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England v France – the vital stats

09 March 2012

  • All the facts and stats on England vs France
  • Get up to speed on where, when and who to watch 
Ben Foden takes a high ball

Photo: Getty Images

Though a last-gasp Scott Williams try at Twickenham a fortnight ago shattered England’s Grand Slam dreams, there were many reasons to be cheerful. Stuart Lancaster’s charges produced a much-improved performance, roared on by a passionate HQ crowd, and seemed reinvigorated despite ultimately sinking to a 19-12 loss.

The men in white now face another challenge, as they travel to the Stade de France for their third away assignment of this season’s RBS 6 Nations. Les Bleus are smarting after a 17-17 draw with Ireland on Sunday and, with a new half-back pairing, will be keen to put the record straight.

England, looking to plunder their first win across the Channel since 2008, will have to stand firm to avenge the ignominy of defeat in the last version of ‘Le Crunch’ – at the quarter-final stage of the Rugby World Cup back in October. Check out all the stats and facts ahead of the latest episode in one of world rugby’s most thrilling rivalries.

When? Sunday, March 11
Where? Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France
Kick-off? 3pm (UK time)

How to keep up with the action

  • Live on BBC One from 2.30pm
  • Listen live on BBC Five live
  • Live text commentary on the free RFU iPhone app (search the app store for Official RFU)
  • Live score updates from Official_RFU on Twitter
  • Match report, post-match interviews and highlights on

The teams


15 Ben Foden (Northampton Saints); 14 Chris Ashton (Northampton Saints), 13 Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), 12 Brad Barritt (Saracens), 11 David Strettle (Saracens); 10 Owen Farrell (Saracens), 9 Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints); 1 Alex Corbisiero (London Irish), 2 Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), 3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers); 4 Mouritz Botha (Saracens), 5 Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers); 6 Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), 7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain), 8 Ben Morgan (Scarlets). 
Replacements: 16. Rob Webber (London Wasps), 17 Matt Stevens (Saracens), 18 Tom Palmer (Stade Francais), 19 Phil Dowson (Northampton Saints), 20 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers), 21 Charlie Hodgson (Saracens), 22 Mike Brown (Harlequins).


15 Clement Poitrenaud (Toulouse), 14 Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), 13 Aurelien Rougérie (Clermont Auvergne), 12 Wesley Fofana (Perpignan), 11 Julien Malzieu (Clermont Auvernge), 10 Lionel Beauxis (Toulouse), 9 Julien Dupuy (Stade Francais), 8 Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz), 7 Julien Bonnaire (Clermont Auvergne), 6 Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse, captain), 5 Yohann Maestri (Toulouse), 4 Pascal Papé (Stade Francais), 3 Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), 2 Dmitri Szarzewski (Stade Francais), 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux (Toulouse).
Replacements: 16 William Servat (Toulouse), 17 Vincent Debaty (Perpignan), 18 Lionel Nallet (Racing Metro), 19 Louis Picamoles (Toulouse), 20 Morgan Parra (Clermont Auvergne), 21 Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), 22 Maxime Mermoz (Perpignan).

What the coaches say

Stuart Lancaster (England): "We’ve had a good week following on from the Loughborough training camp and the players have been very positive and focused. We were really disappointed to lose to Wales but we took a lot out of the performance and felt it was right to pick the same starting team to go to Paris.

"It will be a massive challenge going to the Stade de France and playing against an experienced and unbeaten French side but we are excited about the opportunity and want to do the country proud."

Tom Croft tackles Vincent Clerc during England's quarter-final defeat to France

Photo: Getty Images

Philippe Saint-Andre (France): "We are both teams who, so far this season, have failed to unleash the full potential of their backs and one day that will happen. But these ‘crunch’ games are particular matches and I feel this is our best selection for Sunday which is a big game.

"It will be like a semi-final. Whoever wins on Sunday will at least have a chance on the final week to challenge for the Six Nations title."

Head to head

  • Played 95, England won 51, France won 37, drawn 7
  • Highest scores – England 48-19 in 2001; France 37-12 in 1972
  • Biggest wins – England 37-0 in 2001; France 37-12 in 1972 and 31-6 in 2006

Previous ten meetings

  • 2011 England 12-19 France (RWC quarter-final)
  • 2011 England 17-9 France
  • 2010 France 12-10 England
  • 2009 England 34-10 France
  • 2008 France 13-24 England
  • 2007 France 9-14 England (RWC semi-final)
  • 2007 France 22-9 England (RWC warm-up match)
  • 2007 England 15-21 France (RWC warm-up match)
  • 2007 England 26-18 France
  • 2006 France 31-6 England

England key facts

  • IRB world ranking: 6
  • Most capped player: Jason Leonard (114 caps, 1990 to 2004)
  • Most consecutive Test wins: 14 (2002 to 2003)

France key facts

  • IRB world ranking: 4
  • Most capped player: Fabien Pelous (118 caps, 1995 to 2007)
  • Most consecutive Test wins: 10 (1931 to 1937)

Did you know?

  • Coming into the France line-up at scrum half for the first time in this season’s RBS 6 Nations, this is Julien Dupuy’s first start in an international since November 2009 – a period that included a six-month ban from the game for eye-gouging Ulster's Stephen Ferris while playing for Stade Francais.
  • Out of England match-day 22, only Tom Croft and Matt Stevens featured in England last win in France. The pair came on as replacements replacements in a 24-13 victory back in 2008.
  • The first time France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre was involved in ‘Le Crunch’ as a player, he scored what was later voted the best try in the venues history. France were still beaten 21-19, however.
  • Karl Dickson, brother of England’s starting scrum half Lee who travels with the visitors as 24th man, gave up rugby for three years to concentrate on football while studying for a sports and exercise science degree at Coventry University.
  • Wesley Fofana now has three tries from his first three internationals but has a fair way to go to topple his most prolific teammate, Vincent Clerc. The Toulouse flyer - who also scored three in his first three Tests - has crossed the whitewash 32 times for his country.