France v England, Six Nations Sun 15:00
England face the team that knocked them out of last year’s Rugby World Cup on Sunday when they travel to Paris to take on France in the Six Nations at long odds with Betfred, although the away side will fancy their chances against Philippe Saint-André’s side who came through a tough, physical encounter with Ireland last week.
Stuart Lancaster’s men will be looking for a response to the defeat to Wales last time out, but there is no doubt that this is a tough test for England against a France side that are unbeaten in their two games so far.
With uncertainty over his future, Lancaster could certainly do with a positive result this weekend as victory in Paris would do his chances of securing the full-time job no harm at all.
South African coach Jake White has dropped out of the running for the main role at Twickenham, and it now appears to be a straight choice for the ERB between Lancaster and Nick Mallett.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s clash, he said: “France away is a benchmark, going to the Stade de France is one of the biggest tests in world rugby.”
“The set-piece is massive challenge. We must make sure we go with a front foot mentality. We’ve done lots of scrums this week.”
As for the team news for England this weekend, they are unchang
Once again Toby Flood has been overlooked for the game, with Leicester Tiger’s boss Matt O’Connor furious that the outside half will not feature, as well as another Tigers man Ben Youngs.
Owen Farrell retains his place at fly-half, despite the return of Charlie Hodgson who is on the bench.
Looking at how France are shaping up, they have dropped Morgan Parra and Francois Trinh-Duc for Sunday’s match after what they considered to be a disappointed home draw with Ireland last weekend.
The French don’t fail to win too often at the Stade de France and they will be determined to return to winning ways against England on Sunday.
Ahead of the game, coach Philippe Saint-André has called on his team to start well, saying: “In the first three games we have struggled to get out of our half in the first 20 minutes. The goal is to have a long kicking game to counter their aerial ping-pong and territory game.”
Overall, this is a game many expect France to win. England may have won their two previous away games in this year’s Six Nations campaign, but the hosts are unbeaten at home since 2008.
This one gets underway at 3pm on Sunday afternoon.