- Graham Rowntree backing England to create a great rugby memory in Paris
- “Our set piece – scrum, lineout, restarts – has to be immaculate,” says Forwards Coach
Graham Rowntree considers victories over French teams in France to be among his finest rugby memories and he’s backing the current England squad to eclipse his achieve and record a victory over the national team in Paris today.
The Forwards Coach was defeated by France in Paris on three occasions during a distinguished 54-cap England career and instead recalls a thrilling 34-30 win over Stade Francais at the Parc du Princes to lift the European Cup in 2001.
Relishing the fact that Les Blues ensure visiting teams are always tested both physically and mentally, Rowntree believes England are well equipped to meet the challenge, given the qualities they have displayed in their opening three RBS 6 Nations games.
He said: “I look back to my experiences in Europe against French teams and they were some of the greatest rugby memories in my career – winning a European Final against Stade Francais in France.
“It’s always a physical as much as a mental challenge. And playing in a stadium like the Stade de France is great for the guys because the stadium will be electric and a lot of them won’t have played in that before.
“I’m a bit envious of them because it really gets the hair on the back your neck standing up when you come and listen to their anthem, listen to our anthem and hear the crowd.
“I think because of the character we’ve already shown as a squad, if the game’s tight going into the last quarter, it will suit us because the pressure will all be on France. The courage our squad has at the moment, if it is tight at the end – I’ll back us.”
Photo: Getty Images
England have failed to realise their attacking potential in terms of tries – with a pair of Charlie Hodgson chargedowns the total in three games – but Rowntree says England have come to attack.
Given that launching England’s backs relies on good quality ball from all methods of restarting play, Rowntree emphasised the importance of an exemplary set-piece play.
He added: “All parts of our set piece is going to be crucial, we want to play some rugby tomorrow with this team group of players because we’re really coming together. The more experience we’ve had together, the more our game is coming together and I think that showed against Wales.
“Today, our set piece – scrum, lineout, restarts – has to be immaculate.”