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England fans may feel aggrieved by their defeat to Wales a couple of weeks ago, though for all the questionable refereeing decisions it was England’s discipline that ultimately cost them the win that day, and it’s something that coach Eddie Jones has addressed behind closed doors as his side have now averaged 13.6 penalties per game.
That defeat has all but ended England’s chances of defending their title, and their opponents here are very much in the running to steal that crown.
Having had their match against Scotland postponed a fortnight ago owing to a covid outbreak, you could argue that this side are well rested, though that would entirely depend on how badly the individuals involved were affected.
Defence coach Shaun Edwards has reiterated that Les Bleus are raring to go and that this outbreak hasn’t disrupted the camp at all, and that’s reflected in the team they’ve put out.
Unsurprisingly, the visitors have opted to field a very strong team, and with Wales facing Italy in the earlier match, we’d expect France to go gung-ho here.
Symbolic of that is the return of Virimi Vakatawa in the centres, which will only add to their attacking potency at Twickenham as they look to improve their poor record here.
France To Beat England
They’ve not won against England here since 2007, which was one of just two victories at Twickenham since the turn of the century. We’d be more inclined to ignore that record now than ever before, however, considering this is undoubtedly the best France side since that last win.
The other thing working in the hosts favour is the fact that they’re just that: hosts. They’ve only lost three matches here under Eddie Jones, with two coming early on in the Australian’s tenure against strong New Zealand and Ireland sides.
The worry being the most recent of those three defeats came against Scotland last month, and the lack of fans was certainly a defining factor in that result, and we’d fully expect this France side to take it to England here, so at odds-against, that’s certainly the way to go.
England v France Teams
England: 15 Max Malins, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ollie Lawrence, 23 Elliot Daly
France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Damian Penaud, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon (c), 6 Dylan Cretin, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Romain Taofifenua, 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Cyril Cazeaux, 20 Cameron Woki, 21 Anthony Jelonch, 22 Baptiste Serin, 23 Romain Ntamack