The scales told me it was a static weight week this week, even though my eating habits have been on point. Actually I’m lying, my daughter gave me a couple of Haribos Wednesday evening, so much for thinking clearly under pressure!
Anyway, back to reality, it’s Grand Slam game eve and England are in France preparing to play for a shot at glory. It is a game they should in my opinion win.
The French are in all sorts of trouble with how their National team prepares and how their top players are treated. It is even worse than here in England!
They have 3 main issues, the amount of games in a season they’re playing, the playing style of their league and the development of their younger players.
The top French players are playing 40 games a season which ends in June for a pre-season starting in July. That is scary given the attritional nature of their league, no time for their bodies or minds to rest, or for them to upskill their techniques.
Which brings me to point 2. The league style, it’s a power based bosh fest, with both teams trying to batter each other into submission, I’m not saying there aren’t great tries scored, but it means that the French aren’t conditioned to play a faster type of game, their large forwards being used more are therefore on the ground more so they are out of the game and they can’t last a full 80 minutes of high speed test rugby.
Which brings me onto point 3. Young player development. The amount of money in the French League is massive, the highest in world rugby, (But peanuts compared to football) so the coaches/chairmen can afford to tempt the top foreign players into their sides, Dan Carter/Jonny Wilkinson being good examples of this. So with so many imports taking up big game squad space their youngsters aren’t getting a fair crack of the whip in top level high pressure games, which is where you learn your craft.
That is the state of play in France.
For me England go into this game as favourites, starting with Danny Care and Mako Vunapola are good calls, they are slightly up tempo versions of the players they are replacing, it’s a horses for courses type selection, in terms of Rugby Ben Youngs and Joe Marler did nothing wrong last week and will no doubt figure in tomorrow’s game.
England need to stay square and connected in defence to stem the French power game, if they do that, then this current French team does not have much more to offer, maybe they’ll revert to their youth, ignore their coach and play free schoolboy rugby of the type they did when they used to smile!
But as we know, and it’s a cliché, but clichés are only so because there’s an underlying truth to them, if the French have one of those days, which are getting rarer now thankfully, then no one can live with them.
England just need to do what they’ve been doing, but with more accuracy, not shipping so many try scoring opportunities and with more pace. Get a few points ahead early, silence that French crowd and the first Grand Slam in 13 years could be a reality.
I can’t wait!!!!