French ignore revenge over old enemy to focus on Slam

  • @PaulN54

Mention of last year's 34-10 crushing defeat by England has brought a grimace to the faces of some French players here this week, but Yannick Jauzion insisted yesterday that revenge will not be uppermost in the minds of Marc Lièvremont's team at the Stade de France on Saturday. France need just one more win to complete their first Grand Slam for six years, though there is little danger of complacency given that they have lost their last three Six Nations matches against England.

"We won't be going into the match looking for revenge for last year," Jauzion said. "The only motivation we have is to finish the job and win the Grand Slam. The pieces of our game are starting to come together. We have good momentum and there's good spirit in the camp."

Jauzion, who made his international debut nine years ago and has represented his country 67 times, believes that France have not done themselves justice in some recent meetings with England. "When we lost two years ago we were a long way from the finished article, but last year was different. We conceded early tries and never recovered. We didn't play well and England didn't need to be geniuses to beat us that day.

"It wasn't like when we lost to the All Blacks in Marseilles at the end of last year. We just had to admit after that match that we had lost to the better team. We didn't leave the field with any regrets. But there have been times when we've lost to England where the matches have been close and it certainly wasn't a case of them teaching us a rugby lesson. They were just doing the basics better than us."

Jauzion played a key part in the 2004 Grand Slam but missed out in 2002. At 31, the Toulouse centre knows that this may be one of his last chances of glory. "You certainly appreciate these opportunities more when you realise there won't be many more ahead of you," he said.

Imanol Harinordoquy is in a similar position. "That's why Saturday's game is so important," said the 30-year-old forward. "It will be even more special because it's against England."