A year ago, I remember asking Eddie Jones about the extraordinary fitness of the English squad as I feared that les Bleus would suffer at their hands in Paris. I was wrong and the loss at the Stade de France came up as a total surprise and it marked the beginning of 7 consecutive losses under Eddie Jones’s tenure before the English team ramped up in the autumn.
As of today, les Bleus have suffered 15 losses of their last 18 matches and they haven’t won against Les Anglais for a very long time at Twickenham (was it really 14 years ago?). Both teams have something to prove on Sunday. The English wants revenge for their unexpected loss against the French in February 2018 in Paris and Les Bleus…well, they want to avoid their absymal performance during the second half against Wales and put things right.
A few changes in the squad were announced by Jacques Brunel on Friday for this afternoon’s game:
Matthieu Bastareau (50 Selections) is back as Jacques Brunel wants to inject some physicality in the French team and counter-attack Tuilagi. At long last, Antoine Dupont s returning to the squad – the prodigal son of Rugby after suffering an injury last year and Felix Lambey and Yacouba Camara will be in the team too. Fofana, Medard and Antonio, all injured have been replaced and Ramos and Aldegheri could get their first caps. Yesterday afternoon, Les bleus visited Twickenham and they appeared relaxed during their training but today, they have to win against all odds and play the game not for 40 minutes only but the full 80 minutes. It will be interesting to see Chris Ashton playing against his former teammates from Toulon, Girado and Bastareau. Rumour has it that Chris Ashton has set himself an objective: to score the first try in the first 10 minutes. I’m afraid it might just happen as he was the top tries scorer in the Top 14 last year during his French escapade in la Cote d’Azur.
Anyhow, I’ve lived in England for a long time and I am very fond of the English team but my heart is French and whenever France is playing against England, my French roots come back strongly and I cannot but support my compatriots.
Bonne Chance les Bleus or as we say in French: “Merde” as it’s supposed to bring luck. You’ve got nothing to lose!
PS: I’m off to Dallas tomorrow and will be sitting with my English work colleagues on a plane for 10h30 hours so I pray for a French win or I will be suffering….