For rugby fans, the match between England and France on Saturday will be the most awaited. The only disappointment, however, would be the expanding injury list. The weekend game at Twickenham will decide if the injuries would have a role to play in helping France to avenge the defeat it suffered at the hands of the Englishmen in March this year. The last time the two teams had locked horns, England had managed to come out on top with a 26-18 victory at the same venue.
Since 2000, England and France have played 11 times, of which England has won 6 and France 5. The game on Saturday will offer an opportunity for France to get even with their old foes. England has had a superior home record as well winning 4 of the 5 games played at Twickenham, London. On the other hand, France had managed to defeat England once with a big margin of 31-6. The home advantage would certainly weigh in favor of England. Another factor that has the Frenchmen charged-up is that England had ended their unbeaten dream run after the World cup in the match played four months ago.
Brian Ashton’s preparation for the world cup seems to be moving along smoothly. His only cause for concern in the weekend game is the advantage France would gain since around eight of his players are still not certain of a place in the side due to injuries. Perhaps, this is why Ashton took a long while naming his 30-man squad for the weekend game. On the other hand, Bernard Laporte had announced the squad a long time ago in mid-June. Among the hopefuls for England are Simon Shaw, Dan Hipkiss, Andrew Sheridan and Andy Farrell, Nick Easter, Joe Worsley, Mark Regan and Steve Borthwick, while Nick Abendanon, Paul Sackey, Jamie Noon, Lewis Moody, James Haskell, Ben Kay and Matt Stevens have to put up a good show this weekend. At the same time, Laporte’s boys are looking fit and raring to go. Like Laporte said, ‘the players are in form and full of energy.’
It seems England has its task cut out. Laporte has ruled out any complacency in their game despite its lower importance compared to the side’s first Rugby World Cup match against Argentina in September. The Frenchmen are geared-up for payback, although centre Yannick Jauzion would not be playing the warm-up game due to a back injury.He would be replaced by Damien Traille. Keep your fingers crossed as the game on Saturday will be an absolute cruncher.