Shontayne Hape: Haunted house was scary...now we want to frighten France - News & Comment - Rugby Union - The Independent

Shontayne Hape: Haunted house was scary...now we want to frighten France

View From The Camp

We know this is a crunch game. Both teams are under a huge amount of pressure to perform.

The French are getting a hard time. They've lost two in a row and there's all this talk about them having not gelled together as a team.

We had a shaky game last week against Scotland, when we won late on. There's been a lot said about that. We're well aware of how much we owe a performance not only to ourselves but also to our friends, family and all the public back home who are supporting us.

I think the boys know exactly what it means to everyone else. We need to make sure that we perform in this game, and that we win it.

Toby Flood, of course, comes in at inside-centre. He came on last week and set up the try. The coaches opted for Floody because he brings a different dimension to the team. It gives us another kicking option as well. I know that he's really fired up for it.

I think a lot of people down here are expecting France to get knocked out, because of the way things have been going for them. We're expected to win, and that puts more pressure on us. Individually, they have got enough players in their team that can turn a game. They possess that kind of potency where they can turn up on the day and do anything. They'll throw it in their 22. They'll chip and chase.

They're all world-class players and I think on their day if they stand up and want to play I'm sure that they will cause us a lot of headaches.

Dimitri Yachvilli at scrum-half can be a dangerous player. When I think back to when Bath played Biarritz in the Heineken Cup he won the game for them with his kicking ability.

I think he's been playing well for them and so has the full-back, Maxime Medard. You can't focus too much on particular players but we need to keep an eye on them because those guys can stand up on their day.

We've just got to make sure that we go out and put into the game what we've practised throughout the week. We've got to make sure that we get the pressure on early and keep it up.

We've got to get off to a good start, not let them into the game, get early points on the board. If we look at the Scotland game last week, they got off to a good start and stayed in the game. It was us who were under pressure all the way to the end. We need to get off to that kind of start this week.

We've trained every day this week but we've had some time off. On Wednesday I organised for the boys to go to a place called Spookers for a team activity. It's a haunted theme park where all these actors are dressed up as scary things. You walk around being frightened to death, stuff like that.

Everyone thought it was just going to be a little game thing but when we got off the bus, guys were scared going through the house and through the forest out the back, with all the actors jumping out at them, dressed as mummies and things.

Probably the worst culprits were Delon Armitage and Chris Ashton. Chris was as scared as anything. I remember him coming out of the house and he had this red face, dripping with sweat.

It was all good fun, though. It was something just to get the boys out of the hotel and keep them amused.

Obviously, we hope it will be different today. Hopefully, we can scare the French.

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