Toby Flood: Johnson told us to be proud. A few points cost us that trophy
Six Nations Notebook: The tournament could have been so different. We almost won three extra games
Thursday 25 March 2010
They are never particularly happy places after a defeat, but the England dressing room at the Stade de France was especially quiet following our final Six Nations match last Saturday. We knew we'd put in a decent performance, but I think a lot of the lads felt it was a match that we could have won.
While France were worthy champions, we had pushed them all the way and came very close to denying them the Grand Slam. It was certainly good to go out there and throw the ball around a bit. We were determined to cause them problems and to express ourselves. I think the fact that they shut up shop in the second half was a reflection of the respect they had for us. The Parisian weather didn't do us any favours either, with the rain coming at the wrong time for us.
While there is inevitably disappointment with how the tournament went for us as a team, we also know that the outcome could have been very different. But for a point or two here and there we could have beaten Ireland, Scotland and France.
Martin Johnson never says a lot in the immediate aftermath of a match, but he told us that we should be happy and proud of the way we had performed. Within half an hour of the finish I think most of us were in a more positive frame of mind.
People say that France look the best of the northern hemisphere teams as the next Rugby World Cup approaches, but there's a lot of rugby to be played and things can change quickly. It wasn't so long ago that people were questioning the direction in which France were heading.
On a personal level I thought I did OK on Saturday. The best thing was that I enjoyed the occasion. I used to get very nervous playing for England, but as time's gone on that's changed. I always try to go into a match in a relaxed frame of mind and I think that helps my game.
Now it's back to club rugby with Leicester Tigers. We're playing at Worcester on Saturday. It's bottom versus top, but we know it won't be easy as they're desperate for the points to avoid relegation. The season has a way to go yet.
Dan's singing won't trouble the charts but it amused me
My off-the-field highlight of the Six Nations had to be my Leicester team mate Dan Cole's performance on the bus following the win over Wales. It's a little tradition that new caps have to sing a song to everyone else after the match. Dan's a great guy but he's quite shy and I think he was dreading having to do his turn in front of all the players, not to mention the wives and girlfriends. He got plenty of stick but he did pretty well with his rendition of "Stand By Me", though I don't think he'll be offered a recording contract quite yet. Another of my club colleagues, Ben Youngs, had to go through the same initiation, but as this is a family newspaper I don't think it would be right for me to reveal his choice of song.
Toby Flood and The Independent are supporting RBS RugbyForce, the scheme that can help your club to improve its facilities. To register for the RBS RugbyForce weekend on 5-6 June, visit www.rbs6nations.com/rugbyforce
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