- England Students prepared for physical France encounter
- Captain Beaumont looking to build on winning platform
Photo: Tania Richards
After an historic first win in Portugal last month, England Students take on France Universities at Richmond this Friday night (February 22), with last year’s defeat in Versailles still fresh in the memory.
Captain Josh Beaumont is one of just two members of the current group with previous Students experience and spoke of his ambition to follow up the triumph in Lisbon with a win against the French.
“We were absolutely delighted with the win against a full IRB-affiliated country and it was a testament to all the hard work put in by the coaches, management team and players,” he said.
“It was a great way to start the season and it now gives us a platform to build on. Yes, we won the game against a strong outfit but for us the preparation for the France game pretty much began after the final whistle in Lisbon.
“We’ve looked at where we can improve and for me that would be trying to be a little bit more clinical and expansive with ball in hand. There are a number of guys in the squad that have the ability to hurt defences given half an opportunity and I guess we will be looking to run at the French as often as we can.
Photo: Tania Richards
“The other key area for us is how we deal with the physicality of the France team. They are aggressive and unrelenting in the contact and we will have to match that for eighty minutes. I was really pleased with how the new boys adapted to the intensity of the game at this level in Portugal and we will need more of the same, from everyone, next Friday evening.”
It is a first, and only, opportunity for James Farndon’s men to play on home soil as after the encounter in Richmond the schedule for the Students reaches a conclusion at Rodney Parade, Newport on Sunday, March 17, when they take on Wales Students.
Beaumont clearly emphasised the need to concentrate on one job at a time but also urged his teammates to use the opportunity to gain further exposure.
“To play for England at any level is a huge honour and for a lot of the boys it’s the last chance they may have as they reach the end of their university careers.
“It’s absolutely vital we retain the focus and concentrate on doing the job on Friday, first and foremost. University rugby is put on the back-burner for a fortnight or so but one thing I would say to the guys is enjoy it and stay composed – you never know who is watching and it could lead to even greater things.”