January 30, 2020 / 4:02 PM / a month ago

Rugby-Ferocious France bracing themselves for England's 'brutal physicality'

PARIS, Jan 30 (Reuters) - France will compensate for their lack of experience with sheer ferocity all over the pitch when they face England in their Six Nations clash on Sunday, head coach Fabien Galthie said.

England manager Eddie Jones warned that his team would unleash a ‘brutal physicality’ at the Stade de France, hoping to put the hosts on the back foot.

Former France captain and Toulon manager Galthie, however, was unfazed and promised that his team, with an average of around 15 caps per player, would fight fire with fire.

“We also have a plan,” Galthie told a news conference after unveiling his team on Thursday.

“Expect a ferocious pack. Expect a ferocious battle to win the ball. Expect my players to stand their ground with ferocious tackles and collisions,” he added.

“They will play with passion and go beyond their limits.”

General manager and former France captain Raphael Ibanez brushed aside Jones’s comments.

“We’ve been around for 30 years and we’ve always been hearing those kind of declarations,” he said.

“This concept of physical violence is interesting. But if you think about it, the England manager and us (Ibanez and Galthie), we have one thing in common: on Sunday we will be in the stands. So it’s easy to talk about physical violence when you’re watching from the stands.”

France, who have not won the Six Nations since 2010, suffered a 44-8 thrashing at Twickenham last year, since when England, who finished as World Cup runners-up in Japan, have made few changes to their team or setup.

Les Bleus, on the other hand, have changed head coach, with Galthie replacing the hugely disappointing Jacques Brunel, and turned their attention to the 2023 World Cup on home soil with a rejuvenated squad.

During a training camp in Nice, Les Bleus have been working at ‘high intensity’, aiming to recreate the physicality of test matches.

“We have to be able to find solutions when we’re tired and under pressure,” said backs coach Laurent Labit.

“There are moments when we lose our clearheadedness, when the phases are long and we find ourselves playing in our own half. That’s exactly where England want to take us.”

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis

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