 you may well be right. As a 7, arguably the key position in modern rugby, no way.

    I am a massive Croft fan, but England do not play in a manner to suit him, and he ends up being asked to be a key jumper in the line-out and expected to be in the back line punching holes. I would consider playing him at 4/5, let him focus on the line-out with everything else a bonus. His pace is an incredible asset, but it shouldn't limit the positions in which he can play.

    Were I to be asked to pick a team for 'the future' it would look something like:

    1 - Mullan
    2 - George
    3 - Cole
    4 - Lawes
    5 - Croft
    6 - Robshaw/Wood/Clark
    7 - Kvesic/Saull
    8 - Morgan
    9 - Youngs
    10 - Ford
    11 - May
    12 - Tuilagi
    13 - Joseph
    14 - Ashton
    15 - Foden

  • Comment number 76.

    #75 O'Connell is unlikely to be Lion's captain as he would not be guareenteed to be on the plane, I think it will be between the younger leaders with Warburton as a favourite. I thought you were writing off Robshaw off as a player but from re-reading your post you were only writing him off as a 7. I agree with that to an extent however I believe he is capable of filling a gap for now.

    As for that team you have picked, I think that is a big shout for a future england team and certainly expect many of those players to be part of a very strong squad come 2015, though I still expect Thomas to oust Cole from the starting line up.

  • Comment number 77.

    Did you watch the fortunate Wales win v England recently? I don't recall England trying to slow the game down v Wales, quite the contrary in fact.
    So that wasn't the English no 9 being told by the ref to get on with it on several occasions. Personally, I though he was waiting for a strong wind to blow the ball back to him. Short memory there sir...

  • Comment number 78.

    what are the predictions for the weekend then lads??

    Ireland by 10-15
    Wales by 10-15
    France by 20

    whatcha reckon??

  • Comment number 79.

    #77 not slowing the game down??????????????
    is this person on drugs????

    try, no try wahh wahh wahh........................flood would have missed the kick anyway!!


  • Comment number 80.

    So is anyone commenting on Anglo-French classic encounters then?! Look to round up Wales are currently the strongest team in the British Isles and are likely to be a potent force in 2015. Ireland are also strong. England are developing and i strongly will have a strong team come 2015 and hopefully Scotland will have got over their physchological hurdles by then.YOu can't win every game you play and the six nations will continue to be a contest of swings and roundabouts and would we really want it any other way.

    This weekend. You have to say France in Paris by 10, but New England could surprise as all and nick it!
    Wales you have to say by over 20, but New Wales can sometime revert to Old Wales, but seem to disciplined to allow that to happen this year!
    Scotland v Ireland. I just think the 6 day turnaround could take its toll on Ireland and the Scots could nick it by a single score.

  • Comment number 81.

    On memories of England / France encounters, in the good old days England used to be able to spend all week winding up the French so that by the time the game started there was steam coming out of their ears. Numerous incidents of classic French indiscipline later and England emerged as winners. Back then though we always had an experienced pack to back up this plan. I’m not sure that attempting this approach with a pack with 5 players with under 3 caps each would be a particularly bright idea.
    Another memory is losing by a drop goal to Thomas Castaignede. I would gladly have ripped out his offending tongue given the chance. I disliked the man for years after with a vitriolic passion only to subsequently find he was an absolutely charming fella.

  • Comment number 82.

    Well I have to admit I enjoyed reading philippesella's posts more than the payed journalist. Not that any surprises springs from his article.
    Read/listen to any british media after a France game and unless we have won by 30 points and scored a try that started from the car park, we are poor!
    Impressive to think, that for our 'unpredictability' our 'fragile mind's our 'inconsistency' an so many great compliments that british media directs at us, its impressive to think we have by far a better record against SA teams than any NH team.
    And beating NZ in NZ is so much harder than beating any of the NH teams home or away.
    As for the crunch, I admit, there is no greater pleasure for me than beating the english, especially after having lived in england for so long.
    I think we have the better team, better manager, we are at home,so looking good. Looking forward to seeing dupuis and beauxis

  • Comment number 83.

    oh yes, a question for the England you seriously think that you do not have any english coach capable of leading the national team? (this is with regards to the latest to be linked with the job; jake white)
    I cant imagine France being led by a foreign coach, football or rugby

  • Comment number 84.

    @83 i seriously believe, currently there is no Englishman with the right sort of skill set to be coach

  • Comment number 85.

    what's the criticism of Lancaster?

  • Comment number 86.

    83: I just want the best man for the post and if he's English then all the better. I really don't understand why qualification rules which would mirror those of players haven't been brough in across all sports though.

  • Comment number 87.

    Some might argue that your previous football and rugby coaches were from a different planet rather than just a foreign country. Has any country managed to have 2 such quixotic coaches at the same time as Messieurs Domenech & Lievremont?

  • Comment number 88.

    ha, the two coaches you mentioned brought about two world cup finals!!!

    i dont think the two are comparable. Domenech was just a crazed man, very confrontational, and serious tactical mistakes from the beginning. Lievremont started 'normally' and you may not have agreed with his tactics and decisions, but you understood why he was doing it. They share a lack of man management, and a passport that's about all. Lievremont has the sympathy of the french public after the final, where as we say ..ppffffffff

  • Comment number 89.

    I have never been comfortable with the hiring of head coaches who would not qualify to play for the country. I think Andy Flower has done an amazing job with the England cricket team and is one of the most impressive people involved in sport. That does not mean I agree with the principle of it. The reason is has not been legislated in international sport is one of enforceability. How far would the eligibility or otherwise of national coaches be extended to the support staff or advisors ? Teams would simply nominate an eligible head coach with the non-eligible person being a “special advisor” or something.

    France reached the final in spite of rather than because of Lievremont. I was so angry with the French over the last couple of years as I always want NH teams to compete well in World Cup. England did not have the players to win the world cup and therefore France was our sole hope of NH winning the world cup. You had the players to travel to New Zealand and expect to win. These opportunities do not arise very often and I’m afraid your coach blew it.

  • Comment number 90.

    Totally agree regarding coaches nationality. I would much prefer to have a Welshman in charge of our rugby team in honesty, similarly many of my mates here have despaired at having Swedish and Italian coahces for the football team. But after what happened with Gareth Jenkins I've have taken an English coach (which we do have anyway in Edwards) over someone as inept as him.

    Had never really though of it that way with how to legislate backroom staff etc, you have given my straight line view point against it a bit of a tinker...

    Looking forward to all the matches this weekend, and in honesty am possibly more looking forward to the England v France match. Wales v Italy will either be a one sided contest (not usually that thirlling) or seeing Wales play below where they should and thus be infuriating (for a Welsah fan). Whereas with Le Crunch we get to see where England will go from their fine performance against Wales. Lots of comments about how they could be 0 from 3, aren't looking good in attack etc. Rubbish. Fact is, new coach, new players, first thing you do, steady the ship, make yourselves hard to beat, do the basics right. For the most part they've done this without showing too much flair. I imagine though this will be much better for the development of the players than going out playing open rugby and getting hammered.

    France have a bit to prove too, and you know the players will want this one, or at least should... Last week they looked a bit like they were suffering from some Vin rouge on Saturday night. All in all, I reckon should be a good match and am interested to see where England go from here.

  • Comment number 91.

    Oh, and always a joy to watch that French try. That one and the Lions v NZ with (i think) Edwards scoring are my favs ever.

  • Comment number 92.

    ive no idea from which planet those posters claiming that the welsh have made extraordinary claims about our current team are from...its certainly not planet earth. As nobody associated with the welsh team or any of its supporters have made any such claims. All we have done is state the facts. We were the top performing home nation in the world cup - fact, and we are unbeaten this season and are the only team who can now win a grand slam - fact! which of course would be our third grand slam in 7 years - fact.

    As for the jibe about slipping up against lesser teams well we didnt in 2005 or in 2008 and we certainly wont on saturday....thankyou bortolami by the way for your wonderful pre-match comments....the wonderful and terrible irony for these posters is that if their side can somehow contrive a win against france on sunday it will as good as hand us a third grand slam in 7 years on a plate....

  • Comment number 93.

    you have to admire the rfu timing

    hardly a vote of confidence in lancaster and his much vaunted 'younger brighter, better' england side. Clearly lancaster's england have played far too much thrilling and open rugby for the blazers at twickers if they are speaking to people like dour and safety first as they come as a coach!! so goodbye the 'breath of fresh air' that was owen farrel and welcome back jonny wilkinson.....

  • Comment number 94.

    I can read France won 5 of the last 10 Six Nations, including 3 Grand slams. I guess Jeremy predicted it too.
    I would be pleased to win the tournament, as for me.


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