England v France: Initial Reaction

It wasn’t the greatest spectacle, but England’s unbeaten run continues as they saw off the French 17 – 9 at Twickenham today.

The first half saw penalties traded between Toby Flood and Dimitri Yachvili, but then Ben Foden scored the decisive try just after half-time and England managed to hold on until the end.

Well be bringing you all the usual exclusive post-match reaction, opinions, player ratings and so on, but let us know what you thought of the game in the meantime.

Who do you think played well? Can England win the Grand Slam? Lots of people are already talking about Ireland, but the Scots should not be underestimated.

16 thoughts on “England v France: Initial Reaction

  1. I was at the game and have no fingernails left! Didn’t have commentary or ref link so can some one give me a heads up on how we had three tries disallowed?

  2. I can’t see what was wrong with Tindal’s, but Ashton’s was a forward pass. French didn’t do too much more than in Ireland, why are they kicking so much away? France are better than that and I pity whoever plays them next for sure. as soon as I saw Chabal in to start I thought it was a mistake and he was pretty dire, – he is great on the bench, but that’s all.

    But what about the England Bench? Jonny, Steve Thompson, Shaw, Care, Fourie …. what other International team has a bench like that? I remain really impressed with England’s calmness and professionalism in winning and closing, and the way we have talent all over the pitch.

    I got Eng to grand slam at 4 to 1 pre tournament ….. I wonder what the odds are now? Let’s hope Scotland don’t put toooo much of a spring in Ireland’s step for the final week tomorrow!

  3. Maxwell – Agree re: the French. Trinh-Duc’s decision to launch an up-and-under after only a few phases of their first attack was baffling. The decision made more sense later on when it came off with the taller Rougerie easily beating Foden, but in the first instant the decision was premature and smacked of a lack of ideas.

    Tindall’s try should have stood, I’m convinced that he was not held. No qualms with forward pass for Ashton’s non-try.

  4. The difference in the attitude of the England team in the second half was amazing. Would love to have known what was said in the dressing room at half time!

    Thought that it was a great physical game of rugby, Wilkinson really made his mark on the game.

    Do think that in the first half we were trying too hard, the scoreline could have been very different if had played those first 40 minutes like we did the second.

  5. Why do England have so many players who don’t know the rules and thus give away silly ppenalties? Don’t they realise that most matches are won or lost on penalty goals? That is how England won the World Cup after all!

  6. Great performance from the front 5, with Hartley my pick of the bunch – dynamic and aggressive in attack and defence. (that first scrum was a joy to behold) Palmer has now strung together several consistently excellent performances. Back row a little average in my view. Haskell and Wood OK. I know Easter is being lauded my many of the pundits, but I don’t see it. Need more pace and explosive power, but I got no solutions… Sad to see seabass have such a howler. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help but admire the guy, my favorite French player ever.

    It seems like a while since we were all so excited to get Foden into the side, but he too has had several consistently strong games. Solid and reliable in defence and always dangerous in possession. Great try, showed determination and strength. Wish we could buy him another 6 inches for the high balls.

    Back line generally lacked threat today with the French playing more of a drift defence. They got plenty of decent ball, but too often found themselves squeezed out to the touchline. Other teams will surely see this and attempt a similar tactic. Never thought I’d say this Johnno, but there were times today when I wish we’d focused more on the forwards punching holes and getting into the French 22 before letting it fly.

    Another disappointing game for Hape. Lucky for him that 12 seems to be where our cover is thinnest. I think he should try something different now, even if just for one game. Not many games to RWC11. Great first touch for Johnny, but after that he got me worried a few times. His kicking from hand was pretty aimless, and some of his passes were not much better. Flood is miles ahead right now. Already way better than I thought he could ever be, and he’s not done improving.

    All in all though, a very pleasing result, especially after all that “we hate them” bollocks. Guess what, we don’t like you much either. See you in Christchurch mofo’s.

  7. A fairly reliable and steady performance from the English. The French were trying some good things but just not managing to get past the gameline.

    Hape is a quandary for me. He occasionally has moments of brilliance with line breaks reminiscent of an in form Gavin Henson but occasionally lets the team down with disastrous mistakes. It’s like he is a very young player who needs to learn control but he is 28 or 29 I think, he should have learnt by now. Also with Tindall next to him (who was very good but has certainly lost a step or 2) the centres are the weakest point of the English team (in my opinion). Find some players more like Brian O’driscoll or Jamie Roberts and they could really be on for another world cup.

  8. I agree Moggy, I’m not convinced by Hape. The captaincy has truly lifted Tindal for sure but he needs someone else with flair next to him. I was hoping we’d see more of Flutey after his work on the Lions tour – is he injured? I also wonder if they’ve ever played Jonny there in the current set up? …. How great would it be to have Guscott or Greenwood in this team?

  9. As far as I’m concerned this was a much better game to watch than the Italy thrashing, the boys played with real passion and commitment and France were nowhere near as bad as some of the press are suggesting. A real treat for genuine lovers of rugby and not only the English supporters.

  10. Tom Wood and Corbisiero had another fantastic Game. Croft and Sheridan will need to work hard to get their places back.

    If the Back-line had been stood deeper and hit the ball straighter and at more pace i think the score could have been pretty disasterous!

  11. Uncle Mat – i’m now one of those Easter converts. He’ll never be a Read or a Heaslip but when all the other English forwards were getting smashed around the pitch and wearily getting ready for another big hit he was always making yards, he never lets himself get hit backwards. He’s often on hand to support a back when they’re out of options and he very rarely gives penalties away (actually, was it Easter who swiped the ball back in front of our posts when Dan Cole was about to legally pick it up? If so i take that back!).

    Also, Louis Deacon played really well! But don’t let that hinder Lawes getting straight back into the side. Palmer took a while to get over his heavy early hit but was excellent again. Tindall was abysmal in attack again and although he made his tackles he often allowed the French centres to get around him and make yards before scragging them back.

    Hutch – do you have any clips of Lievremont post-match? I haven’t seen any reaction in the news yet but I hope he was humble and respectful!

  12. Uncle Mat
    The British Press long ago labelled Wilko a kicker and serial hospital-case and most simple-minded Rugby fans have bought into that image.
    All the attention after Saturday’s match centred on his penalty kick; and the fact that he needed balls of steel to convert it after coming on cold from the bench.
    Virtually no-one has mentioned that, once he came on, the England back line played with a great deal more purpose and impact. I don’t remember a single Wilkinson pass not going to hand. In fact, his one-handed off-load to Tindall for the non-try would have had everybody raving if it had come from a Sonny-Boy Williams or Dan Carter.
    Likewise his inside pass that set Chris Ashton free to take on Vincent Clerc was perfectly timed as was the thirty yarder he threw to Tindall having made forty covering yards to recover the ball in the first place. .
    As for kicking out of hand, Wilkinson put one Garrywen a shade too long, one penalty took England from just outside their own 22 deep into the French 22 ( only for the pack to butcher the rlolling maul ) and his last kick was designed to roll deep into Fench territory and keep them pegged back – which it did. Which other kicks are you referring to?
    He not only got the line moving much quicker than Flood had in the first half but his defensive covering and quick thinking got England out of trouble on at least two occasions. And that’s without even bothering to mention his tackling.

    Journalists don’t understand Wilkinson because he doesn’t fit into any mould. He is introvert, intense and strangely obsessive about improving himself. Most of them hark from Rugby’s amateur past when training was followed by several pints and a fag- not by a couple of extra solo hours honing kicking skills. Wilkinson also made the grievous error of refusing to retire following a series of potentially career ending injuries post 2003which would have seen most ordinary mortals hang up their boots long ago. So, to the label “kicker” the Press added Hospital Case and other mindless soubriquets. I wince whenever I see Wilko referred to as a kicking machine. When he played at Newcastle with Noon, Matthew Tait, Tom May and, latterly, Toby Flood they frequently ran teams off the pitch with their handling and running lines. It was the Newcastle pack that was their Achilles heel.
    Wilkinson at Toulon has been in similar fantastic form. At the end of the last season, the players and coaches of the French league named their team of the year. Wilkinson was overwhelmingly their first choice at Number 10. Meanwhile, back in the UK, journalists who rely more on cliches than actual thought or insight, still label him a kicking machine. And people like you are, obviously, happy to buy into it and repeat it on blogs such as this one.
    If you have the game on tape, go back and watch Wilkinson’s performance, then come back on here and repeat what you said about his contribution.

  13. Fantastic Peter – 100% spot on! He did it in the other games he came off the bench too, his tracking back is nothing short of remarkable and the last tackle against Italy? The Journo’s and blonde bimbo half time ‘highlights’ prefer the easy stuff: Shane Williams, Lee Byrne, the ‘fantastic’ Chabal …. leave them to it. Fortunately Jonno doesn’t dance to their tune and leaves it to the others – we will see them all in the Autumn.

    Out of interest – what would you do with the midfield and is Jonny an option there? I was hoping to see Flutey grow into the role after the Lions tour but it never happened ….

  14. Max

    Glad you agree. Don’t get me wrong, I think Toby Flood is a really excellent player and has done a fantastic job. At present, he deserves to be number 1 choice for the fly-half position. But, both he and Youngs looked flakey at times on Saturday and it was interesting to see how much more organised things looked once JW came on.

    Personally, I don’t buy into the Jeremy Gusscott theory that Fllod and Wilkinson couldn’t play together at 10 and 12 because the midfield would be too slow. They did it at Newcastle to good effect and were able to inetrchange positions the whole time; leaving the other side to guess who would be first receiver..
    Hape and Tindall have plodded up and down the pitch for three games. They must be the slowest midfield in International rugby but, so far, no one has managed to find them out, mostly because they make their first up tackles most of the time.

    I have never really rated Flutey. I would prefer to see Johno fast-track 12Trees or Brad Barritt, bring back Anthony Allen or take a punt on James Simpson Daniel, David Strettle or Matt Banahan at outside centre with Wilkinson at 12. Another alternative would be to give Cueto a run at 13, enabling them to bring in Strettle, Ojo, JSD, Delon Armitage or someone else with real pace on the wing.

  15. @ “Max” – thanks for that link. I recall thinking how it was one of those games where the ref was just giving free kicks and penalties to both teams in turn at scrum time. Usually that’s because he didn’t know what was going on. Most of them he gave a good reason by way of explanation but as with the breakdown, there’s usually 4 or 5 infringements each time and the ref just picks the one he wants to blow the whistle for!

    At least Lievremont admitted we were the better side.

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