Six Nations Predictions: France v England

It’s a shame this isn’t a Grand Slam decider, but the game has significantly more interest for me now that Martin Johnson has shaken things up a little.

If he’d have picked the same misfiring fifteen to take on the French, I’d seriously be considering giving it a miss and looking for a different sport to follow.

However, the prospect of Ben Foden and Chris Ashton running with the ball has filled me with excitement once again. I think Mike Tindall will bring some much-needed direction and nous to the backline, Toby Flood is full of promise and Foden and Ashton have real talent. My nagging worry is that they’ll be shadows of the players that we see in Northampton colours, but I have my fingers crossed that they get some ball.

Flood will be aware of all the criticism of Jonny Wilkinson, and he’ll know that spinning it wide rather than hoofing it aimlessly would be a great Personal PR exercise, and there’s absolutely nothing to lose, so we might just see the backs in full flight.

I say ‘might’ because I still have significant reservations over the quality of the English pack. It still lacks any sort of dynamism, and it’s frustrating that Johnno forgot about some of the lumbering, ineffective forwards when he was making sweeping changes this week. Maybe he’d forgotten they were playing because they’ve contributed so little.

There’s no suggestion that they’ll now be able to produce quick ball, and without it, it’s almost irrelevant which players are lining up in the backs. I think a Gallic capitulation is the best they can hope for.

However, I can’t see this French side choking under the pressure. The hard part of their Grand Slam campaign is now done – they’ve won away in Scotland and Wales, and they’ve beaten last year’s champions in Paris. They are clear favourites to make it five from five, and I really don’t think Marc Lievremont will have been losing much sleep over the prospect of this English team turning up on Saturday night.

Morgan Parra and Francois Trinh-Duc are developing into a fearsome half-back combination, and they seem to have a healthy mixture of pace and power in the wider channels.

There is more pressure on the hosts to clinch the Grand Slam, but England play like the weight of the world is on their shoulders anyway, so I don’t think that will make much difference. Their pack is infinitely better, and whilst England has a back row that tends to play like a second row, the French have second rows that play like the back row. With Imanol Harinodoquy – a shoo-in for Player of the Tournament – leading the charge, the French pack will be able to repel the extent of England’s attacking armoury, the backs will have the class to take their opportunities when they arise, and they should win comfortably.

My SportGuru prediction is France by 13.

16 thoughts on “Six Nations Predictions: France v England

  1. Optimism, I like to see that, well If England revert to an aimles kicking game then this French team will cut loose and return the ball with interest and it could be France by 23 points.

  2. For the first time in this six nations I am happy, Borthwack is injured and will not start, still no place for Lawes which is a shame. Moody now captain, strange after he was dropped. I think Johnson is losing the plot.

  3. Mj coaches like he played-win at all costs.I am loathed to say this,but i would rather we play some rugby and lose.There is no merit in playing doer and losing.

  4. England by 4. We’ve got the French right where we want them. Tick this one off and the English juggernaut marches on as the Grand Plan to achieve world domination by autumn 2011 continues apace and right on schedule. Despite all the naysayers, England have made significant progress in key areas and are a positive and talented squad who have great things in them.

    All this must be true. Martin Johnson, John Wells and no, most importantly, Rob Andrew as well. They can’t all be delusional can they? Can they?

  5. Making Moody captain is an extraordinary decision – one week he’s not good enough to play for England, this week he is England captain.

    Another nonsensical decision by a management team that is seriously losing credibility.

  6. Agree Hutch, I thought he’d go for Easter or Shaw, if only to avoid highlighting his embarrassing u-turn with Moody.

    I predict France by 12, but have a sneaking suspicion Geoff will be closer with 23.

  7. Very excited about ‘Super Saturday’! Wales v Italy and Ireland v Scotland could be very entertaining, and with all the England changes, I’m intrigued to see how we get on.

  8. I don’t have a problem with the Moody drop-to-captain issue actually. We all know that when on the field he’s one of the few leaders, and picking a captain based on each starting 15 should be what we’re looking to do, rather than sticking with someone who isn’t performing.

    England by 3 – vive l’optimisme.

  9. Another game of Rugby ruined by a bad referee. Scap the scrum, cut points for a penalty to one, cut the sin bin to five minutes. This game has become a joke. The referee decides more than 50% of the scores.

  10. Happy with Foden tonight, not sure about Ashton though and not sure why MJ replaced Tindall – he was playing a blinder. Moody led well. Hope Borthwick doesn’t get the captaincy back – hope he doesn’t get his place back. We may be able to start rebuilding with these guys……

  11. Bad loosers Rob and Geoff! Booooo!

    The French won playing in the English style, you played well but we had a better defence and controlled the game better than you… Grandslam!!

  12. Rodolfle,
    France did what was needed aided by some fortunate decisions, their defence was not better. Isn’t it ironic that if it hadn’t rained, England would have cut loose, this French side are not that great and were there to be beaten. OK I have slatted MJ and England,s abject performances, but this was far better and I am once again optimistic. However this game showed that Borthwack is finished, Foden is an absolute for the no 15 jersey and that, Deacon, Shaw, Easter, Tait, and Cuato need to step aside, they are not good enough. I still have faith in Flutey. Please MJ do not waste the opportunity in Australia and NZ look at tonight its a start, Lawes, Kennedy, Gererghty, and Ben Youngs must be included.

  13. “Bad loosers Rob and Geoff! Booooo!

    The French won playing in the English style, you played well but we had a better defence and controlled the game better than you… Grandslam!!”

    Rodofle
    Not bad losers, France deserved their Grand Slam, pleased that England decided to play rugby at at last. France could easily have lost because their game plan was not to lose, so they abandonded their attackin flair. This game plan also used by England in the past has brought them some defeats in matches they should have won. As for better defence – which side scored a try within 5 mins???? And did france break the english defence and cross the white wash???

    Again, congtats to France, no sour grapes on this side of Le Manche. :-)

  14. France deserved their grandslam, they were the better team, because they played badly but did enough, that is real class.

    England have a lot to do, one game in the entire year is not enough to call improvment.

    Positives:
    1 – Moody did well as captain, the team looked more pepped up and ready to go, his performance was asured and besides he is probably the best open side we have so he deserves his place.

    2 – The backthree looked good if not deadly, they wasted some chances, however they didn’t semm lost in space rather they took their 2 on 1 very well. Foden had a stormer, looked to get involved and didn’t kick the ball away, never lost the ball either and took the high ball. Paris in the rain, not the easiest start for a fullback but he more than coped.

    3 – The backrow looked full of fight and won some quick ball tackled when the had to, Worsley much better than Haskell. But England still need a class N8

    3 – Flood looked assured at 10, deserves more chances.

    Negatives:

    1 – The scrum got it’s ass kicked by a far superior french unit, their best scrummager is injured by the way.

    2 – The midfield was better only because of a great performance by Tindall, we need new blood, I don’t know where we will get it from.

    3 – Interplay between backs and forwards doesn’t exsist.

    Conclusion:

    Much better performance but there is a LONG way to go, the team has magor weaknesses and is only capable of applying a simple game-plan, we have no offloading forwards, no maul, no devestatying middfield runners. We are very limited and need to develop some answers. I don’t think this coaching team is one to do it. They aren’t good enough.

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