Saturday, February 01, 2014

France snatch victory from England in Six Nations thriller in Paris

France started and finished well as they snatched a dramatic 26-24 victory against England after trailing with just minutes remaining in Paris. Young Gael Fickou came on to replace battering ram Mathieu Bastareaud and scored the decisive try at the death.

England appeared to have a famous away victory in the bag before things slipped with minutes to go, and a defensive lapse, combined with French flair, saw them leave Paris with little more than pride in a strong performance.

France got off to the perfect start when Yoann Huget touched down after just 30 seconds. He scored again on 17 minutes, before a Mike Brown try game England something to fight for, then a brilliant bit of play by Billy Vunipola set up their second try.

Trailing with just three minutes left, France put together a superb passage of play that eventually led to replacement hooker Dimitri Szarzewski setting up replacement centre Fickou. Scores were tied, and the easiest of conversions gave France the lead, and with time almost up, the win.

England coach Stuart Lancaster praised the character of his players though. "I thought the boys showed incredible character, resilience and a lot of skill to put ourselves in a position to win it.

"It was a great performance in lots of ways. We're very proud. Once we get over the initial disappointment we'll take a huge amount of positives from the game."

French coach Philippe Saint Andre said that it was anything but a complete French performance.

"We were the first and the last to shoot but we suffered physically in the second half, we missed a lot of tackles. There's a lot of work to do still but what we'll have to remember is the victory, the smiles on the players' face after the game. It's a great sign for the season 2014," he said.

Full extended highlights have now been added below. Thoughts on the thriller?

Posted by Rugbydump at 8:07 pm | View Comments (52)

Posted in Six Nations 2014

Viewing 52 comments

dave February 01, 2014 8:32 pm

so tough for an england fan...

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Canadian content February 01, 2014 9:41 pm

Surprised no one has mentioned it, but I thought Care's drop goal was a poor decision. They already had a penalty within the 22m not too wide of the posts. Farrell would hit that easily. He knew they had the advantage, why not push for the try, or maybe at least a crossfield chip or something? The penalty was pretty much a sure thing, they score a try and the game would have been tied?

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matt February 02, 2014 7:59 pm

Yer but Danny Care is an arrogant, self-centred shit, he doesn't get his name in print as much if he lets Farrell do the job.

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DrG February 02, 2014 2:15 am

Really enjoyed watching this game. It was encouraging to see France do so well after such an inconsistent string of performances.. Although this victory does mean their poor coach will now have a bit of slack to make some other terrible selections <-- hopefully not.

France was incredible though, their pressure early on was immense, I thought England was going to be in for a VERY long day initially, but the way they came back fighting was encouraging.

A lot can be taken away from this game, some very encouraging performances from fairly new players. Not new but I thought Ben Morgan showed his strength today.

Agree with CC above, not a great decision but I suppose he wasn't thinking too far ahead.

Well done France, I hope they continue and don't suddenly have a completely opposite performance next week!!

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Lasoule February 02, 2014 2:25 am

We hope so !!!

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Lasoule February 02, 2014 2:31 am

Dave, I can understand, but two great teams on the field today. 5 tries, good intentions, short victory for my team but a very nice game today.

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Oliver February 02, 2014 8:52 am

I am so glad France won, it was really needed after a dismal 2013. I'm relieved, actually. It would have been such a gut-wrencher to lose at home after starting the game with a French try in the first 30 seconds.....followed by another one.

Good thing luck was on our side yesterday, that never hurts!

On the other hand, I felt England should've been penalised after a series of off-the-ball and late tackles (first Butin, then Plisson and a third one I can't remember). I'd like to see it again, but I'm pretty sure if Farrell had been manhandled the way Plisson was by Wood, a French player would've been sin-binned.

Anyways, congrats to England for fighting back, et bravo les bleus!
Six nations looks promising....

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Guy February 02, 2014 8:57 am

From a neutral perspective: a very thrilling match. Had me on the edge of my seat the whole match.

I felt sorry for the English. Based on both halves I guess a draw would have been fair. On the other hand: nobody likes a draw so kudos to the French.

Hope the rest of the 6N will reach the same level of intensity.

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Facepalm February 02, 2014 10:51 am

Couldn't believe Lancaster's substitutions. Who ended up on the wing at the end of the game? Unless I'm mistaken it was Dickson, Farrell, Barritt, Brown, Goode, Burrell and Twelvetrees?

England's best players, Care and Vunipola - taken off. France's best players, Nyanga and Picamoles - played the full 80. It seemed like Lancaster was the coach of an U13 team and felt like he had to give every kid a chance so their parents wouldn't be annoyed.

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BenjaJ February 02, 2014 11:49 am

Actually, Picamoles was also replaced by Chouly. But still, I didn't understand Lancaster's substitutions.

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matt February 02, 2014 8:02 pm

Sarzesky (sorry for the spelling) stayed on as well, and he outpaced Launchberry to give Ficou a chance on the outside

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mrjmmlc February 02, 2014 8:40 pm

Szarzewski was on the bench, he came on

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Phil mc avity February 02, 2014 11:06 pm

And Hartley! England had a 5m attacking lineout (5m away from the french line) and T.Youngs cocked up! (Around 55mins I think)

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UpTheLowEnd February 03, 2014 11:27 am

You've no more idea than anyone else who cocked up in the lineout, pisses me off when people assume the hookers. Its just as much about the jumpers and the decisions they make that dictate the outcome of a lineout. Also the replacement hooker forcibly has to change his lineout game to be like that of the starting hooker so that he doesn't mess the jumpers around... not an easy feat.

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DaRabman February 03, 2014 5:13 pm

Courtney lawes is pushing 7 foot, and it was Youngs who botched three lineouts on the trot that let NZ back into the game last year.
No one assumed it was the hooker, we all observed it. That being said it wasn't the only opportunity we didn't take.

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UpTheLowEnd February 06, 2014 2:37 pm

It was more a general observation of the lineout overall as oppose to talking specifically of Youngs. I just dislike the uneven distribution of blame that hookers generally receive when for a lineout to function, every man in it has to do their job right, not even just the lifters and jumpers but also guys dummying etc.

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DrG February 05, 2014 11:42 am

As someone who played hooker in the early years, they grew like the green giant and ended up playing second row/back row, I couldn't disagree with you more Upthelowend....

These hookers undoubtedly trained together in the England camp and did lineout training.. rightly suggested, it's not as simple as pick ball up and throw it, however 'forcibly has to change his lineout game'? He knows the calls, he knows where his target should be, he knows the trigger to throw the ball... if it doesn't go to target then either the second rows are hindered or the hooker butchers it.

On the other side of the lineout, as a second row, you know the calls and you know the moves, if you jump (and get lifted) and your hooker misses you, it's not exactly your fault.

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DevonJP February 02, 2014 11:10 am

Unlike some here, I felt that Danny Care did not play well yesterday. His decision making was slow and inept, aside from the quick tap he took. He also puts England under pressure with taking it into contact and kicking out on the full.

Vunipola did have a good game but I feel that he would make a far greater contribution from the bench with Ben Morgan showing what a handful he can be but with a broader based skill set.

England were unlucky, however I feel that a more ruthless team would have continued the pressure rather than just try to contain the french, which as we know can be very difficult...

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BenjaJ February 02, 2014 12:11 pm

This is so good...

But what a lack of aggressivity by the French in defense, while it was their strength against New Zealand ! Without Dusautoir and Fritz it wasn't the same.
They have to be more careful next week against Italy if they don't want an another surprise, like last year.

No bad sportsmanship, but it's so good to silence the English!

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DrG February 02, 2014 12:17 pm

Posted it in the wrong video and have been slightly corrected on it. I loved it when Nigel Owens told Brown who was complaining about a 'headbutt' (nothing in that), 'You are both acting very immature'.

Thought he had a brilliant game too and also loved his way of dealing with little 'nothings'

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Frase February 02, 2014 12:21 pm

Great game, would have liked to see Tweelvetrees pass the ball for once...also would have liked to see May play a full game because he is such a talented runner.

I said before the game that France would have to play well to beat England, which they did. I think that gives the appropriate credit to both teams at the moment. Well done to France but I'm sure England will bounce back from this.

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matt February 02, 2014 8:04 pm

I hope we do, and I look forward to seeing our pack let loose on a team that doesn't have the sheer size that France were able to field because I think that we could be quite destructive if we play like that against normal sized humans

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Rapha February 02, 2014 12:51 pm

What a great game. So much intensity and application.(Especially after a poor performance from Wales who lacked aggressiveness...)
I'm not going to comment the result as i believe both teams could have won but i just noticed some very poor kicks (& kicking decisions) from both sides.Giving balls away like that against southern hemisphere teams could put us in delicate positions...

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Frenchie February 02, 2014 2:06 pm

Great game; too much kicking for me though...
It's a great victory for this French team, they struggled a lot but won at the end. The French showed a lot of guts and fighting spirit. I thought the English were better, quicker, they seemed a lot fresher and sharper in attack. The French seemed to be tired early in the game and that's a worry. But they regained some speed at the end.

Key factor for me: the substitutions on both side: I would have kept Care on the field. Very good timing in the sub for the French though. Fickou (only 19) should now start against the Italian and gain some experience at the highest level.

I am not convinced by the new fly Half (Plisson) as he didn't create much, played far from the defense line. he kicked a lot and got pined by the English very quickly. First cap so he needs to learn a lot.

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Yannoche February 02, 2014 3:08 pm

Same feeling too much kicking!

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Reality February 02, 2014 6:27 pm

Yeah, Plisson seemed to be decent at the beginning but became completely anonymous by the end. He was poor in defense and just kept kicking the ball badly instead of running it.

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matt February 02, 2014 8:07 pm

I know what you mean about Fickou starting, but I think using basterroud (sorry for the spelling again) as a bludgeon for 60 minutes to tire out the defence before bringing in the whippet is a good idea. The commentators remarked as Fickou was coming on about how with English players being knackered and suffering cramps the change from wrecking ball to evasive running might be deadly. And it was.

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jimmy23 February 02, 2014 4:22 pm

Without sounding like a sore loser, I'm sure even some French fans would agree that their first 2 tries were slightly fortuitous with the bounce of the ball. But, you must take your chances and they did. Gutted to have lost at the death but we showed some promising stuff, if only we played like we did in the 2nd half for the whole game (something I find myself wondering a lot)

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DrG February 02, 2014 7:00 pm

I wouldn't say you sound like a sore loser, but those try's are definitely a demonstration of how the French used to be so dangerous (and perhaps it's coming back).

Again the try at the end was another demonstration of the French always playing until the death. I can recall so many times over the history where I've seen the French come back from behind and win the game.

I'd say the 'fairest' result based on the playing and heart would have been a draw.

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matt February 02, 2014 8:10 pm

I'm furious that Goode fell for the dummy at the end, I think that basic error in fullback play could well have cost us the game.

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Phil mc avity February 02, 2014 11:14 pm

Goode shat himself, well spotted Matt, any fullback (or any decent tackler who is covering would take the man out! The ball carier, he was running too slow and pretented to go for the dummy, Goode should be dropped!)

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nzbougnat February 02, 2014 6:55 pm

Yup. Would certainly agree there, even as a French fan. I'd even go so far as saying that England was probably the better team. Let's say that it makes up for 30 yrs of loosing against England in the dying minutes! Great game all around from two promising teams. And best of luck to all 6 Nations for a hopefully entertaining tournament!

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Colombes February 02, 2014 9:56 pm

I was in the stadium yesterday, and i must say the ambiance on the 3rd try of Fickou was just immense. a mix of relief and impatience.

More than the result, most important to recall is that the crunch is that england and France can play a great brand of rugby. Both teams could have deserve to win.. France first minutes were monumental, England fightback was full of control... but they didn't make the good choice to win the game, u know the end, when les bleus finally dare a piece of magic from their 22, big balls.

France is far to be a finished article, nearly narcoleptic during 30-40 minutes, but they stopped the defeat spiral. Now St-André must install the team and dare to confirm youngsters (plisson, doussain, fickou, bonneval, bruni...)
England is still a young team with all the positive aspects seen during the match, but they lacked experience at crucial times. be assured they'll be ready for 2015 if they can find out some leaders

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FatProp February 02, 2014 10:31 pm

This game was all about the bench, Lancaster did very poorly Dickson was not needed as he doesn't really add much off the bench, and no fly half on the bench was just plain stupid (I watched the game not the highlights so I haven't seen what they showed) but Farrell suffered with cramp from the last 10-15 minutes and was just a passenger. May got injured and Goode came on moving brown to wing which is his poorer position. Then Nowell Gets injured and Barritt comes on! I don't mind Barritt but he can't play with 36 in the centres he needs a big centre like Burrell but he had to cover wing. On the bench they needed Ford and a utility back like Daly or Eastmond. Now I come across like nothing was good which is wrong because I was actually happy with how we played.
Good Points
-Farrell was on the gain line
-The pack was brilliant in the loose and lineout
-Original back three looked dangerous
-Burrell was great in stopping Basteraud

Bad Points
-The shape of the ball is just ridiculous I mean was it a tactical ploy by the French so they would score those two tries ?

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Phil mc avity February 02, 2014 11:28 pm

Good points fatprop.
The starting 15 was brilliant, I really think that could be a good world class team. But Goode is shite, Hugets second try Goode should have tackled him!!!!! No one has said that! You learn that when you're like 8 years old. Even if the guy passes you FINISH THE TACKLE SO HE CANT CARRY ON AND SCORE! And then he didnt tackle Fickou! He shouldn't be in the team. T.Youngs cant throw and cocked up a vital lineout. Also you cant have Mako Youngs and Cole in the front row together. Cole is too big to play with them thats why cole gets lifted up! You either go tall front row (marler/shezza hartley and cole) or small like the french do. Thats important!

Good points: england needed to test young players and they played well
The pack was fit and brilliant
The backs were good a part from Goode (shame about May but I would definetly start Watson on the left wing)
Farrell stepped up big time and had some brilliant wilko style placement kicks. He also carried well.
The French (and St Andre) needed the win big time! So fair play, and it was a good match! I think the french needed the win more than england, who needed to test players.

Bad points: t.youngs shite, Makos scrum shite, Attwood was too slow before Fickous try, made a gag, Fofana saw that, ran at him, pulled in 2 defenders which allowed the overlap for Sarszeski and Fickou to get through. Barritt is a good defender but not great in attack. And cant play with 36 in the centre. David cameron/lee dickson is shite.

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Phil mc avity February 02, 2014 11:35 pm

For the next match England should go:

Mako Vunipola
Webber (or a youngster who is fitter!)
Parling/Croft (but still injured so I would go Slater)
BEN Youngs

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FatProp February 03, 2014 11:36 am

Yeah it's the team we should play only changes I would make are Simpson for youngs
Daly for Foden and please anyone for Thomas he will get ruined in the scrum! Also let Corbs rest for a while no need for him to get injured when we have a world cup coming up he needs to get back to 100%
2. Hartley
5.Attwood(Lawes might have an injury I heard)

21.Simpson(or go French and put in Sam Dickinson no.8 for Northampton)

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Phil mc avity February 02, 2014 11:37 pm

The french should keep Plisson and bring Trinh Duc on around 55mins. And start Fickou with Fofana and bring Bastareaud on around 65. Nyanga was brill! Chouly is shite.

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cheyanqui February 03, 2014 2:07 am

Watched the game in the USA thanks to TV5. The French feed was brilliant -- only took 30 seconds for the first ooh la la

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Walshie February 03, 2014 4:40 am

Did the french players have signatures in the numbering on their jerseys? Does anyone know why?

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Golhen February 03, 2014 7:46 am

Actually the numbers were made of photos from french fans, an operation took place some weeks ago, you had to send your photo if you were interested in appearing on the jersey.

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DrG February 03, 2014 9:48 am

Didn't notice that at all :/ Then again I was watching on a 30 inch tv that was probably about 18 years old and I was a good 12 feet away from it...

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Eddie-g February 03, 2014 3:16 pm

Feel for the English lads, they played the better rugby overall, only to see France grab all of their opportunities. Not sure when last an English coach has been able to say he got a performance without getting the result, but for quite an inexperienced side, they played pretty well.

Big win for France though, unless Wales especially and Ireland too raise their level, France won't play a better opponent.

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Oliver February 04, 2014 8:21 am

the better rugby? sorry, but no. Both teams deserved a win, it was very close, and I'll admit we had some luck.
However our scrum was dominating and the last try went the whole length and width of the field. It was like French flair resurrected! THAT in my opinion, is the "better rugby". Or at least the most beautiful one. But I can agree that's a matter of opinion....
Also, France did not "grab all of their opportunities". There were missed kicks and an attack that ended on the touch pole.

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Newfie February 03, 2014 9:07 pm

anyone have a link or know of a youtube account that has the game? couldnt stream it my computer crashed

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moddeur February 03, 2014 9:48 pm

You can always try the following link, but I don't know if it works outside of France (wait for the advertising to end):,96160408.html

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kadova February 04, 2014 12:13 am

I was there too, the atmosphere was incredible, we (French) spent the last 5 min standing and screaming in a collective hysteria, i could barely speak afterwards, lol !
I think England play better overall, we got our annual little fight ;), and the win will do good for the French players minds after an horrible 2013.
On the other hand, too many missed tackles in the second half, and i hate when they kick the ball away, allowing a counter-attack.
I'm glad in a way that they made mistakes, that will prevent them from being complacent.
And you know, to us beating England is always something...i'm still on cloud 9, lol !

Great behaviour from the English fans who were singing while leaving the stadium and in the public transports (we did our part too).

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JohnGunne February 04, 2014 2:55 pm

Congratulations to France, for all the talk of lucky tries as an England fan I have to concede that to benefit from luck a team has to put themselves in the right position and that is what the French did. I too have some reservations about the replacements but its easy to me to criticise in hindsight; T Youngs might have smashed through the open field to set up a try and Dickson might have shot a magnificent cut out pass to put a runner in space but that isn't how it happened. I do believe however that Goode remaining in the team is a grave error and that he is awful just awful..

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Eddie-g February 04, 2014 3:16 pm

@ Oliver - it is a matter of opinion! Mine being that I felt England played better over the whole 80 minutes. France were certainly good too, and no question the final try was the best rugby of the entire match.

I admit to exaggerating about France taking all their opportunities, but they did make more of their scoring opportunities than England did. Either side could have won, I hope my comment wasn't taken to detract from France's victory, they had to be good to beat an England side that also played well.

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Oliver February 04, 2014 5:09 pm

Fair enough man!
I gotta say I was a little annoyed by the "better rugby" comment.... Gallic pride?

Anyways let's hope the rest of the tournament is as thrilling as that game!

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