England will be looking for a fast start to their 2020 Six Nations campaign when they take on France on Sunday the 1st of February.
Arguably most settled two teams in the tournament will go head-to-head this Saturday with France playing host to England in another instalment of ‘Le Crunch’. When these two sides met last year the English were dominant running out 44-8 victors at Twickenham. Can Le Bleu exact a spot of revenge or will England take the spoils again?
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
France v England
Sunday 2 February
To Win (80 Mins)
France 31/20 | (+4.5) 9/10
England 11/20 | (-4.5) 9/10
The hosts will head into this one in rather confident mood despite last year’s thrashing at the hands of the English. A lot has changed since the 36-point mauling with a number of young French stars now fully integrated into the national set-up.
Speaking of young French stars, the hosts’ chances may well hinge upon the young shoulders of fly-half Romain Ntamack. The young gun had a trial by fire last season being thrust into the limelight during the latter parts of the 2019 Six Nations. He came through the season rather well, however, and was one of the better performing players during France’s run to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.
It will be interesting to see who partners Ntamack in the 9/10 combination with a number of young scrum-halves enjoying slid showings in the Top 14. The smart money, however, would be on whippet Baptiste Serin, whose solid kicking game and ability to spy a gap around the fringe could put the English pack on the backfoot.
Eddie Jones will be looking to put the woes of the 2019 World Cup final behind him when he sends what may well be a new-look side out into the Stade de France this coming Saturday.
The English mentor has hinted that he will be looking to blood new players during when asked about his side during pre-tournament press Conferences, and it would be no surprise to see talented youngsters such as Lewis Ludlam and Jacob Umaga play some role this weekend.
While the young guns are likely to be given a decent amount of game time during the tournament, Jones will likely start a tried and tested spine this coming week with veterans Willi Heinz and Ben Youngs likely to compete for the nine role; Owen Farrell more than likely to slot in at ten, and Manu Tuilangi set to feature in one of the centre berths.
Verdict: France (+4.5) 9/10
History certainly favours the visitors here with the English winning six of the last eight meetings between the two sides. The French did win the last game between the two sides at the Stade de France, though. The victory came back in 2018.
While I do think the English will win this one, I reckon it won’t be by much. As such, I’m rather confident backing the French on a decent 5.5 plus line.