France expecting a physical clash against England
February 15, 2000

France are expecting a "real boxing match" against England in Paris on Saturday according to coach Bernard Laporte.

In the game that is being hailed by many as the championship decider the home side believe that England will not be found wanting for inspiration after Les Bleus eclipsed their great rivals' efforts at the World Cup.

Laporte said on Monday, "It will be a real boxing match. We'll work on two axis to try to win: One, respond physically; Two, take charge tactically."

French skipper Fabien Pelous added, "The rivalry between France and England has existed since Joan of Arc and it's not about to end. The psychological preparation comes by itself before this kind of clash."

Centre Richard Dourthe was even more forthcoming, "The English don't like the French and the French don't like the English. That's why France-England matches have a particular flavour. But I'm sure that will provide a great and beautiful match."

Both sides go into their second match of the tournament with a victory under their belts.

France beat Wales 36-3 in Cardiff while England routed Ireland 50-18 in London nine days ago.

Dourthe added, "The English will want to show they are still the team to beat in the northern hemisphere. They haven't come to terms with our place in the World Cup final."

France upset World Cup favourites New Zealand 43-31 in a memorable semifinal at England's Twickenham home. But Pelous said a better guide of French form was their opening Six Nations victory against the Welsh.

He said, "We have to be realistic. Our match against the All Blacks is something you don't repeat 10 times in a whole career."

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