Run over by a chariot

Richard Escot of L'Equipe newspaper bemoans the display of his countrymen
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The Independent Online
FRENCH fans left Twickenham yesterday with a horrible feeling. We came with high expectations, but not since 1989 has a Tricolore team been beaten in such a convincing manner. Unless new regulations are brought in to prevent England playing with their back row, I don't see any hope of the French XV winning at Twickenham in the near future. Even flashes of the old French flair, our best export, was not enough to beat this English team, perhaps the best there has been since 1980. Jeremy Guscott's try and Tony Underwood's first were hardly spectacular efforts, but they were enough to turn theFrench hopes into ashes. Long before the end of the game, it looked as if we had become the nation of the headless cockerel.

Style and romanticism seem to get nowhere in the modern game. Counter-attacking from deep seems to be the only way to play our natural game, but it is a dangerous approach against this England side, who follow their tracks, ruck after ruck, kick after kick, year after year.

The key to the battle, said the French coach, Pierre Berbizier, during his pre-match team talk, is the first tackle. Unfortunately, he forgot to mention the second one. Clarke, as well as Rodber, were very happy to run straight into the heart of the defence from second- and third-phase possession. Deylaud and company had no answer to these devastating surges.

England rules the game in Europe, and that's that. This is not music to French ears, but as long as England's strong chariot swings low, there is no reason why they should change their ways. Once again, France scored a beauty of a try, a jewelforged fromnowhere that revived memories of Saint-Andre in 1991. Then, as now, it was not enough.

Even though we walked for 10 minutes on the sunny side of the beach yesterday, the waves of these English forwards finally engulfed us. Rugby is still primarily a game ruled by the pack, and we had no answer to the might of les rosbifs.

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