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Rugby - 01. February 2020.

Six Nations Rugby-England Vs France Preview

There will be no easing into the 2020 Women’s Six Nations for France or England, with the two heavyweights going toe to toe in their first match of the Championship on Sunday.



The two teams have shared the last four Championships between them, with England the current holders, having tasted Grand Slam success in 2019.

Annick Hayraud and her side will be looking for revenge after the Red Roses claimed their first win on French soil since 2012 with a 20-10 victory last autumn.

It’s not often that the first match of a Championship can decide the overall winner, but both sides will know the importance of the match in Pau, with these two countries winning the trophy in 23 out of the previous 26 seasons.

WHAT THEY SAID


England head coach Simon Middleton: “It’s a huge game in the context of world rugby, the women’s game and the competition.

“But what we have talked about is regardless of the outcome of the game there are still four teams for us to play.

“Is there a more challenging place to go and play? Certainly not when there are 15,000 to 17,000 people in the stadium and the French know how to put a game on.

“Until you have been in that environment it’s difficult to describe to the girls who haven’t played in there.

“It will be a great experience for those girls, though. The ones that have been there are very good at sharing that experience, but they must enjoy and embrace it.

“If you want to play at the top of the game those are the places you want to be playing in.”

France head coach Annick Hayraud: “There are some positions where we had big discussions because there is a lot of competition in this France team, for example in the second row where Safi N’Diaye will be on the bench.

“We have to make choices and find the best partnerships. We have 30-35 players who would be able to start this game against England.

“That’s good for us to have such a rich choice of options, it’s healthy competition for the players and allows us to work in the best possible conditions.”

KEY BATTLE – PAULINE BOURDON V KATY DALEY-MCLEAN




With the stakes riding high right from the first whistle this weekend, the clash between these two superstars could prove pivotal in who emerges victorious.

There are not many more experienced than Daley-Mclean, with over 100 international appearances to her name and over 500 points for the Red Roses, there aren’t many better in the world in her position.

Up against her in the fly-half position in Pau will be the precocious talent that is Pauline Bourdon. The 24-year-old AS Bayonne star usually operates at scrum-half but will step into the No.10 role for this one and it will be up to her to make France tick.

KEY STATS


England’s last three Six Nations defeats have all come at the hands of France, with no other side beating the Red Roses since Ireland beat them 11-8 in February 2015.

Jess Breach will start in Pau looking to add to her remarkable Six Nations try-scoring form, with the Harlequins wing scoring nine in last year’s Championship.

France head into this one off the back of their worst run of form for over five years, with the 2018 Grand Slam winners losing three of their last five matches.

THE TEAMS


France: Tremouliere; Boujard, Boudaud, Vernier, Banet; Bourdon, Sansus; Arricastre, Sochat, Deshaye, Forlani, Fall, Ferer, Hermet (c), R Menager.

Replacements: Thomas, Traore, Joyeux, N'Diaye, Annery, Peyronnet, Konde, M Menager.

England: McKenna; Dow, Scarratt (vc), Harrison, Breach; Daley-McLean, Hunt; Botterman, Cokayne, Brown, P Cleall, Aldcroft, Beckett, Fleetwood, Hunter (c).

Replacements: Davies, Cornborough, Bern, Millar-Mills, Harper, Riley, Reed, Scott.

 

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