Sporting Insights on the 2013 Rugby Six Nations by Sportingindex.com
England can take another significant step to securing a first Grand Slam since 2003 when they welcome France to Twickenham on Saturday.
London, UK -- These two huge rugby nations’ fortunes couldn’t have started any more differently this year with France staring down the barrel of the wooden spoon award as they sit rock bottom of the championship table. ‘Le Crunch’ is always a standout fixture in this Northern Hemisphere tournament and it promises to be far more competitive than the table suggests.
France have so far been unable to build on their three autumn international wins and coach Philippe Saint-Andre is really feeling the pressure across the channel.
Fly-half Frederic Michalak issued a rallying call this week to his international teammates for them to show some fighting spirit when they arrive in London in the hope of spoiling Stuart Lancaster’s party. With the title all but done for this year, the French would love nothing else but to prevent a Grand Slam triumph for their old rivals.
England have showed both facets of their improving game across the two opening matches. First they dominated Scotland with quick ball through the backs, before grinding out a 12-6 victory in Dublin where Owen Farrell’s kicking proved the difference.
Joel Tomkins, Will Fraser and Elliot Daly have all been called up as injury cover since the last international. The French have also made changes in personnel and the experienced Vincent Clerc has been recalled after recovering from an injury, while uncapped back-row Antonie Claassen joins the squad, alongside lock Christophe Samson, flanker Yannick Nyanga and prop Thomas Domingo.
England secured a thrilling 24-22 victory in Paris last year to make it two consecutive Six Nations wins over France. On Les Bleus’ most recent visit to London they left without scoring a try in a 17-9 loss. That result made it three Six Nations games on the spin that France have lost at Twickenham. England will desperately want to build on that impressive record on Saturday as they have never won the Six Nations when losing at rugby’s HQ to France.
The current head-to-head record between the two nations stands at 37 victories to 52 defeats in England’s favour; while there have been seven draws. The average winning margin in England’s past four internationals against France is five points. There have also been eight tries ran over in the previous two England versus France matches. England’s only home game so far in the 2013 Six Nations produced four tries and the game had a total of six.
Scotland are second in the table following their emphatic 34-10 win over Italy. They face Ireland next after a 14-32 loss last year which broke the trend of tight games. The average winning margin before that 18 point win was just 3.33 from three matches. Scotland’s win against the Italians ensured that they are the leading scorers in the 2013 competition with 52 points, compared to England’s 50.
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