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England meets France with ‘fierce’ physicality in Six Nations playoff

“We know the crowd will be loud, but we’re going to enjoy it. Far from intimidating us, it will give us the advantage of wanting it more.”

England No8 Poppy Cleall felt the full force of French physicality in last season's Twickenham Stoop clash
England No8 Poppy Cleall felt the full force of French physicality in last season’s Twickenham Stoop clash

England are on orders to meet France with “fierce” physicality as the two giants of women’s rugby clash in tonight’s Grand Slam decider.

Tickets for the Six Nations Showdown in Bayonne between two unbeaten teams, numbered one and three in the world, sold out more than a month ago.

England have won their last 22 Tests, have not lost in the Six Nations since 2018 and failed to surpass 50 points just once in eight games this season.

But France gave them all sorts of problems last season, especially during the scrum period, and England needed an ironclad defense to come out on top.

Enter Louis Deacon as the new striker coach and the former Leicester and England suspension has wasted no time in sharpening it.

“He pushed the standards and made sure we have the right attitude when we go into mauls and scrums,” said World Player of the Year Zoe Aldcroft.







Zoe Aldcroft returned from injury in England’s win against Ireland six days ago
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Picture:

AFP via Getty Images)

“He wants us to be absolutely wild out there, penetrating her and beating her physicality. The rivalry between England and France is fierce. No love is lost on the pitch.”

In the first four rounds, each nation with maximum points won, barely conceding a try. England scored 42 of them, France 20.

“We talk about what that ‘wild’ mindset looks like every week,” Aldcroft added. “How we want to think about it. How it looks and sounds on the pitch.







England coaches Louis Deacon and Simon Middleton watch England train in France this week
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The RFU Collection via Getty Ima)

“We’re doing what we call physical pressing exercises, where we have to react and make good decisions in the heat when we’re severely exhausted.

“All of this work is to prepare us for a day like this when everything is at stake. Feel good when it’s uncomfortable.”

With more than a 17th title and 15th Grand Slam in 26 tournaments at stake for the Red Roses, it’s a chance to strike a blow ahead of the World Cup in New Zealand.







World Player of the Year Aldcroft brings the game to France in last year’s 10-6 win over England
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Picture:

The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

The two nations will be drawn in Pool C and meet in Whangarei on October 15.

“France in France is probably the toughest game we can play in world rugby right now,” admitted team boss Simon Middleton.

A win at the Stade Jean Dauger would see French leapfrog champions New Zealand ranked No. 2.







Emily Scarratt scored the winning penalty against France 12 months ago
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Picture:

The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Expecting a feverish atmosphere, England arrived in Bayonne, capital of the French Basque country, five days early to give themselves ample time to acclimatise.

“We know the crowd will be loud, but we’re going to enjoy it,” Aldcroft warned. “Far from intimidating us, it will give us the advantage of wanting it more.”

England: Rowlands; Thompson, Scarratt (Captain), Aitchison, Breach; Harrison, Infant; Cornborough, Davies, Bern, Aldcroft, Ward, Matthews, Packer, Cleall.

Substitute: Cokayne, Botterman, Muir, Galligan, Beckett, Kabeya, Hunt, Kildunne.

France: Jacket; Boujard, Filopon, Vernier, M. Menager; Drouin, Sansus; Deshayes, Sochat, Joyeux, Fall, Forlani, Ferer, Hermet (Captain), R. Menager.

Substitute: Touye, Lindelhauf, Brosseau, Annery, Gros, Chambon, Tremouliere, Boulard.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/england-out-hit-france-savage-26837094 England meets France with 'fierce' physicality in Six Nations playoff

Fry Electronics Team

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