Six Nations Rugby - England v France Players

6 Nations 2015 Preview: England v France

A hugely exciting finale to the RBS Six Nations rugby championship is in prospect.

England, Ireland and Wales could all claim the honours albeit there is no Grand Slam to contest.

And if England are to beat France at Twickenham then fans, be they in the stands, enjoying VIP corporate hospitality or at home watching on the television, will want to see the home side do it with style.

An intriguing clash – France rarely travel well but surely are due a good game after pretty insipid displays to date.

Where has the Gallic flair gone?

Can England really perform and lay a marker down for the autumn World Cup?

The defeat in Dublin was a blow; the victory over Scotland was littered with errors.

If they take the title then they can rightly celebrate – never any good to peak too early.

But, a bit like the Manchester United supporters feel this season, bar the recent Spurs match, it is all very well winning but you won’t be remembered if it is not done with panache and aplomb.

Become the next legends of the sport.

England needs to put the frighteners on their southern hemisphere opponents.

Hard to see it happening however well they play on Saturday, but it might put doubt in New Zealand, South African and Australian minds.

Nevertheless former international hooker Brian Moore was astute in his assessment.

“Whether England win or narrowly lose the Six Nations title, what will not change is the amount of work still to be done.”

And tellingly …

“The finishing of clear try-scoring chances does not require an element of magic, it requires the ball carrier to look for support, adjust his speed if necessary and time his final pass. Support runners have to vary their lines to make long and difficult passes unnecessary and to time them so that the passer does not have to flirt with the margins of a forward pass.”

I agree.

Giving a pass is often derided as one of the basics of the game which even an Extra 3rd XV player should be capable of, yet it is at the core of try scoring at the top level.

In fact the centre three quarter who can time a pass to perfection nine times out of ten is worth his weight in gold.

And you have to delve back into history – John Dawes, Mike Gibson – to find such individuals.

Pace is a killer in many sports, particularly football and rugby, but intelligence is special.

England’s young back line has pace aplenty; they need to focus on staying calm as the picture changes around them.

It is one of the reasons I would like to see Danny Cipriani given a go at fly half – he does have the capacity to see split second opportunities which pass lesser mortals by.

Yet you can only see head coach Stuart Lancaster sticking with George Ford.

Ford is a very good player but he is not the mercurial genius that Cipriani could yet become.

Big crowds want to see bravery, risk-taking, commitment and pride in the shirt.

Piling on the points could be crucial to piping Wales and Ireland.

So, come on England – inspire us.

England squad to face France

15. Mike Brown (Harlequins, 36 caps)
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 8 caps)
13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 10 caps)
12. Luther Burrel (Northampton Saints, 11 caps)
11. Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 7 caps)
10. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 10 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 46 caps)

1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 30 caps)
2. Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints, 65 caps)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 49 caps)
4. Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers, 22 caps)
5. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 37 caps)
6.James Haskell (Wasps, 57 caps)
7. Chris Robshaw (captain, Harlequins, 36 caps)
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 16 caps)

Replacements

16. Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 21 caps)
17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 19 caps)
18. Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons, 9 caps)
19. Nick Easter (Harlequins, 50 caps)
20. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 35 caps)
21. Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens, 20 caps)
22. Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks, 11 caps)
23. Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby, 19 caps)

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