Sunday Mar 22, 2015 England and France's Twickenham thriller not enough in dramatic title chase

England and France's Twickenham thriller not enough in dramatic title chase
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England had the advantage of playing third on the final day of the Six Nations, so knew exactly what they needed to edge Ireland to the title – a 26 point winning margin over France. As it was, an epic match ensued, but England came up short when they won 55-35.

It was a battle within a battle, as England put on one of their best ever performances to give themselves a real shot at the title, but the French, playing only for pride, scored some wonderful tries of their own and never gave up in front of a jampacked Twickenham.

On a day when Wales scored 60 against Italy and Ireland scored 40 against Scotland, England’s 55 points against arch rivals France simply weren’t good enough, leaving a bitter-sweet taste for fans, and players, who came within inches of claiming a Six Nations title.

Ben Youngs, who scored two tries in the pulsating game, was left heartbroken post match.

“I don’t really know what to say. I’m devastated… First of all, congratulations to Ireland. From our point of view, we’re devastated. We gave it a crack, but you can’t let them get back in the game.

“Each time we got a try they seem to get one back and that was the biggest disappointment.

“But we were determined not to leave anything out there or waste any chances. It’s not very often you score seven tries, beat France and walk off feeling pretty sick. But at least we have the consolation of winning a big game at Twickenham and showing people that we can finish off moves and score plenty of tries when we play this way,” the Man of the Match scrumhalf added.

Coach Stuart Lancaster said he was gutted to come second again, but praised his team.

“I said to the boys that’s one of the most courageous performance I’ve seen from a team. To go down like we did and show the character to come back. It was an unbelievable game of rugby and it was desperately disappointing not to get that try at the end.”

“We played some fantastic rugby and those two first tries from France hurt us but it will go down as one of the great games of rugby. Credit to Ireland for winning the championship, they beat us and congratulations to Joe [Schmidt] and all his team.”

England, Ireland and Wales all finshed the tournament on 8 points, but Ireland’s suprior points difference of 63 (to England’s 57 and Wales’ 53) proved crucial. France came fourth, while Italy’s victory at Murrayfield kept them off the bottom, where Scotland bagged the wooden spoon.



42 Comments

  •  drg
    drg

    Thank you for your reply. Thats great to hear about Trinh Duc, of course his inclusion makes France a better team; which isn't necessarily a good thing for a non French fan, however it pains me to see how relatively badly France are playing in this current moment of time. So him being included is brilliant. As for the other names, obviously Para and Fofana are big names, I think I've heard of the other 2 (Autumn internationals?). Great to see France become a big force to be reckoned with once again!

    Reply
  •  frenchie
    frenchie

    @DrG : The missing players were injured before the tournament (Picamoles, Trinh Duc) or are now injured after having played (Para, Fofana). There are 2 very promising centers we haven't seen due to injury (Dumoulin and Lamerat) and they might have missed their last chance to be in the team for the WC. A shame. As for Trinh Duc yes he was not really in PSA papers but had been selected for the 6Nations just before his injury. He hopefully will be in the WC. I think he's a much better player than the other 2: solid defense, good kicking, play close to the defense in attack...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    This was written a little while ago, so I'm not sure if you'll read my reply. You mentioned 'key players were missing' - I don't follow an awful lot of French rugby, but were the players missing or have the been omitted? i.e. dropped by PSA? Seems to me the guy has had a sheer dislike of Trinh Duc for a while. I think France needs the likes of these players, I'm just wondering if it will ever have them due to PSA?

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I was a bit of a neutral in the match, I wanted to see the French play in their old style; flair, excitement, which I believe they made a decent attempt at doing. I'd have given the French winger try, I think the ball was on the ground before the foot was out, but I'd sort of question the grounding... then again, if his finger tips were on the ball, it's still a try! I still cannot believe he went that close to the whole thing though!

    Reply
  •  felipeg
    felipeg

    Yes that Twickenham french attack with their Rome defense... that would be an uber-team. But i m not sure it's just possible to have those two teams together on the field.

    Reply
  •  frenchie
    frenchie

    The craziest game i've ever watched! Each team played on his opponent mistakes it seems. England deserved the win but the English are quick blowing their trumpets, as usual. The scoreboard is flattering. That Vunipola try is a joke; if checked it would have been disallowed. Full stop. The French missed easy kicks as well and on that day the French defense was awful! What happened? That game gives us a much better idea of the team for the world cup...finally. And I believe they will improve still, get better Some key players were missing and should come back: Fofana, Para, Picamoles, Trinh Duc... That French team has more potential than what you might think.

    Reply
  •  jimmy23
    jimmy23

    I think it's more what happens after he's taken the ball in. As you say, he attracts a lot of defenders, so if he doesn't break the line, he'll have sucked in a couple of people. Then it's simple, make sure the ball is recycled quickly, then with the likes of Youngs, Ford, Joseph, Nowell and Watson in the back line and try get them to use the space left behind by the defenders sucked into tackling Tuilagi. Granted, it's not going to work EVERY time, but you'd think eventually it would. Besides, if Tuilagi could then improve his distribution we could have our very own Nonu! That could be wishful thinking, but that's what I'd like to think could potentially happen :)

    Reply
  •  felipeg
    felipeg

    Indeed it may. Its not obvious that the ball is lost. I think if he wasnt with his feet on the line no one would have questionned him beeing in control of the ball. But then he had is feet on the line at the exact same time the ball touches the ground. And I must say I dont know what to do with that! I was fair to reward him with a try but not sure it was the "legaly right" decision. So to me it should be one french and two english tries less. but then again, the ref is the ref and I wouldn't have it any other way. I don't think he was particularly biased. In the beginning of the game he seemed pretty quick to whistle then he let play a lot and it was a beautiful game.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I'm not so sure about Tuilagi - I don't think he offers the great punching attacks that are expected (possibly due to overdefending against him)... Seems to me he has his usefulness, but I'm not sure if relying on "pass to the battering ram" is an ideal game plan...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    To be fair, you said the scorelines flatters France, they just stated why it didn't flatter France at all, and HAD France got their kicks, the scoreline would have been (perhaps) deservedly closer... I think France played some awful rugby at times, but also some brilliant rugby. I'd personally say the scoreline in this game is spot on and doesn't flatter either side. England played very well, and France played some sublime rugby too...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    But that French wingers try may require scrutiny... As a commentator said, if you're French it's a try, if you're English it's not.... That call could have gone either way, the ball looked like it could have fallen from his hands...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Of course they recognise a massive victory, but that must have been such an exhausting and hard game and to win with so many tries (scores by both teams) yet get told instantly that they 'lost' the tournament must be a huge disappointment... Every teams goal is to win the tournament, but they have to win the games to get there, so it's safe to say, tournament victory is bigger than game victory...

    Reply
  •  upthejumper
    upthejumper

    That's immaterial. The only stats that count are points scored not missed, literally. I reckon we'll look back on this game as an all-time classic, despite the excellent result for the Irish at Murrayfeild. They deserved the 6N title, just, and only just got it too.

    Reply
  •  facepalm
    facepalm

    Bloody good game but the defensive coaches have something to answer!

    Reply
  •  flanker2712
    flanker2712

    Not sure England counts as a "dark horse"? Unless by that term you mean anyone in the competition other than NZ. England are second favourites to win, somewhere between 3/1 and 4/1 at most bookies, with the All Blacks obviously favourites at somewhere around 5/4.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    a werther's original ad. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TpxEOQ0bVo

    Reply
  •  larry
    larry

    Yes, centers need to do more than just run at the opposition to set up another....ruck.

    Reply
  •  larry
    larry

    The highlights of the game show that both teams opened it up and didn't play a tight game. That's the way rugby is supposed to be played. The ball needs to be passed around, and really mistakes need to be made, because the team with the ball almost has guaranteed possession with the current laws regarding tackling, rucking, and mauling. There will be knock-ons, errant passes, and wayward kicks that allow for opportunities to advance the ball, leading to "end to end stuff." Also, no matter how fit any team is, with so much running around the pitch, apparently like in this France-England match, whether with the ball or having to tackle in defense, some players will get tired enough to miss tackles or fail to follow up ball in support. Those with enough gas will get to where they are supposed to be to score or defend. Pieces of the game then look almost like 7s.

    Reply
  •  guy
    guy

    Non on the obstruction aussi. At no point Lawes gets in front of the ball carrier.

    Reply
  •  willus
    willus

    Indeed what you have said is absolutely correct, but without good and proper exposure over what holes need to be patched... it will be even more difficult!

    Reply
  •  oliver
    oliver

    Bonjour Dan! :-) yes it was a great tournament, but no French fan feels proud of the team just yet I think. We finished 4th! And I doubt the Scotts are satisfied too. But yes, it was satisfying to finally see the French backs letting loose, instead of dropping balls all over the place!

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    Ps: Some teenage comments arguing on debatable decisions (Nakaitaci try, Watson one, Vunipola knock-on) rather concentrating on the most important: It was a bloody good game of rugby

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    The kind of game which make me scream: "Rule Britannia" or "Vive la France" with the same enthusiasm. I hope people watched it with attention cause i'm not sure we'll watch such a show in futures england-france. England had to play to conquer the 6N, France had to play to reconquer confidence and lost public love. Mission 'almost' accomplished for both teams. Quite impressed by england perf. It's rare enough to watch an english team playing an ambitious brand of rugby, so, i will follow the likes of Joseph, Ford & Brown in the next months. But, tactically, the rose isn't still ready. Without fofana, medard, thomas, parra, trinh-duc, picamoles & co, France achieved to play a great rugby, but like many, i want to see more from this team. Like in 1999 and 2011, France will begin the Hcup without certainty, but in a certain way, it's certainly their best force.

    Reply
  •  felipeg
    felipeg

    12 points lost with the boot as a matter of fact. Definitely not a flatterings score. Its 7vs5 tries, a couple of them - on both side - being arguable. A great game anyway. Too bad France was so bad again in the beginning, passing the ball to no one and those kind of things...

    Reply
  •  danknapp
    danknapp

    Hey Oliver. I agree, Le Crunch is always special. France played like France for the first time this tournament and gave us a spectacle. It is a good tournament when the fans of every single team can be proud at the finish. Yes, we wanted those 26 points, but first of all we had to beat France. I seriously hope that France can build on this and maintain this flair. It has been missing for too long! Allez les Bleus!

    Reply
  •  danknapp
    danknapp

    Owens gets a lot of love on this site, and it's not hard to see why. There are some who like to have a go, but their comments are invariably error-strewn and so can be disregarded as the work of children or imbeciles. Mr Owens is quite simply the best referee in the world. He does make mistakes but they tend not to be large ones, and the games he referees tend to flow well. He simply does not take any shit from the players which I adore. I was explaining the importance of respecting the referee to my 6 year old son at one point in the game and when Owens told Robshaw off he clocked it! Important lessons for youngster watching to see and learn from.

    Reply
  •  danknapp
    danknapp

    We've been saying that for a few years, so I doubt anything dramatic can be done! We are a good team who can play well at times, but so many international outfits are. We're not consistently good - something which only New Zealand and South Africa can really claim to be. Until we are consistent we won't be world beaters.

    Reply
  •  oliver
    oliver

    One of the best rugby games I ever saw I believe! I don't want to be only posting here to bitch about Lawes' tackle, so let me say, kudos to both teams. I was particularly impressed with the English quick line-out that led to an 80 m try. One of the turning points of the game I believe. This all looks very promising for the WC! Lots of teams have the potential, it's going to be tight. And I would not dismiss les Bleus just yet, they usually do pretty good when nobody expects them to. PS I really have to start working and stop wasting time on RD!!

    Reply
  •  jimmy23
    jimmy23

    Bonkers, I think is the appropriate word to describe that game. I could be cynical and say "we should have not given away that silly penalty at the end" or "I knew our missed chances against Scotland would haunt us". But can't fault how brave and committed that performance was. They had a monumental task to achieve and the fact that they came so close is impressive. I think it's also worth pointing out that the French turned up for this game and played some bloody good rugby (bar the first 10 mins), so I won't say that our inadequacies are the reason why they scored 35 points. However gutted I was that we came so close, I agree with you're comment of just missing out might give them that extra motivation for the WC. Could be a blessing in disguise. And yes, Joseph HAS to stay. How long has it been since we had a good centre than can do more than run into people lots? As for the epic Dan Cole/Tillous-Borde chase, if someone could CGI a baguette to replace the rugby call in Tillous-Bourde's hands and put a nightstick in Coles's I would be forever grateful!

    Reply
  •  oliver
    oliver

    talk about being one-sided.....you do realize France missed 8 points with the boot, just to start with? I have to agree on your other point though: it was an amazing day of rugby!

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    There is a direct and unequivocal correlation between Nigel Owens and really enjoyable games of rugby. He exerts such a calm but firm authority and at the same time seems to get the game to flow very naturally. I actually think with some other refs this would not have been a 12-try thriller. Indeed above a few France fans criticising what they view as missed infringements but they are really clutching at straws. I think on balance he was even to both sides in hat respect. And he's always consistent. His best bit was towards the end where Robshaw was starting to over-step the mark in terms of how the captain can speak to the ref. Owens raised an eyebrow, put on a bollocking face and went "Christopher...." Robshaw, suitably chastised, scuttled off tail between legs. I thought I even heard him mutter "sorry dad!" as he jogged away...

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    What an amazing game. Best result possible for England. Proved to themselves that they can score tries when they back themselves to do so. Sneaking a big enough win to secure the championship would, I think, have given them too high an opinion of how far they had progressed. Missing out like this will help keep their feet on the ground and keep the hunger alive. The gaps in their game are also laid bare so they'll know what to work on - ie maintaining defensive discipline without so promising that attacking threat. I would really like to know what was going through James Haskells mind when he did that trip! On France's own 22! It was as unnecessary as it was retarded. A pity too as he'd been having another good game until that point, in my opinion. England should be quietly satisfied. The Ford-Youngs axis looks very impressive and they're really starting to work well as a combo. 3 or 4 examples in his match of having that instinctive awareness of each other's position in and movement. Youngs had his best match for England in a while. They have a decent set of backs who again are starting to gel together very nicely. Burrell deserves more credit than he gets in my opinion; having said that I can't see him keeping his place if a fit Tuilagi were available. They MUST keep Joseph trough - he personifies everything that is most exciting about England's attacking play. Moments of the match for me: Debaty- what?? How did he get to be in support for his try? Amazing speed for a prop. Maybe he knew he was about to be replaced so didn't need to worry about conserving energy? Similarly, Dan Cole trying to catch Tillous-Borde! Looked like some shopkeeper chasing a young thief.

    Reply
  •  willus
    willus

    Whilst I get that player's hate losing, having that performance show what kind of holes they have means that Lancaster should be able to patch them up better. Come World Cup time, they will likely be a very dangerous side if not already.

    Reply
  • Mostly regarding the implication that two tries for the English were allowed that maybe should not have been, for infringements leading up to them - that if one were to nitpick away an English try or two, one may also end up finding flaws in a French try or two.

    Reply
  • My comment was to Matt. I should've stated that. I wasn't disagreeing with yours.

    Reply
  •  upthejumper
    upthejumper

    Non, Burrell and le Roux were shoulder to shoulder, in fact Burrell was just in front, and they dove on the ball together: https://youtu.be/zOpYoTatKnY?t=3m38s

    Reply
  •  upthejumper
    upthejumper

    Not nitpicking, just stating my viewpoint. You're right, in a game with so many scoring opportunities and incidents a few things will get missed, like Vunipola spilling it on the line. Overall a very fair result well adjudicated.

    Reply
  •  upthejumper
    upthejumper

    A few poor decisions and a couple of sloppy tries cost England the title. Tiny margins, small %'s. The score line flatters France more than it does England. Still, 221 points in the final three games - amazing rugby!

    Reply
  •  upthejumper
    upthejumper

    2nd try. Nope, Nakaitaci's hand scooped it back: https://youtu.be/zOpYoTatKnY?t=3m20s 3rd try. You've got to look at it again, Burrell and le Roux were shoulder to shoulder, in fact Burrell was just in front, and they dove on the ball together: https://youtu.be/zOpYoTatKnY?t=3m38s Brilliantly reffed by Nigel Owens.

    Reply
  •  demosys
    demosys

    At 3:35. The entire sequence is a joke: Burrel dives on Leroux but penalty against France ? Then HUGE obstruction from Lawes. Plisson cannot defend on Ben Youngs.

    Reply
  •  demosys
    demosys

    What about the Vunipola's try with a clear knock on?

    Reply
  • Something wrong with England if they fail to see the victory in gnat performance

    Reply

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England and France's Twickenham thriller not enough in dramatic title chase | RugbyDump