England V France
Le Crunch is coming, and this for me could well be one of the games of the tournament. England were sensational last weekend and, in my opinion, played better than in their Grand Slam run in 2016. They closed Ireland down, thwarted their game plans, and capitalised on their mistakes, just like every top team should. France did the same for only 40 minutes, but both sides have a very good game plan going into this fixutre, the question is who can perfect theirs and maintain it for the longest to bag a crucial win?
Chris Ashton makes his first Six Nations start since 2013, Mathieu Bastareaud returns to the French set up, Courtney Lawes fills in for the injured Maro Itoje, and Yoann Huget retains his place despite last weekend’s howler. Is it just me who feels a classic coming on? The names in these team sheets take me back to some of the best matches between these two in the last five years. Who can forget the 55-35 showdown at Twickenham on Super Saturday, and who could forget last years encounter that gifted the title to Ireland? These two teams have a rivalry that is truly entertaining and as much as France had a horror show last weekend, they’ve got a point to prove and there’s probably a lot of Scots and Welsh fans praying they pull a big win out of the bag.
France could be in for a rough tournament if they’re not careful. Two consecutive losses, and they’re staring a wooden spoon in the face with Italy; how important that losing bonus will become should they lose this weekend. And Jacques Brunel has built a monstrous side, yet I can’t see this result going any way in France’s favour. England were ruthless and just too strong for Ireland, and if that’s how they were against the second best team in the world then what will they be like against a struggling French side? For England fans, they’re probably not asking if they’ll win, but by how much will they win. Don’t expect them running away with though, then again I said they would struggle in Dublin…