ENGLAND face an examination of their “manhood” when they clash with France in Paris later today.
Head coach Eddie Jones has outlined what it will take to revive the NatWest Six Nations champions’ title defence following a 25-13 defeat at Murrayfield that has placed Ireland in the driving seat.
“We have to be brutal against the French. You know every time you play France it’s a test of your manhood,” said Jones.
“You hear those old stories from club rugby when at the kick-off they deliberately kick it into touch because they want to scrum you.
“It’s not like that now but there are still areas of their game that decide how much energy they have got, so we have got to beat them in those areas – on the gainline and in the scrum.
“It’s an important game for us to see how we respond from the loss against Scotland. It’s the first time we have had the team together following a loss.
We have to be brutal against the French. You know every time you play France it’s a test of your manhood,Eddie Jones
“After a loss you are always a little bit more emotional – that’s the way life is. England and France is one of the more traditional rivalries. France are the European version of South Africa – they are big, physical and they want to hurt you.”
Ireland could win the title by Saturday evening, impressing upon England the need to secure a try-scoring bonus-point from their Stade de France.
“It’s a Test match, we want to win it and that’s our first priority,” Jones said.
“If we’re in a position where we need to push on for a bonus point we will do that, we do that in every Test match.”
Outside centre Ben Te’o has promised “fireworks” in the penultimate round of the 2018 Championship.
“There’s a lot of history behind this fixture, but first and foremost we’re looking at where we are in this competition and what this game means to us in terms of trying to win this competition,” he said.
“We’re two physical teams across the water from each other, so obviously there are going to be fireworks.
“There’s a fierce rivalry and there have been plenty of great games. We’re two physical teams so I’m sure the fans can’t wait to see how it will play out.”
Francois Trinh-Duc insists the success of France’s entire Six Nations campaign hinges on the outcome of today’s clash with England.
Les Blues endured a torrid 11 months until their 34-17 victory over Italy a fortnight ago, failing to produce a single win and changing coach in the wake of a dismal autumn that saw them draw with Japan and lose to New Zealand and South Africa.
Yet all of that will be washed away if they are able to topple Jones’s England at the Stade de France, rescuing an otherwise disappointing tournament.
“We train hard all year, all season to play in this match. ‘Le Crunch’ is the pinnacle of the Six Nations for us,” said Trinh-Duc.
“I’m very happy and very satisfied. We’re expecting a great match. The English will want to make up for their defeat to Scotland.
“It will be hard and rough, but we have qualities that we need to show.
“In rugby terms they play better than us.
“But if we stop them playing, work hard at the break-down, be aggressive in defence like Scotland were, then we can make it difficult for them to impose their gameplan.”
While Jones has masterminded 24 wins from 26 Tests as England head coach, France have registered only eight wins in 24 matches and replaced Guy Noves with Jacques Brunel.
“I hope there’s no fear of being thrashed because that’s not a very positive attitude to have,” said Brunel.
“But there is a bit of fear of not being at the level we need to be at to compete (this weekend), which does create a bit of stress ahead of the match.”