England must treat French game like World Cup final, says Dallaglio
Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio has urged Eddie Jones’s team to treat tomorrow’s Super Saturday Six Nations match with France as a World Cup final.
England cannot win the title in Paris but do have a chance to end a disappointing championship on a high and deny one of the in-form international sides their first Grand Slam since 2010.
“I know they [Eddie Jones and England] talked about matches being a quarter-final, semi-final and final but this is still a final,” former British and Irish Lion Dallaglio told City A.M.
“If you approach it in any other way, it can be very dangerous. I’ve won there and I’ve lost there and it’s a hostile environment.
“It depends on what French team you’re playing against but there’s no doubt this French team is full of confidence.
“They’re very well coached and disciplined and they’ve got some world-class players in their pack and their backs.”
If England were to win at the Stade de France, it would mark the first time since 1996 that they had denied a side a Grand Slam when they were unable to win it themselves.
The permutations for the match in Paris will not be clear until Ireland have played Scotland in Dublin earlier on Saturday.
A Scottish win will mean the Six Nations is France’s with just the Grand Slam to achieve. If Ireland win, it gets complicated and there could be a multitude of ways Les Bleus could win or lose the title.
“I think the two teams that are playing for the title, France and Ireland, have been head and shoulders above everyone else,” Dallaglio added.
“The Test match they played in round two was probably the best one of the tournament – there was no doubting either team’s quality.
“I think the key was both of them having very good autumns.
As with England, both were unbeaten but when you add [beating] the All Blacks into the mix the signs were there.
“I think the fixture list has slightly favoured France in that they’ve had Ireland and England at home. If they could sort out their away form they knew they’d have a chance to win the title – they have done that, even playing badly last week.
“I say this reluctantly but England are at a different stage at the moment. I think they’re a long way away.”
It was long understood that the French fans had fallen out of love with their national team but the autumn proved they’re more eager than ever to be present for their side’s success.
“The French crowd can be a funny old crowd sometimes,” Dallaglio said. “They’ve had years and years of not watching some of their best players play and now they’ve got something different going on. They’re really getting behind their team.
“There’s no better challenge in rugby than going away from home to a really hostile environment to see what you’re made of and to test your character.
“England are going to need all of that. They’re going to have to go up a level from what we saw against Ireland.”
Lawrence Dallaglio was speaking to City A.M. ahead of his RugbyWorks charity event next Thursday at Boisdale Canary Wharf. Tickets can be purchased at www.dallagliorugbyworks.com/get-involved/events/six-nations-lunch