England Fall Flat Against France In 2020 Six Nations Opener
Kicking off on the 2 February, the third Six Nations 2020 match saw England and France go head to head. Following France's disappointing finish at the 2019 Guinness Six Nations, earning a mere 10 points to champion Wales' 23, they were eager to hit the ground running.
As the final whistle blew, the France vs England score was a sore point for fans; 24 to 17. Though England clawed back some dignity in the second half, their opening performance gave France the leg up they needed to break through England's previously iron-clad defence.
France Soar Ahead - The First Half
Fans lined Paris' Stade de France, eager to see two giants of rugby butt heads. England entered the pitch confidently, with Head Coach Eddie Jones boldly saying:
“It’s a new tournament and we’re excited. It was difficult to get over the final defeat, but we’ve reflected and we’re in a good position to start our campaign."
Only six minutes into the first half, Home Nation team France scored their first try, thanks to Vincent Rattez and Romain Ntamack. This initial blow seemed to unsettle England, unravelling their defence further. Following a penalty and another try, France were up by 17 points to zero.
England Make Up Ground - The Second Half
Ollivan scored France's third try, turning their 17 point lead into an eye-watering 24 point lead. It took England 58 minutes to score a single point, but Jonny May's try and Owen Farrell's subsequent conversion made it 24 to seven.
This gave the England side a burst of motivation, which quickly resulted in another try and conversion by the dream team, Jonny May and Owen Farrell. However, this minor resurgence wasn't enough to overcome France's soaring lead. The final score was 24 to 17.
What did former England players think?
Dylan Hartley, Former England Captain:
"It was a collective - everyone made errors today. From one to 15, guys were making errors and that's why we had such a poor performance. The best thing to do is restart, that's all you can do. If we eradicate personal errors, we're in that game."
Jeremy Guscott, Former England Centre:
"Eddie Jones must be fuming. You can't have that many entries into the opposition 22 and come away with zero. The tries England scored were literally flashes of brilliance from Jonny May."
Martin Johnson, Former England Captain:
"England needed to turn pressure into scores. You need more subtlety against a big, strong team like France because they can defend all day."
What happens next?
With four points, France are hot on the heels of initial leaders Wales, who are eager to defend their title. England trail behind with only one point, just shy of the last place spot currently being held by Italy.
Next for the French side is a challenging match against the Welsh giants. Wales previously dominated Italy on 1 February, with a score of 43-0.
England are next set to play Scotland. Both sides had disappointing starts to the tournament, with Scotland losing to Ireland following a score of 12-19. On Saturday 8 February, the two nations go head to head, with the Red Roses needing to replicate their 2019 Tokyo Rugby World Cup resilience to keep their hopes alive.
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