The XV of France wavers the English, but falls in overtime

The English congratulate Owen Farrell after his winning penalty.

The English press, seeing a young French team appear in the London den of Twickenham, denounced a “farce”. The joke did not make the XV of the rose laugh for long. Determined, eye-catching, daring, Fabien Galthié’s men believed they had won the first edition of the Autumn Nations Cup with historic success on English soil on Sunday 6 December, the first in thirteen years. The Blues bowed on the wire, on a penalty from Owen Farrell in the second period of extra time.

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“It is not the French farce but the French force today. There is no France B but only one France group ”, raised, proud, the third wing Cameron Woki at the end of the meeting.

To achieve a sort of Grand Slam in the fall, after victories against Wales in a friendly, Ireland in the Six Nations Tournament, Scotland then Italy in this first Autumn Cup – born for replace the traditional test-matches of the autumn canceled because of the Covid-19 -, it was necessary to cross a last obstacle, and not the least: England, and at Twickenham. And this, without the main French players, retained by their clubs after having already played their quota of three games with the XV of France, under an agreement between the League and the federation.

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Sudden death

Cameron Woki defends against Englishman Henry Slade

Cameron Woki and his partners came very close to beating the vice world champions. At 30 seconds precisely. On an English touch five meters from the line of the Blues, the English, led 19 to 12, pushed with all their strength a ball carried. And while in the first period the French had held out until the siren, this time they cracked. Luke Cowan Dickie flattened at the foot of the posts, and the English striker Owen Farrell, however clumsy so far against the poles, equalized (19-19).

It is therefore on an improbable extension that the Autumn Nations Cup was played. It took the form of sudden death: the first team to score won the match. The scenario almost came to an end. One minute after the English dispatch, the French were penalized with a penalty, over their 40 meters, in the axis. But Owen Farrell’s attempt found the post. Difficult for the French not to believe in their destiny, while these same poles had allowed Louis Carbonnel to enter a last corner penalty in the second period.

The Blues have entered the English camp several times during extra time, but the vice-world champions have shown great control to recover the ball without making a mistake. And at the start of the second ten-minute extra period, winger Alivereti Raka attempted a hand-throw from those five yards. It was taken over by Maro Itoje, who forced the French to concede a penalty. This time, Owen Farrell did not tremble to deliver the English (22-19).

Owen Farrell with the Fall Nations Cup trophy.

French people uninhibited

Like the English opener, who missed four of his nine kicks, the English are coming back from afar. Because the rejuvenated XV of France – 24 years of average age and barely 68 selections at kickoff against 772 on the English side – played completely uninhibited, like Matthieu Jalibert. The rear was very solid in the kicking game, but above all achieved a stunning framing to launch Brice Dulin with a long pass, who only had to finish the job to score the first try of the match (3- 7, 15e minute).

The “Blues bis” were then not worried about the entire first period, playing mainly in the English camp. Only big alert, two long minutes to defend on the goal line just before the siren. Full of panache, they resisted to lead 13-6 at halftime.

Brice Dulin flattens out to score the only French try of the match.

Eddie Jones’ men raised the tone in the second half, which took place almost entirely in the French camp. But each time, interventions by Gabin Villière on the wing, and the contributions of substitutes like Secou Macalou, allowed the French to hold on. Taking a seven point lead four minutes from the siren, they only missed one last feat to keep the score.

“The guys have done justice to the jersey. They put everything they had. We have to admit defeat but I… It’s frustrating, the match was played on decisions [arbitrales], squeaked Fabien Galthié. With this quasi-feat, the coach will have headaches to compose the team that will face Italy, Saturday February 6, for the Six Nations Tournament. At the end of his first year alone at the head of the XV of France, which began with a victory against the same English at the Stade de France, the game and the results are already there.

In rugby, an Autumn Cup “breath of fresh air” for the federations

Customary with nested calendars, rugby has added an autumn Nations Cup to its agenda this year. France will play the final of this tournament, Sunday, December 6, in Twickenham against England. But this poster is tarnished by the absence of all the French holders: an agreement between the National League and the Federation, torn off hard, prohibited each international from playing more than three matches (out of six), in the name of the preservation of players and clubs, whose season continues in parallel. “This Cup is only cyclical, observes ex-international Thomas Castaignède. It was established to save the finances of the federations. ” As in football, this ” fresh air ” could have repercussions on clubs, as the games follow one another.


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