Patience is the key against England - Penaud
February 16, 2000

Flyhalf Alain Penaud has a good inside knowledge of English rugby and believes France will have to learn patience to beat England in the Six Nations on Saturday.

Penaud, who played for Saracens for one season before joining French champions Toulouse last year, replaces Christophe Lamaison who injured his knee on Sunday.

"From what I saw during the World Cup, and when I played in England, they have improved dramatically over the last two years and gained a lot of confidence," Penaud said. "They will come here to win for at least two reasons.

"First, because they are convinced that our performance during the World Cup stemmed from mere chance thanks to easy first round matches.

"And then because they have learned a lot recently - they can keep the ball alive tirelessly.

"They are very much more patient than we are," he said. "We, the French, always need to go forward. If we don't we start panicking and we lose the ball."

Penaud said he was really impressed by the 50-18 thrashing of Ireland in England's opening match at Twickenham.

The 30-year-old said he saw very few weaknesses in the strategy of coach Clive Woodward who named an unchanged side on Tuesday.

"They beat the Irish because they forced them to make mistakes and they took the penalty kicks," Penaud said.

"It was obvious that at one stage, Ireland got tired of defending and England started to overwhelm the opposition. They just waited for the right time.

"Their way of playing is not stereotyped any more," he said. "Now they can set up moves whenever they want. Their pack is really good especially the back row with (Lawrence) Dallaglio and (Richard) Hill."

"And they have added some flair in their backs with players who are excellent runners."

The Toulouse playmaker is convinced the first 30 minutes will be decisive on Saturday.

"The only way to beat them is to be as patient as they are," he said. "They will look for a repeat of last year's match when we squandered too much energy defending."

England won that match 21-10.

"Of course, nobody is unbeatable. And our chance may lay in the fact they are still a little bit naive," Penaud said.

"Physically, it's going to be a tough match and the best defence will win."

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