FRANCE (22) vs ENGLAND (24)
Head coach Lancaster salutes his greatest victory and players desperate for him to remain in charge
ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster received the unequivocal backing of his players after he masterminded yesterday’s landmark Six Nations victory over France but the man himself refused to be drawn on his prospects of landing the job on a permanent basis.
Tries from Manu Tuilagi and Ben Foden, allied to a near flawless kicking display from Owen Farrell, helped the Red Rose roar into an early 14-3 lead.
But just as they had done in last week’s equally thrilling draw against Ireland, France staged a second half revival and had pulled to within two points by the time Tom Croft’s late dash for the line secured England’s third away success of the tournament.
Francois Trinh-Duc could still have won the match for Les Bleus but failed with a drop-goal attempt that came shortly after Wesley Fofana’s smartly taken try breathed unlikely life back into a gripping contest.
Lancaster may have to wait to discover his fate until the end of the Six Nations, but beating France would have gone a long way to strengthening his case – not that the former Saxons coach was ready to admit it.
“I am very proud to come to the Stade de France and get a win, where few sides have done that recently,” he said. “It’s not about me. It is about the team. We lacked experience in terms of caps but we have a huge amount of self-belief in the direction we are going.”
Lancaster may have taken the modest option following the biggest win of his career which leaves England with a slim mathematical chance of retaining their title, but his charges were more than prepared to come out in support of his head coach’s credentials.
Captain Chris Robshaw said: “Yes, we’d like to see the coaching team stay. They have created a great environment for us to go out there and play and of course as players we will back them to keep on doing it.”
Try-scorer Foden added: “Stuart has been honest with all the players and the media. All the boys are behind him and we all buy into what he is trying to build.”