By Kath 28/3/04
March 28 2004
England v France 27/3/04 - Match Review! What a fitting end to the Royal Bank of Scotland Six Nations competition. Well done to France crowned Six Nations Champions and Grand Slam Winners.
France v England Match Review
Congratulations to France - RBS Six Nations Champions 2004
Well what a fitting way to end the RBS Six Nations championship.
We asked the question many times, which French team will turn up? Well that wonderfully skilled, talented and to coin a certain Mr. Barnes's phrase - The Mesmeric French! - Yes they turned up and How!
For the first twenty minutes of this match it was like watching two Goliaths slugging it out in defence, to be fair to England they raised their game compared to past performances in this year's six nations championship. Both team's defenses were fantastic but the French on the night far, far superior.
In fact the French were superior full stop. England had moments and flashes of the old guard but not much to write home about! However, Mike Catt coming on in the second half, again for me made a difference to the play and his visionary pass to Cohen for his try was just sheer class. Olly Barkley played well especially under the pressure of this showdown match however, I felt on one or two occasions his passes were just that fraction too slow. At this level of rugby most teams and in particular the French are up on the fly-half player very fast but Olly will improve and I hope he will now be a regular with the squad.
Turnovers cost England dear in the first half and they could not get out of their own area, the few times they did the ball would be turned again. The 80,000 capacity crowd in the Stade de France baying for the English blood could be heard each time.
England - back to the drawing board and a big re-group session is on the cards for them now! To my mind some of the England players are no longer hungry for the WIN! - I know people won't agree with me but that is my gut feeling on this. I also say again we miss Jonny Wilkinson and Martin Johnson - nothing we can do about Martin he has made his decision but Jonny needs to get fit again. This will not help the summer tour of course as it is already rumoured that Jonny will not make fitness for the summer tour.
One final comment I do want to give credit to the previous world champions Australia - you have to admire the way they stayed at the top and fought off contenders for their crown with such passion and strength for years. Yes England are No1 in the world, yes they have won the Rugby World Cup 2003 but they have not been able to defend that status, regardless of how much player strength in depth we talk about . We are 3rd Rate in the Six Nations and as Sir Clive Woodward has said "League Tables don't lie"!
Basic Match Facts:-
2mins in England awarded penalty Harinordoquy offside - Barkley just short of his range misses.
18mins France awarded penalty for the scrum going up - Yachvili (Man of the Match) - takes the 3Points.
23mins Harinordoquy Try in the corner taken really well from a high kick to the corner by Yachvili - However, he misses the conversion.
30mins France awarded penalty - 3more points by Yachvili
34mins Ben Cohen not rolling away and yet another penalty to France - Yachvili 3 Points.
36mins Finally England get a penalty and - this time Barkley slots it over to get England on the score board.
38mins Yachvili now running riot - takes the ball from the scrum and runs down the blindside for a try and he also converts
Half Time: France 21 v England 3
47mins Mike Catt comes on for Will Greenwood - England also awarded penalty - Barkley slots the ball over.
50mins Penalty to France - Yachvili 3points
52min Cohen Try from Mike Catt's long pass - Barkley fails again to convert.
70mins Penalty to England at the line-out - Barkley slots it over.
74min Josh Lewsey Try and Barkley converts - England now within three points but France winding the clock down.
Full time: France 24 v England 21