France may have destroyed England’s grand slam ambitions but Chris Robshaw insists they will have his team’s full support when they face Ireland.
Saturday’s climax to the Six Nations begins in Rome where England will be seeking to overwhelm Italy and strengthen their claim to the title in what has become a three-way shootout.
The focus will then be on Ireland’s visit to Paris – where they have prevailed just once since 1972 – with Robshaw and his team-mates glued to a match that will have decisive ramifications on their own fate.
If England win in Rome, the title will be decided by points difference with either Ireland or France – who clash at the Stade de France – also competing for the crown.
“For us Italy is a championship-deciding game and it’s very exciting,” said Robshaw. “We’ve got to control what we can with our own performance and then we’ll be like every other fan in the country cheering on the French.”
Six weeks ago England endured an agonising 26-24 defeat at the Stade de France, but have since posted impressive wins against Scotland, Ireland and Wales to propel them into title contention on the final day.
Had Les Blues not been blessed with kind bounces of the ball that led to two early tries and the individual brilliance of Gael Fickou, the Red Rose would have been playing for the grand slam at the Stadio Olimpico.
Fickou’s late try will forever haunt this England team and their head coach Stuart Lancaster, but Robshaw takes consolation from the resilience shown in the aftermath of such a gut-wrenching loss.
“The bounce of the ball went against us,” said Robshaw, the Harlequins and England captain
“It can be very cruel at times but then it can be brilliant for you as well. Unfortunately on that day it went against us.
“To concede a try within the first minute and then another shortly after from kicks is tough, but that’s the way it goes. We’ve reacted well.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position to win the Six Nations and we’ve learnt from what happened in Paris – look at our ability to close out the game against Ireland.
“The perception inside the camp is that Italy is going to be a very tough game.”
If the title is decided by points difference, Ireland have established a near-unassailable position as they have amassed 49 more than England.