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France vs England: the experts' view
France is only one game away from their 9th Grand Slam. One former French player and two journalists from France and England give their views ahead of ‘Le Crunch’.
'Les Bleus usually loose their flair against the best rugby nations'. Didier Camberabero (pictured), France’s fly-half between 1982 and 1991, 36 caps.
The English would certainly take great pleasure in ruining French Grand Slam hopes on Saturday…Yet, I am having a hard time forecasting the outcome. As usual in the Crunch, intensity upfront will be the key, and domination in this sector could go either ways. I’m sure the English will limit their passing game, because they don’t want the French to get any fast break opportunities. England will be aware that France beat Wales thanks to two interceptions… As for Les Bleus, they usually loose their flair against the best rugby nations. This is a shame, because it is an attacking team…
'Changes come too late for England'. Nick Rostron-Pike journalist at TalkSport radio.
It’s bad news for England that Jonny Wilkinson is not playing. In my opinion, Toby Flood isn’t as good as Wilkinson for kicking or tackling. Anyway, it’s too late in the tournament to change the team. I think Jonny became the scapegoat for England’s disappointing performance during the tournament. But, let’s face it: the whole squad has played poorly. Ben Foden will replace Delon Armitage to bring more fluidity and Simon Shaw – who will probably be the best player in the team against France – will also make the team, but, once again, the changes come too late. The French team have played terrifically this year. They are exciting to watch, they have a great winger, great center and a great Number 10 with François Trinh-Duc. They are definitely the favourites.
'France have never lost a decisive since Jean Prat’s French XVth match against Wales…and that was in 1955'. Jérôme Prévôt, journalist at rugby weekly 'Midi Olympique'.
Jonny Wilkinson being on the bench is always good news for England’s opponents. However, France cannot rejoice too much with Toby Flood taking the Number 10 shirt. He was there for England’s big victory against France last year (39-10). But in my opinion the danger will come from Simon Shaw. He is definitely one of the best locks in the world. More than anyone else in the squad he will be the man to watch. He did not play against Scotland and he will probably now want to show off against France. On the French side, Mathieu Bastareaud is logically in the squad. He is soo talented, I really do not think he deserves the criticism from the ‘beautiful game’ advocates. I am confident of the outcome of the game: France have not lost a decisive since Jean Prat’s French XVth match against Wales…and that was in 1955.