France are aiming for a first championship win at Twickenham since 2005


There is not much that Fabien Galthié’s France are yet to achieve but winning at Twickenham is on the list. Les Bleus are thought to have been targeting the Six Nations England v France clash on Saturday as the visitors are without a championship win at HQ since 2005.

After losing to Ireland and getting away with a scare at home to Scotland as a 19-0 lead eroded before their eyes, many are detecting a new-found sense of mortality in last year’s Grand Slam champions. With a home World Cup around the corner, France will be eager to set the record straight with a commanding display against England.

Steve Borthwick has made his boldest selection call yet, dropping captain Owen Farrell to the bench and handing Marcus Smith the keys to No 10. Farrell was last warming the bench in the 2015 Rugby World Cup against Fiji, so it will be interesting to see how the Saracens man responds to his new role.

Smith has the chance to put down a real marker for an England side, who outside of fly-half seem settled in selection with Ellis Genge leading his country for the first time.

England beat Italy and Wales without impressing to any great lengths but make no mistake, a win over the world’s second-best side would be a genuine marker of progress under the new boss.

Here’s all you need to know about England v France.

What is the team news for England v France?

Read more: England Six Nations squad to face France

Jonathan Danty returns at inside centre after a knee injury and will be eyeing up Marcus Smith’s channel. Anthony Jelonch looks set to miss the World Cup after tearing his ACL against Scotland so Francois Cros wears No 6.

Yoram Moefana drops to the bench for France where he is joined by the returning Melvyn Jaminet after Matthieu Jalibert picked up an injury in training. Maxime Lucu returns as scrum-half cover for skipper Antoine Dupont.

Related: France Six Nations squad to face England

With two tighthead props in Uini Atonio and Mohamed Haouas banned, Toulouse’s Dorian Aldegheri will pack down opposite Ellis Genge with Sipili Falatea retaining his role as a replacement.

Courtney Lawes is out of the championship with a shoulder injury, so Northampton Saints team-mate David Ribbans takes his spot as second-row cover on the bench for England.

What are the line-ups for England v France?

ENGLAND: Freddie Steward; Max Malins, Henry Slade, Ollie Lawrence, Anthony Watson; Marcus Smith, Jack van Poortvliet; Ellis Genge (captain), Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Ollie Chessum, Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis, Alex Dombrandt

Replacements: Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, David Ribbans, Ben Curry, Alex Mitchell, Owen Farrell, Henry Arundell

FRANCE: Thomas Ramos; Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Ethan Dumortier; Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont (c); Gregory Alldritt, Charles Ollivon, Francois Cros, Paul Willemse, Thibaud Flament, Dorian Aldegheri, Julien Marchand, Cyril Baille

Replacements: Peato Mauvaka, Reda Wardi, Sipili Falatea, Romain Taofifenua, Sekou Macalou, Maxime Lucu, Yoram Moefana, Melvyn Jaminet

What have the coaches said?

England head coach Steve Borthwick said: “Over the last three years France have built a formidable side and with just three games behind us, this England team has an excellent opportunity to test itself against one of the very best teams in the world, as we progress and build on the foundations we have put in place in the short time we have been together.

“The players selected to face our visitors are again a reflection of what I see to be the right balance of personnel for the challenge we face in this game.”

France head coach Fabien Galthié said: “Jonathan Danty coming back is big for us, he has brought us a lot in his style of play and works well with Gaël.

“The mark of our team for four years is to be stubborn. It is true that at the moment we are not in front, but we have the will not to let go of the trophy. We have always fought, sometimes with difficult scenarios, to seek victory. The players have done everything possible to leave as little room for uncertainty, to prepare as best as possible for this challenge.”

Any interesting statistics for England v France?

  • The home team on the day has won each of the last six Guinness Six Nations matches between England and France, with each side winning three games apiece during that spell, however, France haven’t won at Twickenham in the Championship since 2005 (18-17).
  • England have won each of their last two Guinness Six Nations matches, each by margins of 10+ points, after losing three in a row previously; they haven’t won three consecutive matches in the Championship since 2020 (W4) and they’ve not won three in a row by double-figure margins since 2009-10.
  • France have won seven of their eight matches in the Guinness Six Nations since the start of last year’s Championship (L1), however, their sole defeat during that period came in their most recent away match (19-32 v Ireland in Round 2).
  • France’s Thibaud Flament (58) has made the most tackles of any player in the Guinness Six Nations this year, while England trio Lewis Ludlam (6), Maro Itoje (5) and Ben Curry (5) make up half of the six players to have made 5+ dominant tackles in the Championship this year

What time does England v France kick-off and is it on TV?

Related: How to watch the Six Nations from anywhere

England v France is live on ITV for viewers in the UK with kick-off at 4.45pm GMT. Coverage starts at 4.15pm and you can stream the action ITVX.

Radio listeners can tune into BBC Radio 5Live for commentary of Le Crunch.

Who is the referee for England v France?

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referee 1: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referee 2: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

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