Posts Tagged ‘France’

France 12 – 66 England

June 14, 2009

I can’t remember the last time I felt this bad about an English side thrashing another team. England cantered to a very large victory in Paris yesterday against a very lacklustre French outfit that for the first half at least looked like they couldn’t be bothered. Although England will no doubt give all that talk about ‘beating what’s put in front of you’ and will no doubt be pleased with the result, it was a match that gave us no real indication as to how good this England side really is, because the home side were so bad. 

From the moment Ryan Atkins went over for England’s first try in the seventh minute, this game was over. England continued scoring at slightly over a point a minute for the rest of the first half, and even though they did it with some nice long range efforts, it should be pointed out that France seemed to offer minimal resistance. Their defensive structures were absolutely appalling and left far too much space on the fringes for English players to run into untouched. On the odd occasion that they actually managed to get to a player like Gareth Hock, they were still usually powerless to stop the offload. France were missing some of their front-line forward pack (Fakir, Elima etc.) but the guys who replaced them offered no fight down the middle. France were barely able to get out of their own half. It was not a good start for Bobby Goulding. I know he wants to avoid using French-based Australians, but if Clint Greenshields makes himself available for the 4 Nations, is Goulding really in a position to turn him down?

As for England, I’m not sure how much we learned apart from the fact that they can thrash a poor French side. Nobody looked out of place and I was glad to see Ryan Hall go well on debut because the wing is a position where England really need players to step up a level or two. It has to be said that the pack completely dominated the French and seemed to make twice as much ground per set as their cross-channel counterparts. Of course, whether they could do such a thing against the Kiwis or Kangaroos remains to be seen, and I would be skeptical about that happening. 

I was hoping this would be a closer game, because it would be extremely beneficial for both sides if England and France could partake in a close game each year. England really need a boost in intensity, and I don’t think France at the moment provide it. Now I don’t think we should stop playing these games, but France really need to look at what they can do to raise their standards. The most worrying thing about this result is that it casts a shadow of doubt over the 4 Nations. If England can do that to France without ever really getting out of second gear, then what are the Kangaroos at full pelt going to do? Hopefully France raise their game so we don’t have to find out an answer to that…


File Under ‘Curious’: Bobby Goulding named new France Coach

February 28, 2009
At the very least, he should be well up for it (Clive Brunskill / Allsport)

At the very least, he should be well up for it (Clive Brunskill / Allsport)

It was announced yesterday that former St Helens and Great Britain scrum-half Bobby Goulding has been appointed as Coach of the French National Team in the wake of John Monie’s contract not being renewed. Goulding has signed a three-year contract and is entrusted with lifting the standard of Les Tricolores after what can only be described as an embarassing World Cup.

Well, I didn’t see this one coming at all. Goulding had done relatively well as coach of Rochdale a few seasons ago but had left the job after being frustated with the club’s attitude. That’s not exactly the coaching CV of an obviously international caliber coach. The first inclination is to consider this a bad choice, what with Goulding’s lack of experience and seeming lack of temperament for high level coaching.

Then again, who knows how well he might go? I’m not sure how much further France could sink right now and he might just give them the kick up the arse that they need. I suspect a lot of it could hinge on his choices for assistants, as he’s going to be under a lot of pressure from the off (Test against England, a Four Nations to worry about) and he’s going to need to spread some of that around. I’m inclined to give Goulding a bit of time to show us what he can do before ripping into him. I suspect this should at least be fun to watch either way.

Four Nations Fixtures Released, Reveal Shockingly Conservative Approach

February 23, 2009

Today the RFL released details fo the upcoming Four Nations dates and venues, and there’s more than a few surprises involved, none of them particularly nice:

24/25 October:

England v France Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster

Australia v New Zealand The Stoop, London

1/2 November:

England v Australia JJB Stadium, Wigan

France v New Zealand TBC, France

8/9 November:

England v New Zealand Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield

France v Australia TBC, France

14 November:

Final Elland Road, Leeds

That first weekend in particular is shockingly revealing of low confidence in the drawing power of the Four Nations, not to mention reeking of a money-saving mindset. I understand that there’s a credit crunch going on and that everybody wants to keep the extra pennies, but it really creats an image problem when what is supposed to be the premier event on the Rugby League international calendar opens up in stadiums with just over 27,000 capacity between them. On the plus side I would imagine that the Stoop would sell out, which in another respect is disappointing as the Kangaroos and Kiwis sold out a bigger ground in Loftus Road only a few years ago and I suspect that they could do it again. I also understand the logic of choosing the Keepmoat for the France game (the crowd for the Wales game last year was a pleasant surprise) but really they should be aiming for a higher crowd. Considering the talk in the lead up to the World Cup of going to Wembley for a game against Australia, the JJB Stadium can’t help be be a disappointment.

More than anything else, it seems to show that the RFL don’t have much confidence in England’s ability as a draw, and after the World Cup why would they? France haven’t exactly looked hot in the last year either, and there seems to be a genuine fear that this will be a damage limitation exercise. This should be a premier event for Rugby League in this country, yet people seem to be fearing that it turns into a disaster. Unfortunately, with that sort of mindset it probably will turn into a disaster. I’m really hoping now that England reach the Final at Elland Rd and put in at the very least a credible performance, because it’s hard to see the RFL being willing to expand the potential exposure they could get if England are going to just crap on the stage again.

Aftermath: France vs Scotland

October 27, 2008

I’ll have to keep this one quick, as it should have been done earlier (my bad). France won an exciting game against Scotland, but the Bravehearts can be pleased with their performance.Both teams scored some wonderful tries and put on a real handling clinic. However, both teams need to sort out their discipline. If France in particular can do that, then they will be a real force to be reckoned with.

All the halves on show had pretty good games, which usually leads to exciting affairs. In particular Thomas Bosc put on some fantastic kicks and he really should kick on in this tournament. Danny Brough started off slow but once he found his rythmn he was influential for Scotland and led them around the park in a proper captain’s knock.

One person who didn’t come out of the game with an enhanced reputation was Michael Robertson. Considering he was supposedly on the brink of Kangaroos selection he came across as rather ordinary. He made a nice run with his first kick-return, only to drop the ball and give France good field position. It’s possible that Scotland should think of moving him back to the wing, as they did appear to like spreading it wide.

In the end the real difference was the French bench. James Wynne had an influential game once he came on, and he and Julien Rinaldi form a dangerous dummy-half combo. They also had slightly more fire down the middle, and they will need it against Fiji. They will also need to cut out the mistakes and avoid giving up field position. Overall though, both sides have positives they can take out of the game, although France take away the most important one of all: the win.

LIVE: France vs Scotland

October 26, 2008

note: please keep refreshing this page every so often, using the button at the top of your browser, or by pressing F5

Gnnnnhhhh… what time is it? Why am I up?


France: Jared Taylor; Justin Murphy, John Wilson, Sebastien Raguin, Teddy Sadaoui; Thomas Bosc, Maxime Greseque; Adel Fellous, Julien Rinaldi, Olivier Elima; Jerome Guisset, Eric Anselme; Gregory Mounis.

Replacements: James Wynne, Remi Casty,  Jamal Fakir, Christophe Moly, Laurent Carrasco. (one to be omitted)

Scotland: Michael Robertson; Dean Colton, Dean Cowan, Kevin Henderson, Jon Steel; John Duffy, Danny Brough (c); Scott Logan, Ian Henderson, Paul Jackson; Iain Morrison, Duncan MacGillivray; Lee Patterson.

Replacements: Oliver Wilkes, Chris Armit, Mick Nanyn, Andrew Henderson

God, the Scots should have taken singing lessons…


Teamsheets: France vs Scotland

October 25, 2008

In all the craziness of getting the group previews done last night and watching the game today, I haven’t had time to put this up yet:


France: Jared Taylor; Justin Murphy, John Wilson, Sebastien Raguin, Teddy Sadaoui; Thomas Bosc, Maxime Greseque; Adel Fellous, Julien Rinaldi, Olivier Elima; Jerome Guisset, Eric Anselme; Gregory Mounis.

Replacements: James Wynne, Remi Casty,  Jamal Fakir, Christophe Moly, Laurent Carrasco. (one to be omitted)

Scotland: Michael Robertson; Dean Colton, Dean Cowan, Kevin Henderson, Jon Steel; John Duffy, Danny Brough (c); Scott Logan, Ian Henderson, Paul Jackson; Iain Morrison, Duncan MacGillivray; Lee Patterson.

Replacements: Oliver Wilkes, Chris Armit, Mick Nanyn, Andrew Henderson

Brief Thoughts:

  • I assume putting Michael Robertson at full-back is a ploy to get him more involved. Could be a smart move.
  • France have a monster pack, with all of the starting forwards coming off the back of good Super League seasons (except Anselme, and even he did well in his short stint at Leeds)
  • Danny Brough may have to pull out an extra-special game for this match, although between him and Ian Henderson at hooker the Bravehearts should have plenty of smarts.
  • With Sebastian Raguin in the centres for France, there’s a rather brutish edge to their back-line (not that he’s lacking in ball skills)
  • Fakir running off the bench into a tired Scottish pack could be fun

I hope to be live-scoring for this game as well, but I make no promises.

Group B: France – Dragons need to fire for talented Tricolores

October 22, 2008

The Good: Well, the bulk of this squad are naturally from Catalan Dragons who just had their most successful season ever in Super League, reaching the play-offs with an exciting brand of football. There have even been French players succeeding at English clubs as well, from Julien Rinaldi at Harlequins to Eric Anselseme’s brief cameo during Leed’s run to the title.

The Bad: last time out, France were simply ripped apart by England. It’s odd, but in recent years France seem to have done much worse against England than against Australia or New Zealand, perhaps because they’ve played the southern hemisphere sides when they’ve had their foot off the accelerator. In this World Cup, everything will be at full throttle and France need to prove that they can keep up the pace. This means a lot of their non-Super League players are really going to have to step up a level.

The Ugly:
French rugby is only only ugly when it fails in its attempts to be beautiful. Although when French rugby doesn’t work, it tends to really not work.

The Key:
The Catalan players have been performing at a high level all season. Can the Elite League players step to that level as well? Will there be enough cohesion within this side for them to take the ball out wide and play an expansive game?

The Coach: John Monie is one of the most successful coaches in the history of the game, winning titles in Australia and in England with Wigan in two separate spells. After a minor break from top level coaching, he’s back on the international stage. He’s had a mixed level of success so far; beating Papua New Guinea, losing narrowly to New Zealand, and losing horribly to England at home. Can he get France performing consistently?

Star Man: It was thought that Catalan Dragons would have a massive hole to fill with Stacey Jones retiring last season, and Thomas Bosc proved to be a damn good poly-filler. Moving in from the wing position to stand-off  he was the second-highest point-scorer in Super League, and perhaps more surprisingly he led the league in Try Assists. If Bosc can move up another level into international class, then France will really be rolling. Look for him to get his backs into the game and for his potent attacking kicking game.

Dimitri Pelos long Rugby League journey has lead him to a Tricolores jersey.

Dimitri Pelo's long Rugby League journey has lead him to a Tricolores jersey.

Wild Card: Maxime Greseque has been a big name in French Rugby League for a while now, but he’s he’s not particularly well known to British fans. He’s generally spent his career playing in the French Elite League, and bar a stint at Featherstone and a very brief spell at Wakefield last year he’s not really played much club rugby at a higher level (due to being distracted by silly things like law degrees). Despite this, he’s generally been a success story in France’s one-off Tests against the major nations. If he’s able to perform on a consistent basis in this World Cup and work with Bosc, then France will definitely be more likely to be an exhilarating team to watch.

Young Gun: Dimitri Pelo has had travelled a bit in his life, from New Caledonia to Australia to Catalonia. He’s also had a pretty solid start to his Super League career, and has become a fixture on the Dragons wing. If he can become a regular in the France side then it will be a nice boon for the Tricolores.

In Conclusion… France will start as favourites in Group B, and rightly so. Their squad contains many talented players who are coming off the back of superb seasons. Their forwards should be up for some tasty confrontations with Fiji and Scotland, and their backs should hopefully play with the panache and gallic flair that we all demand. Hopefully they should be one of the most entertaining teams at this World Cup. Will that be enough to reach the semi-finals? Their opening game against Scotland in Canberra will go a long way to answering that question.

Squad: Eric Anselme (Leeds), Jean-Philippe Baile (Catalans Dragons) Jean-Christophe Borlin (Saint-Gaudens), Thomas Bosc (Catalans Dragons), Laurent Carrasco (Villeneuve), Remi Casty (Catalans Dragons), Olivier Elima (Catalans Dragons), Jamal Fakir (Catalans Dragons), Adel Fellous (Lezignan), Maxime Greseque (Pia), Matthieu Grifi (Catalans Dragons), Jerome Guisset (captain, Catalans Dragons), Christophe Moly (Carcassonne), Gregory Mounis (Catalans Dragons), Justin Murphy (Catalans Dragons), Dimitri Pelo (Catalans Dragons), Sebastien Planas (Toulouse), Sebastien Raguin (Catalans Dragons), Julien Rinaldi (Harlequins), Teddy Sadaoui (Carcassonne), Jared Taylor (Lezignan), John Wilson (Catalans Dragons), James Wynne (Lezignan).

Group B: French and Fijian flair to collide with Scottish bravery

October 22, 2008

As sceptical as I am about the format of this World Cup, I have to admit it has thrown up some intriguing match-ups. Obviously in Group A we will get a clearer picture of how the major three teams stack up against each other, but also in the other two groups we get matches that challenge the tipping skills of even the most clued-in League fan. Group B manages to throw up three sides who were it not for the World Cup would unlikely ever be playing each other. The fact that France and Scotland rarely get to play each other (before last year’s friendly, their last encounter was in the Euro Nations Cup in 2003, with Scotland prevailing 8-6) says something about the state of international affairs, but neither side will have had much exposure to Fiji.

This could prove to be a very tight group, with no side seemingly standing out from the others. All of them have a sprinkling of top-quality players combined with a steady supply of solid performers. They should all be fairly exciting teams to watch as well, each with a clutch of attacking-minded players. They all also have different sources for their lower-grade players, which means that we will be seeing players in this group from different levels all around the world. It all combines to make this perhaps the most fascinating and delicately poised group in the World Cup.