My Six Nations predictions went reasonably well until the start time in Twickenham – I was eight of the eight – but I was completely wrong.
I was expecting a scorching dogfight against a team in Ireland with their tail up and nothing to lose and I even felt that the Irish could place it in the shade or two. I was worried about some of the selections in England and was nervous about the result.
But what especially happened in the first half was an incredibly strong and disciplined action by England against an Irish party that simply had no way of participating in the competition. It was absolutely excellent.
That was all the way up England & # 39; s excellence, their suffocating defense, their loss of power at the front and their dominance at the set piece.
They also decided early to confront Ireland with their own air play that is generally considered an Irish force – those early recordings of Jonny May and Elliot Daly were great moments. England was in the business.
England was in charge of the game from start to finish and in the end the only disappointment was not being able to score a fourth attempt for a bonus point. The championship is clearly to be lost in France, but if they slipped, England could still drive through the blindside. There is still a lot of rugby to play.
Not that missing a try bonus detracts from an excellent performance. I do not know any England supporter who would not have arranged that before the game.
England was fully dialed in, just as they were against New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final and – an even better comparison in my opinion – their 32-20 win over Ireland in Dublin a year ago , which I immediately place
On that occasion at the Aviva, the physicality that progressed from Manu Tuilagi and Billy Vunipola set the tone, on Sunday it was Manu again and Courtney Lawes played on blindside flanker.
What England also did that day to get out of the blocks and keep the time going that they replicated in Twickenham. They built up the pressure from the start and although you can point to lax defense for both of England's first two attempts, Ireland played a bit of two broken kicks and that's when the odd bounce of the ball can undo a defense.
It was a tough field yesterday, despite all the wet weather – actually an end of the season field – and such attempts will probably always come if you put the ball in the right place.
Ireland just wasn't there mentally in the first half and I can't give an explanation other than it sometimes happens. Rugby is often an art more than a science, if it was that last one, you could come up with the answers every time.
Courtney Lawes may be a good example. Like many others, I would not have chosen him on a blindside flanker. I didn't think he had gone well there in the past, while always looking like a world-class castle, but he responded to the criticism of the selection – not him personally – with a beautiful all-round performance.
Laws rightly deserved the man of the competition prize to celebrate his 31st birthday, although I would say that Maro Itoje would have run him pretty close.
Itoje was very good against Scotland two weeks ago and made a huge contribution yesterday, not least in his aggressive defense that helped increase pressure on Ireland.
What I also liked was proof of his growing maturity. When Ellis Genge, one of my favorite young English tyroses, got involved with a few verbals, itoje – himself a pretty fiery character – was careful to pull him away from any possible flare. Itoje has his head on the line and when he is so focused, he is always excellent.
Many others went really well. Tuilagi nowadays has to manage his damaged body, but he can still have a huge impact. Although he was selected outside the center, England used him a lot as a 12 to transport him in his inimitable way or to use him as a dummy.
England was in a good headspace and I can only say well done to Eddie Jones for holding on to his weapons. He knew the team he wanted and he was determined not to be distracted by the noise around his selections. When you win a large test competition, your selections are always correct!
So it goes further and further. As Eddie said after the game, more is coming this way and the view of Wales running out of Twickenham in two weeks may lighten the touch paper. That should be an intriguing collision to enjoy England's turn now, while Wales is looking for the ship after two defeats on the jump.
LES BLEUS BEING LONG LAST
For anyone who loves the Six Nations and wants to see European Rugby as strong as possible, the victory of France in Cardiff was an important moment, possibly the start of something special.
I have no doubt that France is able to win RWC2023 that they will host, but first they have to bury the memories of almost a decade of largely bad rugby and bad experiences. Their victory over Wales at the Principality Stadium was the start of that process.
Did you see the young team dancing and jigging for joy and then signing their song in the dressing room? It was all via Twitter. This is the time when teams start to believe and believe they can take on the world.
The victory did not come easily, although it was thoroughly earned for me. The Grand Slam is certainly not theirs yet. Scotland will give them a lot to think, including Ireland in the final round. They could easily lose one of those games and that would all be part of the process, but I think we can safely say that the real France is back.
SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Confusing, high risk and ZERO logic … The bewildering selections of Eddie Jones could be spectacularly counterproductive when England included Ireland in the Six Nations clash
The good news is that I have a sharpening of the felt intensity with England in Murrayfield – but the bad news is part of Eddie Jones & selections make me very nervous!
I have often said that there is no such thing as a bad selection if your team wins. The Six Nations is all about winning – complete stop.
The ways of achieving this are many and varied. But if individuals are asked to play out of position and their team costs the game, then massive questions will be asked about the selection.
So here we go again. Courtney Lawes is not test No. 6, and although I understand the temptation to choose a line-out man in the back row to fight against Peter O & # 39; Mahony, who wins a lot of balls for Ireland, that shows too much respect for the opposition and not concentrate enough on how England intends to continue their business.
Meanwhile, we still have one of & # 39; s big flankers in Tom Curry at number 8 and now we have Jonathan Joseph, a specialist outside the center, on the wing when Ollie Thorley is fit and available . Manu Tuilagi is 13 years old, and I would prefer to play him 12 with skipper Owen Farrell out of 10. It's all very confusing.
Again I have to emphasize that selection is the number 1 skill of an international coach and I just hope that all these players can adapt to the new position or the new system.
When Henry Slade is fit enough for the bench – he may have to play for 79 minutes if someone gets injured early – England had the potential to select the Farrell-Tuilagi-Slade midfield who brilliantly ruled a year ago was when she was so handsome in Dublin, winning their best Six Nations show under Jones and above, with one of the best shows in England.
For Sunday's game I would have started with Alex Dombrandt at no. 8, having moved Curry back to flanker and started with Ellis Genge.
England could escape because they are at home, which is a big advantage in Six Nations games, but selecting players from position and packing the bank with six attackers and only two backs is a risky strategy that has the advantage returned to Ireland and it could unravel.
Looking at that matchday 23, England has five specialized locks – I am having trouble remembering the eve. I see that earlier and cannot offer a logical reason to apply such an approach.
The World Cup final was different when South Africa launched their & # 39; bombing team & # 39; of the bank used to make all tournaments work properly, and it was a clear tactic that England could not match, but very few parties have the power of the Boks in-depth in the attackers.
I see zero logic for England to do this and when we see Willi Heinz or Ben Youngs end up on the wing – or Ben Earl a long shift in the back as Eddie seemed to indicate on Friday – then it will have failed spectacularly.
Although concerned about these issues, England certainly turned a corner in that ugly old victory in Edinburgh. The beer will have tasted good that night and there will have been a spring in their step in training.
With one win already behind, they are still very live contenders for the championship and now they must complete their recovery from the hangover after the World Cup Final with a quality performance for their own fans.
Regarding Ireland, new coach Andy Farrell has had a good winning start and this game is really a free shot for him and his side. The consequences of a defeat in Ireland are negligible as long as they show up and perform at a reasonable level. This relaxed, confident state of mind was reflected in the early announcement of their unchanged team 48 hours before they had to.
I have no problem leaving team selections up to a few hours before the kick-off – the choice must be yours – but Farrell confirms his selection so early shows what a pragmatist he is. His plans were in place, he knew his best team and they are all in their best positions. He had to make a late transfer on Friday with Devin Toner who replaced Iain Henderson, but did not feel like playing cat and mouse and generally wandering around in the run-up. Let England do that.
Instead, Farrell has focused entirely on Sunday's game, and so is the Irish media, with no distracting debates about the pros and cons of different selections.
You feel that some major players are buying into the new regime. Both CJ Stander and Tadhg Furlong had doubts about them at the start of the campaign, but both are back in action. Farrell did not go for wholesale changes, but there have been tweaks. Evolution not a revolution.
It is almost too close to call and in those cases I usually return to home advantage. My heart always says England, because I never see them lose in Twickenham, but my head says Ireland with a point, based on all their starting XV game in positions that make them feel comfortable.
SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: I hope Scotland wins a record victory over Italy in Six Nations after Gregor Townsend's mistaken character killing of Finn Russell
- If I were Scotland coach, I would have Finn don't choose Russell until he apologizes
- The SRU must intervene and declare that Russell will no longer play for Scotland
- Russell is a great talent but is wildly inconsistent and regularly disappoints
I try not to be too partisan in my columns because I love good rugby and admire playing top quality from all teams, but I hope that Scotland will achieve a great victory on Italy on Saturday.
I got sick by Finn Russell & # 39; s unjustified and often incoherent character murder on Gregor Townsend last week. It crossed a line and if I were Townsend, I would make a simple statement: if Russell doesn't apologize, he won't play for Scotland while I'm a coach.
I wish the SRU would be the first to board and say that Russell would no longer play for Scotland, regardless of who is a coach.
Who does Russell think he is? As a fly-half he has great talent, but is wildly inconsistent and has regularly failed to deliver controlled, winning performances of 80 minutes. He disappoints as much as he excites.
Russell has to show a little humility. Scotland's rugby team has been playing for 149 years and its role in that history is indeed very small.
I was confronted with a similar situation with Richard Cockerill after the 1999 World Cup, after which he wrote a book. I found the content largely nonsense, particularly the accusation that I was a bully. I asked him for a public apology. He refused, so I banished him from the team. I told him he would never play my watch for England again, and he didn't. A very good whore, Cockers missed the World Cup in 2003 when he undoubtedly played well enough to form our team.
I didn't like to follow such a fixed line, but it had to happen.
There was no word of disagreement in the team and in fact I felt it strengthened my position, although that not the reason why i did it.
But there is more. In 2005 I was on the Leicester board and I had the last word about who we chose as head coach. It was a strong field, but I chose Richard Cockerill because I believed an adult Cockers was leading the way in a great young coach. And I wasn't wrong.
He called me a few days later, thanked me profusely, and said he assumed he would have no chance because of our history. I said: & # 39; Nonsense. & # 39; Everyone makes mistakes – the most important thing is to learn from them and get better. Cockers did that in his coaching career, with the option to add.
I was delighted to read last week that Cockers strongly supported Townsend about Russell, citing his own painful removal from the English team as parallel
Cockers understood that no coach had a player can behave like this. We have since exchanged a few humorous texts.
England may have made a mediocre start for the Six Nations but they are the only team in the first two rounds to claim a win and now, with two home games on the jump, they are in a very strong position to challenge the championship.
I cannot see Eddie Jones making many changes for the Ireland game. His decision seems to have been made with regard to Tom Curry at number 8, although he clearly misses the point.
Of course Curry can go well at number 8 – he is a great rugby player – but by playing there, England robs himself of possibly the best flanker in the world.
Much attention will be focused on the two captains, Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell, and I would like to see them in direct opposition on fly-half.
I have not always been a supporter of Farrell at number 10 for England, simply because I always want two playmakers and George Ford and Farrell offer that. But the World Cup Final convinced me to change my mind.
My main reason for switching is that although Farrell is an accomplished number 12, he is one of & # 39; the world's best tens and that is where England needs him.
Look at it in a different way; I'm sure Sexton could make a very decent Test 12, but why would Ireland have a problem with that if he played 10? I feel that if an Ireland or indeed a Lions coach asked Sexton to play in the middle, he might get a very short and immediate answer!
Farrell in top form at 10 can continue a team, as we saw during England & # 39; s excellent win over Ireland in Dublin last season.
Midfield that day was Farrell, Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade and, all in all, that game is still the best display under the Jones regime, even better than the semi-final against New Zealand.
It would be tough for Ford, but Test Rugby is full of difficult selection decisions. The only thing I can promise you is Farrell's father, Andy, would be happy to see his son 12 and not 10 playing!
In observing Sexton and Farrell, I want an aspect of both their brand and ups. They are good captains – although not as experienced as leaders – but they do not properly treat or honor the referees, something that is traditionally considered an essential part of the captain. Although for me the most responsibility of a captain comes into play during training and building.
Both are fiery characters who have a lot to say on the field, but it is fascinating and sometimes funny to see them move from one extreme to the other with the referees.
On some occasions they are clever, combative and use their position as captains to question almost every decision, while on other occasions they appreciate that they can be a bit full – furthermore they try the diplomatic, almost compliant approach, where they keep their real cruel for what they regard as a grade of injustice.
I am not sure if both work. Martin Johnson was a great captain, but he was not a very good manager and cajoler of referees and I am polite.
I've always assigned that task to someone else, normally the scrum half, and Matt Dawson was excellent at it.
The thing about scrum halves – all of which are frustrated referees – is that although only the captain is meant to talk to the referee, the No. 9 develops a natural dialogue during a game. They work with and constantly talk to the referee at scrums while the lineouts are formed and at the base of rucks or mauls. It is very easy and not controversial for a scrum half to have a quiet word with the ref.
I have always asked Matt to loudly repeat all the referee's instructions and pass them on to the team, primarily because the referee wants all players to hear it and those instructions must be followed, and second, it gives the impression that the party is listening to him and is working hard to make his calls.
The scrum half is in charge of all the referees' instructions and the quasi-coaching that continues – & # 39; back foot, hands away, go back to the side, let go, use the & # 39; – really works and so many referees said to me and publicly that they enjoyed coaching England & # 39; while the players seemed to listen to and obey their instructions.
I think Conor Murray plays a similar role for Ireland, taking Johnny away from the heat. I would like Ben Youngs or Willie Heinz to do it a bit more.
My other early thought of this game is: what an opportunity for Andy Farrell to go back to Twickenham as the man in charge of Ireland
He made a great start this season as a head coach and, although I believe England will win, I would also love to see an English coach like Farrell who takes such a remarkable scalp.
We really have a number of exceptional English coaches.
The thought of South Africa in an expanded Six Nations is alarming and would be alarming to the detriment of rugby development in Europe. I would like to ask the Six Nations and World Rugby authorities to think again.
It would be a textbook example of possible short-term financial gain that replaces the much greater need to develop European rugby. We need to turn the Six Nations into a well-structured, coherent, continental championship with promotion and relegation. It could and should become an integral part of a European structure of international rugby that would see a huge development in the game and ultimately produce many more players and teams.
The big irony is of course that such a progressive Six Nations, which embraces the rest of Europe with a vibrant powerhouse second division from which ambitious teams can be promoted, are halfway and long term far more financially viable and lucrative than the proposed annexation of South Africa to the competition.
Europe is the largest long-term market. We may have left Europe politically, but in sports and rugby terms we have to stay close.
South Africa parachuting to the Six Nations after the World Cup 2023 would be a backward, counter-intuitive step and feel that something emerged from one of those blue-sky weekend meetings with & # 39; decision- & # 39;
As a reigning world champion, South Africa is currently bringing a lot to the table and perhaps trying to use it as leverage, but rugby must adopt a long-term strategic strategy
Has anyone other than the number -Crunchers really thought about this in terms of player well-being and the huge dent it would make in the wallet of supporters?
With all these annual competitions against the Springboks, November tests and summer tours, Lions trips to South Africa would also be redundant.
The November tests will be old, just like lion tours to South Africa
The biggest problem of course – and we have discussed this endlessly – is that the Six Nations is not run by the world administration, World Rugby or one of its continental subsidiaries.
It is a historic competition, but the reality is that it is a private, inviting, commercially driven company that has no reason to promote rugby in the rest of Europe, let alone the world.
The assignment is to maximize the profit for the six member unions, which are usually used to finance club play in those countries.
World Rugby must be strong enough to manage the game globally. If different & # 39; private & # 39; competitions may dictate policy and become decision-makers, where does that leave the governing body behind?
The Six Nations must be for the whole of Europe if officials are serious about the growth of
The logical – and fair – thing to do is to introduce a system of promotion and relegation with the annual winner of the Rugby Europe Championship (REC), normally Georgia, although Romania, Spain and Russia have all been hard pressed in recent seasons.
I accept such promotion and relegation in in the first instance, a play-off must take place between the Six Nations & # 39; bottom team and the top team from REC, but in the end we have to make it automatically. That's how league systems work in sports around the world.
These countries cannot go anywhere, their way has been cut off artificially for far too long.
The Five Nations helped Romanian dead rugby by never considering their inclusion in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Six Nations could be accused of doing the same with Georgia if they didn't have the chance get to develop.
Spain is a rugby nation awaiting the event when the huge sports community there thought there was some prospect of a fair blow from the whip.
Portugal currently has some great young backs, but most are amateurs who retire to become doctors or lawyers if their national team is still muzzled and discouraged from making that daring leap.
Unfortunately, the team that ends under the REC immediately goes into a relegation-play-off match against the winners of R EC2 while the top team is not allowed to take on a challenge for a place in the Six Nations. That is intrinsically unfair.
If relegation and promotion were part of the Six Nations, it is quite possible that Italy and Scotland had produced much stronger and more consistent sides in recent years. That is the advantage that is never considered.
Trying to avoid an annual promotion / relegation play-off game against Georgia would beautifully concentrate the mind and galvanize their teams.
There would no longer be any safety net. How refreshing for the tournament.
The highlights of that game will be short but if a former English coach who has lost in Murrayfield I can get into dirty conditions assure you that the victory will feel sweet. From the depths of despair in Paris last week, England can now relaunch their Six Nations campaign against Ireland in two weeks.
If England had lost Saturday night, it would be a very tense couple of weeks building the Irish game. Now a spring is coming and although Ireland is doing well, England, with two impressive victories over them last season, will rejoice.
It is all again to play for.
Winning in Edinburgh is never easy and winning in the rain and wind can be twice as difficult, but except for an uncertain period in the third quarter, England has it very well done. On such days, do what you need, earn the points, and move on.
It was a very old-fashioned game and you could argue that the modern player has difficulty adapting to such circumstances, but England remained calm and I felt that their body language and energy were better from the start.
It was also a better-selected team, this was the kind of match and day that you needed a Mako Vunipola and George Cross who bumped into the opposition and large units such as Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury come from the bank.
The striking highlights of England, however, were Sam Underhill, Tom Curry and Ellis Genge, who impress me every time I look at him.
Underhill was a dog on the floor standing on the floor tossed grass to win every 50-50 ball and Curry was very effective around the field, good bearing and pulling a few trademark channels.
Regarding Genge, I am not a big fan of the term & # 39; impact players & # 39; and I don't like the expression & # 39; finisher & # 39; but I admit that Genge never fails to increase the intensity and make his mark on the game when he comes off the couch. He really is a bundle of energy and although he is quite fiery, he is starting to pack it well.
The Leicester prop did indeed do very well to make its way through the line of defense of the Scots and to get England's lonely attempt. On a wet, slippery night, when it would be easy to lose possession, he cleverly tucked the ball in and protected it from disruptive opposition hands when he first contacted and then, after taking the big hits, held out his hand for the attempt.
It was good test match skills that he demonstrated there, just as valid and dangerous as stepping sideways and fainting on a drier day.
Although it is not a spectacle that will live in memory, it was fascinating to see how the modern player deals with such extreme circumstances.
Let's be clear, windy, wet weather is very difficult, but rugby is and must always be an outdoor sport and it is how you adapt to the hoof and deal with it that counts. On this occasion it was predicted well in advance and both parties had sufficient time to prepare, which helps.
When we lost in Murrayfield in 2000, a wild winter storm – in April – unexpectedly arrived shortly after the break and we did not make the mental switch to playing rugby quickly in inclement weather.
For me, England played better in the elements yesterday, although it took a while to realize that the wind was full on one side and not so bad on the other, so there was a huge variation in it how far the kicking would go. They made the necessary adjustments and started pushing the stairs lower and at the corner where Scotland fell a bit.
Scotland, with the elements, it didn't work so well. When you have a big wind behind you, the temptation is always to use it for a long kick, but that can be counterproductive. The wind takes too long, or makes direct contact or gives the defense too much time to deploy it.
Unlike when you are forced to make a clear defensive clearance, it is a much better policy to push it through with a rubber or especially when the ball is also wet and slippery. What it needed was the old kick and rush of Scotland from decades ago. & # 39; Feet Scotland, feet Scotland & # 39; as the old cry went up.
After the break, for the first 20 minutes or so, England began to repeat Scotland's mistakes from the first half. Long kick after long kick came in direct contact.
Too greedy. Willi Heinz twice, George Ford, Elliot Daly, they just didn't learn it. You cannot just leave the elements of the work, you have to make your way through the circumstances.
When, finally, England made the turn in mindset and immediately looked more composed, causing the Scotland to play back three times, it puts them under pressure. Then Ford produced that little push that put Stuart Hogg in all kinds of difficulties, and with the resulting scrum and pressure buildup, Genge embarrassed his way across
England were finally back on an even keel and were of good value to them victory. Scotland has just made too many mistakes and is now under pressure when looking at Rome in Rome, a must-win for both parties.
SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: This English team bounces back from France's defeat and gets the job done against Scotland on Saturday … But why is Tom Curry still playing at number 8?
- I believe that England will closely abandon a fired Scotland team on Saturday
- This competition should galvanize England because of the consequences of a loss be so great 
- I can't understand why Tom Curry is played out of position as a No.8
- Alex Dombrandt, Nathan Hughes or Sam Simmonds should play there
- England needs a powerful, controlling screen if the team has to triumph
With one large and one small reservation, Eddie Jones has chosen a much better England team to play in Scotland on Saturday and the fact that he has made five changes suggests that he admitted that he was to blame in Paris last week.
Let's hope that his coaching and game plan has improved, along with his selection. I believe they will get the job done against a scorched Scotland.
The impact of a third defeat on the jump is so great that you will see much more energy, intensity and accuracy, even if England is clearly still not over the disappointment of their final defeat for the World Cup. This is the competition that England could and should galvanize.
My biggest reservation remains Tom Curry at nr. 8. I just don't get it. Why would you demonstrably move the best flanker in the world out of position?
Especially if you have three in-form specialist No. 8s in Alex Dombrandt, who would be my choice, Nathan Hughes and Sam Simmonds. England has great options in this position while Billy Vunipola is injured.
Some have drawn a parallel with my early days as a coach of England when I moved Lawrence Dallaglio from blindside flanker to No. 8, but the situation is completely different. Curry is a real flanker, a magnificent player and already established as a World XV contender in that position at 21. I would not sacrifice that excellence in approach and jackling for the less predictable contribution he could make at No 8.
For me, Lawrence always looked like a world class number 8, even though he played exclusively as a flanker in Test rugby before I started the England. I would say he was a more versatile, well-rounded talent and a better ball player, but without the very specialist skills that Tom shows when he follows the ball and as a ball carrier.
Lawrence was a brilliant test No. 8 in the making that improved until he became & # 39; the world's best, but Tom is already a brilliant flanker. You can always improve, but he is almost done with the article.
So supporters in England will hold their breath again. There is some dirty weather forecast and in such circumstances you want a No. 8 at ease with his game. It will be another huge test for Tom and hopefully he will get through it, but Scotland will put him under great pressure.
My other warning is completely back George Furbank, who made a difficult debut in Paris and even more pressure on Murrayfield. I have to admit that I haven't seen enough of him under the high ball to really trust that department. In the camp in England they may be completely confident, but I just don't know for sure.
The combination of Furbank, Daly and May looks small and light and can come under heavy pressure from the kicking game of Scotland.
England has its intention for a & # 39; must- win & # 39; game indicated by calling a 6-2 split on the bank and with heavy weights Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes who are ready to add more power to the procedure if necessary. I am not sure if I would risk a 6-2 split if I felt that there were three defensive question marks.
Before the Paris match, Jones spoke of brutality and physicality – which I was not happy with – but I am looking for actions and not words this time.
I expect England to produce a very powerful, controlling performance ahead of time that they must have if they want to overcome. Mako Vunipola always intended to go back on track – I'm still not sure why he was excluded from France – and the best second-row combination in England is the Saracen pair of Maro Itoje and George Cross, back together.
Although the back row doesn't look ideal to me, at least Lewis Ludlam looks at blindside flanker and let's hope he can play as well as he spoke this week.
At scrum half Willie Heinz got the nod for Ben Youngs. Both are experienced players who perform best behind a package that goes well. However, the issue is who will succeed them: where have all the 9 & # 39; s of England gone?
I like the looks of the George Ford, Owen Farrell and Jonathan Joseph triumvirate, especially when the weather is as bad as predicted.
That's when you need two world-class kickers at 10 and 12 and they don't get any better than these two. England has won 15 of the 17 games when they start together. We will have to see if the elements allow rugby.
I am very happy to say that I saw this coming. France is on the rise and, already tightened by the arrival of Shaun Edwards, defended well at important moments. England arrived with the wrong team and has clearly not shaken the depressing end result of the World Cup.
Given all that, I was surprised at the confidence that some experts showed in a victory in England.
It also demonstrated the uselessness of all the talk about brutality and physicality before the game and gave France a few lessons about Testrugby! All intensity came from France, at least during the first 55 minutes before they started to lose shape and concentration.
Regarding becoming the best rugby team ever and all those hyperboles, England should just concentrate on becoming the best rugby team for the next 80 minutes. And then the next one. That is what real champion teams do – they are never ahead of themselves.
The time to talk is now over, England has to respond to this through their actions on the field, the cars are circling and all these media stop hype that is just nonsense and makes them all seem rather stupid.
Now they have to focus all their energy on a much improved view on and next to the field against the Scots, because make no mistake, the journey from Saturday to Murrayfield will be just as tough as this game and I will make Scotland again solid favorites.
The experiment of playing Tom Curry at number 8 and Courtney Lawes at six o'clock just didn't work. Alex Dombrandt, who should have been in the team from the start, has to come to Scotland as a starter and Curry has to return to his normal spot on blindside with Lawes on the bench.
England lacked a strong ball carrier from the base or someone to make some hard yards and off-load, all of which cause defense problems. Yesterday, France only had to keep an eye on Ben Youngs, who did not enjoy a great match and offered little threat from the base. The French defense has improved, but England has made it so easy for them.
The strongest scrummaging Luke Cowan-Dickie should probably start for Jamie George, who looked flat, and England needs George Cross alongside Maro Itoje in the second row. Ellis Genge is another who has earned a start at Murrayfield. He really brought some intensity into the procedure.
Owen Farrell withstood the worst game I had seen him produce for England, but I would support him to get well and, indeed, I would move him to 10, which means a lock out of the middle for Jonathan Joseph.
Inside depends on the fitness of Manu Tuilagi. If he is excluded, it can bring in Ollie Devotee, but what a shame England has somehow let Wales sneak into Saracens Center Nick Tompkins, who made an excellent debut at Principality Stadium on Saturday.
George Furbank looked as if he had been brought too early in a season and overall it was all a bit messy, with England looking like a side that was not at ease with itself and their roles
Eddie Jones has a really challenging week ahead now because England was well defeated. In just two pressured rugby games, all the mysticism, magic and trust of this English team is completely dismantled and it only shows what can happen when you are ahead of yourself and distracted.
Scotland will imagine their chances on Saturday. They were unlucky about losing against Ireland, they earned some money from the Dublin game and if they can just hold on to that thought and get the Murrayfield audience up and running early, England could face another tough night.
Let's face it Sunday was not really as close as the score suggests. France was excellent, disciplined and strong for 55 minutes as they kept clicking on the scoreboard to get a 24-0 lead, but when they did that classic French thing and caused unnecessary substitutions when they thought the match was won.
Fabien Galthie has shown his inexperience here, but he will learn from this and I think he is the charismatic coach that France has always missed.
Their scrum began to deteriorate, Jonny May produced two individual world-class attempts and suddenly England, at least cosmetically, was back in the game.
So Galthie also has a few things to work on, but this was still a huge confidence-inspiring victory. The atmosphere seemed incredible at the Stade de France, which can be a cold and fairly soulless stadium if France is struggling. The entire French rugby nation wanted this victory and their team delivered.
With a sad Italy's turn, they are already at the forefront when it comes to winning the tournament and Grand Slam, of which I prefer the.
The spotlight was on one or two of their younger players, but their absolute stars yesterday were the next generation.
Since we saw Antoine Dupont we played for Castres four or five years ago and we knew he was very special and since he conquered that ACL injury a while ago he has been on fire, a beautiful all-court scrum-half with a computer-like brain except for that bizarre moment when he kicked the ball to death with a minute.
The skipper Charles Ollivon was also excellent and the thi The French player I would like to put in the spotlight is their No. 8 Gregory Alldritt, who might have had to cover Scotland.
Make no mistake, France is starting to build something really good and those who run English Rugby have to start smelling the coffee!
SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: England is under pressure against France … to win, and their World Cup final no show can be seen as a blip. Losing, and it is back to finish
- France has a golden generation of young people and new coach Fabien Galthie
- Appointment of Shaun Edwards is the key and will bring this team so much
- The pressure is on England and France will test the nerve of the men of Eddie Jones
It is very rare that I tip against England, as ever, as I just never see them lose in rugby. More often than not, their depth and talent should see them through most of the games, but I confess that I [France] France are making Paris the favorites.
I work a lot in France at the moment, I love French rugby, and I know some of the big hitters, not least the man in ultimate control, the French Federation boss Bernard Laporte. The head coach of France is the only rugby court that I have talked to with someone since I left England in 2004, but it was clear that there was a reluctance to hire a non-French person.
For me, coaching France was possibly the last major rugby challenge – they have the talent and winning France to win a world cup would be a great prospect.
I am as stunned as everyone else about their inability to perform consistently over the past decade. They won a Grand Slam in 2010 and reached a World Cup Final in 2011, but have since become chronic underperformers.
Their club scene is perhaps the liveliest in the world and during that time they have had great players to call up, but they have sputtered or destroyed themselves time and time again, the last at the 2019 World Cup when they quarter final against Wales with 15 points or more.
I suspect that change this season and a win over England would trigger that process. They have a golden generation of young people, a back division to die for and all the hope and optimism that comes with changing regime.
Fabien Galthie is now in charge and I wish him the best, with Shaun Edwards an important appointment to continue the team during training. Edwards is a demanding winner, very demanding, and he will bring so much to this team and the new generation.
The manager, Raphael Ibanez, knows his stuff and enjoyed a good stint in England to widen his mind. He knows that the French way is sometimes not good enough and needs some refinement with regard to organization and discipline.
France will be nervous and tense, but not as nervous as England, which I feel is the team under pressure.
This game is huge for England from Eddie Jones. Win and they can reflect that their final no-show of the World Cup was probably just a blip. Lose and it will be like going back to wondering.
The rapidly approaching 2020 campaign Six Nations promises to be a fierce battle with different teams looking at the title
Four countries are under new management, while there are a number of promising young stars who desperately want to impress.
Anticipating the promotion, Sportsmail's Sir Clive Woodward goes through everything you need to know about each of the contenders.
THE COACH IN TEN WORDS
EDDIE JONES: Australian, experienced, ambitious. Uses bad humor to ward off serious questions!
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