Sunday 18 March 2018

France playing into English hands

FRANCE coach Philippe Saint-Andre (pictured) has admitted to opting for "a strategic choice" in playing Lionel Beauxis and Julien Dupey ahead of Francois Trinh-Duc and Morgan Parra at half-back.

It is a decision that seems to play into English hands as Saint-Andre has decided to play them at their own game rather than blow them off the park with French flair.

This could be the biggest mistake of his fledgling career as national coach.

It is not a surprise given Saint-Andre’s two seasons as a player at Gloucester and four years as the coach at Kingsholm.

He has a distinct Anglo-Gallic style to the way he sees the game. He wants to beat you up before he takes you out. This is not often advisable against the leaden-footed English.

Interim coach Stuart Lancaster’s grip is tightening on the England head coach position with every game. He has overseen turgid wins over Scotland (13-6) and Italy (19-15) and a glorious defeat by Wales (19-12) in the sort of performance that could make this temporary arrangement a long-term one.

The key for Lancaster is to make sure England can repeat that level of ferocity away to France and at home to Ireland.

If he can, the RFU might just give him they keys to his kingdom.

France v England Sunday 3.0 RTé/bbc1

Verdict: England.

France: C Poitrenaud; V Clerc, A Rougerie, W Fofana, J Malzieu; L Beauxis, |J Dupey; J-B Poux, D Szarzewski, N Mas, P Pape, Y Maestri, T Dusautoir (capt), J Bonnaire, I Harinordoquy.

England: B Foden; C Ashton, M Tuilagi, B Barritt, D Strettle; O Farrell, L Dickson; A Corbisiero, D Hartley, D Cole, M Botha, G Parling, T Croft, C Robshaw (capt), B Morgan.

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