England surrendered the Six Nations crown to Ireland after a 22-16 defeat to France in Paris on Saturday ended their hopes of a third successive title.
Ireland are officially the champions following their thrilling victory over Scotland and France’s subsequent win over England in Paris. But you get nothing at the start of the game next week at Twickenham, you have to start all over again and win it and these players will try to do that.
“We did not learn quickly enough. Why?”
“Any team that is developing, as we are, goes through tough periods where the game does not love you”. That was disappointing. We have to understand discipline is hugely important at this level. Jacques Brunel called it out as a clear weakness, an area France had made a decision to target, just as Scotland did two weeks ago.
“The biggest problem of all was the huge penalty count against England: 16 in total”.
“I wanted the team to be close to the best during the tournament”, France coach Jacques Brunel said. There are some pretty exhausted bodies there, I think Scotland made 190 tackles and we made 135 – that suggests that there was a fair bit of collision stuff out there, and it was very hard work post-tackle as well.
“The form and approach of George Ford is the biggest worry of all and for the second game in a row he was substituted off and Owen Farrell moved to No 10”.
On the negatives – England failed to commit men to the breakdown with sufficient numbers or speed in attack, leading to players becoming isolated and penalties or turnovers being conceded. Eddie Jones’s honeymoon is over, he is about to experience the other side of being the England coach.
Referee Jaco Peyper awarded a penalty try, sin-binned Watson, and France had rallied from 9-3 down.
The defence wasn’t as formidable as one would expect from Jones’ England, penalties were equally as rife in attempts to contest the French ruck as to win England’s own.
France also lost their first three line-outs as both sides struggled for any kind of ascendancy.
“Jonathan Joseph does a good job of presenting a particular picture but I don’t think, if you go into those wide channels, it’s as effective as the picture might appear”.
Machenaud eventually got France on the scoreboard with a 25th minute penalty, but Farrell responded nearly immediately.
England full-back Anthony Watson was shown a yellow card in the 49th minute for a high tackle on Benjamin Fall which denied the France wing a try-scoring opportunity.
Number eight Nathan Hughes was carried off the pitch with a leg injury and was replaced by Sam Simmonds as Machenaud converted his first penalty attempt, only for Farrell to restore a six-point advantage as France were penalised for collapsing a maul.
France had the last word in a frantic final five minutes, however, replacement Lionel Beauxis kicking a penalty to ensure Irish eyes were smiling.