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Sunday Aug 23, 2015

France convincing winners over England despite late comeback in Paris

France convincing winners over England despite late comeback in Paris
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Yoann Huget scored a brilliant try as France battered England, then shut up shop as the visitors came back into contention late in the game. Key substitutions gave England heart and direction, as they pulled the score back to 25-20, but it was too little too late.

England looked good at home last weekend but in Paris they were blown off the park by a more determined, and seemingly capable, French outfit that got the better up front, took their chances, and were marshalled by the old head of Frederic Michalak.

While England did launch a comeback late in the match, and at the final whistle had a chance of snatching an unlikely win, France were clearly the superior side on the day.

“We gave away penalties and our discipline was shocking,” said skipper Chris Robshaw. “Whether it was rust, or nerves, it wasn’t good enough. Credit to France, they put us under pressure and made us make mistakes.

“We can’t give teams like France and other quality sides head starts like we did. We’ll look long and hard at ourselves, because we let ourselves down in the first half. We played well in phases but you can’t wait for 40 minutes to do that.”

Not a whole lot should be read into those final ten minutes, and France will be pleased with their performance in front of their home crowd, following last week’s loss.

England coach Stuart Lancaster has some tough decisions to make soon after replacements, such Danny Cipriani, came off the bench and showed up those that started.

“The bench made a difference. It upped the energy levels and we scored some good tries. I won’t gloss over what went on before that, because it was too little too late,” he said.

“There are a few players who have given me food for thought, those guys who came on and gave us the energy we needed and made a difference. I need to have a sleep on this game and think about my final squad. We’re two weeks away from playing Ireland and four weeks away from Fiji in the World Cup and we’ll expect a reaction next time.”


42 Comments

  • stroudos
    11:03 AM 28/08/2015

    Thankfully it's now a moot point.

    Reply
  • drg
    10:35 PM 27/08/2015

    and Cips?

    Reply
  • drg
    10:34 PM 27/08/2015

    I agree with you regarding Clark. I did mention that "done his time" could be one way of viewing the whole scene, however you still have to look at it from his point of view, he was given a shit ban, served the shit ban then went back to the career which he is 'pretty good at' (In the sense that he is wearing an England shirt)... I do agree though, that video is horrific, to see the nature in what he did and how there is simply no extenuating circumstances (or some sort of crappy cobbled together reason) - Losing your head is one thing, but that didn't look like a heat of the moment snap at someone, that was something else far nastier.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    2:13 PM 27/08/2015

    Well, I agree with Steffon Armitage: https://twitter.com/Magicsteffo7/status/636882680605487104 Meanwhile, I'm delighted to see Calum Clark is excluded. Would have found it hard cheering England on with that reprobate in the side. A lot of people are not happy about Burgess. I'm thrilled. Especially with Slade potentially alongside him. I really thought that partnership had a real air of class about it. Disappointing for Burrell, who I really don't think has done much wrong for England, but there you go.

    Reply
  • drg
    11:21 AM 27/08/2015

    Well looks like Cipriani is out of the runnings. I'm really disappointed for him, he really looked to add something. He reminded me a bit of Mike Catts influence in 2003, the guy seemed to be sidelined, but he really showed up whenever was brought on. In my opinion, Cipriani has done better in many positions than some of his counterparts, so as Shrouds said, it begs the question why they bothered with him if they clearly hadn't created a space for him. I don't think he could have done any more. On the hooker role, it begs the question as to schooling and grass roots rugby... Did youngs et al, get by on their sheer size and weight? Hookers don't hook anymore, they're supported by two props... So really there is no excuse not to be able to throw..

    Reply
  • stroudos
    9:14 AM 27/08/2015

    Hartley is a recidivist and seems utterly incapable of learning from his mistakes. He polished off all the drinks in the last chance saloon and has been in the saloon's upstairs rooms with the hookers for some time now. (Please enjoy the lazy metaphor and feeble pun). You mentioned Clark, who many people would argue has "done his time" and should now be judged on merit. I'm fine with that in theory, but the punishment he was served was woefully insufficient; in my (ill-informed) opinion he should have been banned from all forms of rugby for life.

    Reply
  • 4:01 PM 26/08/2015

    No it doesn't say much of the english hookers. Which is the case. They should get their finger out and learn how to throw. Cowan dickie could be world class if he could throw. Same with Youngs, but I think Youngs duffs up the scrum because he is too small! Its good to have a front row roughly the same size (Lions 1997; England 2010 with shezza thompson and cole) Webber is too unfit for my liking. But he can throw... And maybe Hartley is the best hooker we've got... how bad is that. Because he is quite the thug.

    Reply
  • drg
    2:14 PM 26/08/2015

    Problem I have with DH, is that whilst I agree with you; it was for sod all (I mean technically it was a headbutt, but there are probably bigger head clashes in the scrums than that was), it was so stupid and mindless and unnecessary... It doesn't say much of the English set up if the best hooker in all of England (which is what you're saying when you hand him that shirt), is a complete non thinking twit.... Granted front rowers are better off not thinking too much..

    Reply
  • 12:45 PM 26/08/2015

    Once he's done his ban I think it's only fair he should be allowed a chance. Also to be honest, ok he's been a thug before but that recent ban was for sod all really, 1 month... Ok 2 weeks but not 4! Anyway they would have named the squad before he's back so he can only get in the RWC if there's an injury. (And obviously once he's done his "time" :D) But you never know, if England get through into the knockout stages, still with a crappy lineout I'm sure they'll find some excuse to bring Hartley in the 31 man squad.

    Reply
  • drg
    11:51 AM 26/08/2015

    I hear rumours of Dylan Hartley potentially rejoining..... I suppose you can only make a moral stand for so long..... when your pants really start to get pulled down I'd imagine it makes you question your tactics...

    Reply
  • 9:38 AM 26/08/2015

    Some great comments here :) No one said about the French targeting May though? Glad they did, everyone saw he can't a high ball. Even Lancaster decided to take him off to play Cipriani (instead of taking Brown off). Brown and Nowell played well. As did Cips. Imagine bringing Cips and Burgess on: Burgess can get through any defence and Cips is the guy who can put any player through any defence. Would have liked to see Steffon in there somehow but it's too late for all that now. But I would go for Clark instead of Haskell. He slows the ball down more and is the best counter rucker we've got. I thought Cole was lazy as f*ck. Hate seeing that. You see Marler sprinting back even after 50 mins, and Cole was just plodding around. Never noticed that before from him. Used to be a big Cole fan bit maybe he thought "Im in the squad why push myself?" Still... come on England, #Carrythemhome.

    Reply
  • jimmy23
    1:46 PM 25/08/2015

    As bad as that was to watch (from an England perspective), I don't know if it's worth getting hysterical over this. Baring in mind that at the very least, it has been 2 months since some of these guys have played a competitive game of rugby. But then again, same applies to a lot of the French players as well. I'm HOPING that it's just a case of rust and that the French were just a bit more on the ball. However, this was supposedly our best team. You can forgive being under the cosh for certain periods in a match but to be bullied like that for 70 mins straight is quite worrying. Lancaster has got a bit of a headache for Thursday considering none of the forwards have put their hands up and the lesser established backs all seemed to have performed quite well. Let's hope this has given them a good kick up the arse and spur them into action.

    Reply
  • oliver
    1:03 PM 25/08/2015

    thanks for the heads up. in my opinion those rules dont make any sense when the 2 countries are close geographically , like inside Europe. If it's another continent I can understand, but France and England??

    Reply
  • mise
    1:07 AM 25/08/2015

    @oliver: At least some other countries have v strong preferences for home grown, if not formal NZ style rules. Eg For Ireland (where I live), if you ain't in the squad before you go abroad, you won't get into it while abroad. (Bowe and Sexton were in the team before going to Wales and France: Mike Ross wasn't in the team for years while in England, even thou Ireland were really weak in tightheads, similarly with many others in other positions) (also Ireland were at their worst when the Irish players played in England - early 1990s) Oz also show a strong preference - eg honeybadger in Japan - But as a one off, I'd imagine SA would have been an asset, if brought in early - he's incredible.

    Reply
  • drg
    6:20 PM 24/08/2015

    More Lancasters words than mine...

    Reply
  • oliver
    4:46 PM 24/08/2015

    "a disastrous retrograde step" ? Please do explain. I mean, the guy was voted European player of the year in 2014, you'd think he would be an asset to any team. Also, what other country enforces the "no playing abroad" rule? The AB are the only ones I can think of.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    4:07 PM 24/08/2015

    I take your point, but people get paid to play for England so that "selected group" bit may be something of a grey area. I certainly wouldn't suddenly bring Armitage in at this stage, I meant maybe 6-12 months ago. The only time I remember actually seeing him play for England (when he was still at Irish), he had an absolute shocker, but that was a while ago and before he honed his craft with Toulon. Agree that playing any position surrounded by players of that calibre is a different proposition, but that's why I think Lancaster should have had a look at him earlier, last autumn's internationals for example.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    4:03 PM 24/08/2015

    Not quite a Bath fan. Just someone who despises the play-acting in football and can remember when diving in that sport was seen as the ridiculous charade it is. I reserve the same vitriol for Heinrich Brussow and Bryan Habana. Incidentally, I admire all of these players, including Huget, for their rugby.

    Reply
  • oliver
    1:29 PM 24/08/2015

    well well well what did Huget do to incur your wrath, I wonder.....Bath fan maybe?? ;-)

    Reply
  • s_conner
    1:26 PM 24/08/2015

    Agreed. Is the referee legally required to call 'Maul', or is this just something they tend to say? Cole can feel hard done by I think.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    12:33 PM 24/08/2015

    I'm going to put it down to training fatigue. Sounds like they've been getting a real beasting, including some hard altitude work. I'm not a fitness professional, but it does seem to me that pushing the fat boys too hard can sometimes be counter-productive. In actual fact, it's not just the stinkies that can suffer from over-training; I think I'm right in saying Ireland used not to make Brian O'Driscoll train for longer than 40 minutes in one session, because they identified that beyond that they got a diminishing return on the training effect. If my hunch is right, I just hope that the forwards especially get a bit of rest & recuperation while there's still time for it.

    Reply
  • 45678
    12:28 PM 24/08/2015

    Dan Cole shouldn't have been penalised. a French player picked the ball up in a ruck and was held up by an England player. DC was the 3rd player, so there was no maul formed and therefore no offside line. the referee got this one wrong as did the commentators

    Reply
  • 45678
    12:24 PM 24/08/2015

    I agree they didn't seem right mentally or physically. it was a hot night and they've probably over cooked the fitness before the game

    Reply
  • stroudos
    12:23 PM 24/08/2015

    Feels like time has run out for Lancaster and suddenly he has a lot of options without a clear idea of which is the best one to take. I'm talking about centres primarily. Burgess & Slade last week I though both played excellently, both individually and as a combination; bizarrely they looked like a settled unit! Burrell was one of England's best players in the 2nd France game and has really done very little wrong in all the games I've seen him play for England, so I feel it would be harsh on him if he somehow missed out. I hear though that Lancaster is most keen on having Brad Barritt at 12. This is a guy who the armchair fans (me included) tend to dismiss as one-dimensional, but who is incredibly reliable, and not just in defence. Then you have the option of Farrell at 12, or indeed Cipriani, who always seems capable of injecting that little bit of magic and seems to be more robust these days too. So that's about five blokes, (actually six including Twelvetrees) vying for the inside centre spot and I'm concerned that Lancaster and his coaching team don't really seem to have a handle on who gets the nod... As far as I can tell, Joseph is the only outside centre in the mix for final selection. I rate him very highly, but it seems odd to depend on him so completely, when Slade had such a good game last week. It sounds like Cipriani and Slade are not likely to get a look-in, so I'm confused as to why they were even used in the France games.

    Reply
  • 45678
    12:23 PM 24/08/2015

    I think both will be selected, with burrell and 36 cut I don't see the point of picking cipriani to start. he is an impact player who can cover 3/4 positions, but he isn't the best of any in the squad

    Reply
  • 45678
    12:20 PM 24/08/2015

    I don't think panic should set in. this should help us refocus and take away some of the unnecessary expectation. supporters are becoming as hysterical as the UK media in building up the team as world beaters and knocking them down in the same breath things to take away from Saturday; England finished stronger so the fitness and tiredness so apparent for 70 minutes may be cobwebs / over training / heat fatigue (it was 30 degrees in the UK, so Paris must have been hot also) The referee - Jaco Peyper is officiating the opening game. he clearly didn't want a contest at the breakdown and supported the attacking team. this worked for england in the last 10. his scrum interpretations were reactive rather than accurate Cipriani played well when he came on, but 15 minutes in a broken up game with tired bodies, makes him an impact player, not a starter. Jamie George should start at hooker. Tom Youngs was combative and tackled his heart out, but I'd expect any international player to make 10+ tackles in a game. lineout and scrum are more important When Ben Morgan plays well, so do England. he needs to be in the side Haskell is not Irish and the English team do not use the choke tackle as a general tactic. he therefore goes far too high in the tackle. this doesn't work with powerful runners like picamoles and basteuraud Parling should start with one of lawes / attwood / launchbury. we need a distinguished lineout target paired with a bruiser, not 2 bruisers

    Reply
  • vladimir
    9:39 AM 24/08/2015

    Is it me or have England's forwards gotten weaker and weaker years after years, if we compare with four years ago? They used to get a strong grip on the game and gain a lot of momentum.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    9:12 AM 24/08/2015

    Agree with your analysis. Still don't think a high tackle on Huget should really be classed as foul play at all, but yes Vunipola dodged a bullet there; had it been on any other player I think a yellow card would've been appropriate. On side note 3, I also agree. I also don't see how this arrangement is permissible when it clearly contravenes article 149b of the Treaty if Rome, covering the right to free movement of people in the European Union, particularly for employment reasons. There must be something about S Armitage that bothers Lancaster, maybe an attitude or something, for him to have refused to trigger that "exceptional circumstance" clause. Abendanon would be another player I'd like England to have at their disposal, but would probably select Browny ahead of him, and we have Watson and Goode available for full back too. But Armitage offers skills at open side that England need; I think I'd be comfortable with the idea of playing against Pocock, Hooper, Warburton et Al with Armitage in the side. Anyway, too late for all that now.....

    Reply
  • stroudos
    8:59 AM 24/08/2015

    I would not support a site like that. Sounds too much like football, where too much time is spent analysing and criticising the refs and managers constantly trying to shift the blame from their own teams' performances. Having said that, I think sareferees.com used to have a section that covered elite refs' performances, not the stats version you're talking about but they had quite interesting insight into specific decisions. Can't see it on there at the moment, but funnily enough one thing did jump out at me- referee of the month, most recently awarded to Jaco Peyper.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    8:48 AM 24/08/2015

    Sorry DrG, can't agree with your opening sentence. There's one warm-up match and just a few weeks training between now and the World Cup. Starting team should all be in ink now; I'd bet New Zealand have known theirs for a while. I hope that behind the scenes Lancaster is a lot more certain and that he's just being diplomatic or doing a Mourinho in public.

    Reply
  • oliver
    8:18 AM 24/08/2015

    Finally a glimmer of hope for us Frenchies. But that result might actually be good for both teams: England needed a kick in the ass I believe and Les Bleus desperately needed to gain confidence. Anyways remember last week when I said England should beware of discipline problems? Exactly what happened, and if a card had been shown for that high tackle on Huget, the end of the game would have been very different. Sidenote 1: the Stade de France's pitch is a disgrace, so tired of seeing that. Sidenote 2: gotta give it to Michalak, who was (justly) criticized lately. He was real convincing in that game and he's about to play his 3rd world cup, quite a career if you ask me. Sidenote 3: I really don't understand what stops England from selecting Steffon Armitage... What the hell does it matter if he plays abroad?? Chabal was in the French squad when he used to play for Sale and Mitchell and Giteau have been selected by the Wallabies, so??

    Reply
  • guy
    7:30 AM 24/08/2015

    First of all congratulations on the win. I'm not in denial Frenchie. I watched it from a neutral perspective (neither for France nor England) although I am rooting for the Poms since everyone else seems to like to see them loose and I don't think the current crop of players and the coach deserve that. I don't think France showed anything but a strong forward performance. The backs created very little. England lost (I believe) more than half of their lineouts and the scrum was a mess. Off course also due to a good French performance but they were partly architects of their own downfall. France can go a long way in the WC. Hell, they showed that 4 years ago. But again I don't think it will be because they play very well, like the French teams of old used to do.

    Reply
  • 2:05 AM 24/08/2015

    (The implied question being, "anyone know of such a website?")

    Reply
  • 2:04 AM 24/08/2015

    A quick Wikipedia check states Peyper has refereed a few test matches where the away side won, but I think your statement brings up a good questiom - we can (usually) pretty easily access player stats, test match records, etc., but I'm unaware of a site that keeps international "referee stats" or "referee records"...

    Reply
  • drg
    1:29 AM 24/08/2015

    There is still a bit of time. In the interview with Lancaster the reporter asked him whether some of the names which were inked in are now a little (um faded?) less inked in, (can't remember the wording), Lancaster confirmed that, but from his sounding; at least in a diplomatic interview way, it did still sound like he hadn't written anyone off yet. But, the danger is Billy showed how dangerous he can be when his head is either not in it, or he is being outplayed. It would be interesting if these warm up matches could have an unlimited bench with rolling subs... I know it would make for awkward watching and probably a bit of a ridiculous moment, but I almost feel it would be worth playing Billy again to see how he performs with his head screwed on, but you also don't want to give away game time from your first choice by assuming he is so good he doesn't need the warm up matches..

    Reply
  • stroudos
    10:51 PM 23/08/2015

    My main thought on watching this is Billy Vunipola seems to have played himself out of the team; harsh to pick in one individual but he single-handedly gave away nine points, which is not acceptable. The first (line out encroachment) was just moronic, even more so than Dan Cole's. Second I suppose was equally stupid especially as Burrell had already made the tackle, however I'm not convinced trying to take Yoann Huget's head off should actually be deemed foul play. Third I think was a mistake by the red. 36 made the tackle, Vunipola was first man at the ruck and jackalled very effectively, on his feet the whole time. At the end, a Number 8 being dumped on his arse by a wing is never a good look. Having said that Huget's a strong mother isn't he. And what a line he hit for his try. But I digress, Billy V (who I usually like) had a shocker in this game.

    Reply
  • frenchie
    10:45 PM 23/08/2015

    @Guy: you're on denial mate. France put a lot of pressure on England and England watched them play for 70 minutes. England finished on a high and show a clean rugby but don't underestimate the French performance as you might be in for a big disappointment... France has beaten England fair and square; full stop.

    Reply
  • guy
    9:56 PM 23/08/2015

    I was there. During warm up I got the feeling England were not completely focussed. I few dropped balls etc. Maybe they are a bit overtrained at this stage and I guess the psychological strain must be quite severe by now. I don't think overall France were that good although the win was deserved beyond any doubt. Their forwards won them the game for sure but a lot of points and posession were handed to them on a plate by the England team. From an English perspective I would call this the right moment for one last lousy game.

    Reply
  • drg
    8:52 PM 23/08/2015

    Mr T. - Gold!

    Reply
  • facepalm
    8:37 PM 23/08/2015

    9) Parra 10) Trinh-Duc 11) Nakaitaci 12) Fofana 13) Mr. T 14) Huget 15) Dulin France's best backline?

    Reply
  • facepalm
    8:28 PM 23/08/2015

    Realistically, nothing more could have been asked of Slade or Cipriani in these past two games. So if they aren't picked for the squad, the only deduction that can be made is that they were write offs from the start. So what on earth would be the point in giving them game time if they had no hope of ever being picked. Surely they have to be selected?!

    Reply
  • drg
    7:59 PM 23/08/2015

    Really nice to see Cipriani make an impact. I've always had an appreciation for him.. he got a bit ahead of himself when he first came on the scene, but then I felt he was given a raw deal, he came onto the scene whilst England was still hunting for their next Jonny Wilkinson and naturally as a fresh faced 'kid' he wasn't able to live up to the name of a well seasoned world best and the UK media seemed to screw him at every opportunity. I feel he has really shown his commitment to the game and hasn't commanded any limelight. His post match interviews (although like most it's a bit sort of cue card answers) seem to be very modest and he actually seems scared to over inflate himself ahead of showing what he can actually do. On the England side of things, this is a bit worrying, this was their 'better' team than last week and it didn't work. I don't know whether it just so happened France are better in some places, or England were rusty in those places, but certainly worrying times and head scratching times for Mr Lancaster... ...On the subject of Lancaster - what a bloody likeable bloke, his post match interviews are brilliant, he is pleasant, calm, collected and doesn't snap at reporters which although may ask stupid questions, are only doing their jobs. As for France, they seemed to play with a lot of brute force and determination. Not sure if they're going to be the same bunch next time they play.. I suppose it depends on the wind direction, humidity and alignment of the planets... amongst many other variables! - But good show this week!

    Reply


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