England rugby: Eddie Jones warned he faces an ‘angry’ France side in Six Nations showdown | Rugby | Sport


Sale wing Chris Ashton, who was the top tryscorer in France last season with Toulon, knows the French psyche and believes they will come out fighting after they blew a 16-point lead in Paris.

“We’ve got a big Test against France – an angry France,” said Ashton. “They will be up for the game against us a little bit more now than they would have been had they got the win.

“We’ll be at home, which is in our favour, but it will be an angry French team, desperate to make up for the last 20 minutes of that game against Wales.

“If we know anything about the French, it’s that they love a reaction. They’ll definitely be putting everything into winning. They’ll have to really, in the situation they are in after losing at home. Their backs are against the wall and we expect nothing less.

“It’s really unusual for them to lose like that at home so I’m sure there will be repercussions.”

France have lost on their last six visits to Twickenham in the Six Nations, a run which has coincided with relentless underperformance in the championship.

Ashton puts this in part down to the limitations of the Top 14 – the wealthiest league in Europe but the stodgiest too.

“The speed of their domestic game is definitely affecting the step up to international level,” he said. “The Top 14 is a slow stop/start game. When you’re in an international game it’s the highest intensity it could possibly be whereas their league isn’t at that level. I’m speaking from experience. It’s not anywhere near.

“Maybe that step up shocks them in that first couple of games but they will get up to speed very quickly. I’d definitely say the Premiership is a lot more intense. The ball is in play a lot more and the whole game is a lot quicker.”

England are resigned to being without Maro Itoje, most likely for the remainder of the championship, with a knee injury, although he has an outside chance of playing in the final game against Scotland.

“He would be a massive loss. He’s one of the best players in the world,” said Ashton, a former team-mate at Saracens. “Within the group he is starting to show himself as one of the main leaders in the team. That was always going to be inevitable with the person and player he is.”

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