Saturday, 19 March 2016

France v England - Preview

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England have made two changes to the side that beat Wales with scrum-half Danny Care and prop Mako Vunipola coming into the side.

They take the places of Ben Youngs and Joe Marler, who both move to the bench.

France coach Guy Noves has also made two changes - both in the back row.

Loann Goujon replaces Yacouba Camara at number eight, while Bernard Le Roux makes his first appearance of this Six Nations in place of Wenceslas Lauret.

France head coach Guy Noves: "We need to bring the freshness in the team for Saturday's game.

"I believe in our team. I am sure that our team can take on great challenges.

"I believe our team can compete with the power of the English. This team is young, but we give them our confidence."

England head coach Eddie Jones: "While we are pleased to have already won the championship we don't want to let our foot off the gas.

"The objective has always been to win every game, to be the most dominant team in Europe, so it's been very important for us to approach this week with the same level of intensity we have shown in previous weeks.

"I'm pleased with how we have prepared and with the focus the squad have shown.

"You can't underestimate any team in Test match rugby. France are a dangerous side but we go to Paris full of confidence and a hunger to get the win."

England's only victory at the Stade de France since 2008 was 24-22 in 2012.

The last five Test matches between France and England have all been won by the home side.

France have stopped an opponent from claiming a Grand Slam on four previous occasions, beating England, Wales and Ireland in Paris in 1954, 1965 and 1982 respectively, and Wales in Cardiff in 1988.

They have finished in the bottom half of the table in the last four Six Nations (4th, 6th, 4th, 4th).

They are attempting to win a Grand Slam for the 13th time and for the first time since 2003.

England are bidding to become only the third side to win a Six Nations Grand Slam after playing three of their games away from home - following Wales in 2005 and Ireland in 2009.

They have a poor recent record in matches in which they could have won a Grand Slam, winning only one of their last six opportunities.

France
5-Scott Spedding, 14-Wesley Fofana, 13-Gael Fickou, 12-Maxime Mermoz, 11-Virimi Vakatawa, 10-Francois Trinh-Duc, 9-Maxime Machenaud; 1-Jefferson Poirot, 2-Guilhem Guirado (captain), 3-Rabah Slimani, 4-Alexandre Flanquart, 5-Yoann Maestri, 6-Damien Chouly, 7-Bernard Le Roux, 8-Loann Goujon
Replacements: 16-Camille Chat, 17-Uini Atonio, 18-Xavier Chiocci, 19-Paul Jedrasiak, 20-Wenceslas Lauret, 21-Sebastien Bezy, 22-Jules Plisson, 23-Maxime Medard

England
15-Mike Brown, 14-Anthony Watson, 13-Jonathan Joseph, 12-Owen Farrell, 11-Jack Nowell,10-George Ford, 9-Danny Care; 1-Mako Vunipola, 2-Dylan Hartley (captain), 3-Dan Cole, 4-Maro Itoje, 5-George Kruis, 6-Chris Robshaw, 7-James Haskell, 8-Billy Vunipola
Replacements: 16-Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17-Joe Marler, 18-Kieran Brookes, 19-Joe Launchbury, 20-Jack Clifford, 21-Ben Youngs, 22-Manu Tuilagi, 23-Elliot Daly.


MATCH OFFICIALS
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (IRFU) & Leighton Hodges (WRU)
TMO: Ben Skeen (NZR)


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