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Tale of the tape: England vs France

26 February 2013

  • RFU.com looks at the stats from England France with the team analysts
  • Manu Tuilagi took five of seven carries over gain line with two clean breaks
England analysts Mike Hughes (L) and Duncan Locke

Photo: Getty Images

The score line is the only statistic that matters, evidenced by England’s delight after the 23-13 victory over France at Twickenham. But more detailed analysis can also provide a view on the game so RFU.com called on the unique insight of the people who supply the England coaches with in-game data, analysts Michael Hughes and Duncan Locke, to see what other stories the match stats have to tell.

This is what they had to say:

"The victory over France was a tight affair – England had 52 per cent possession and 60 per cent territory, with 59 possessions to France’s 57 – but there are a number of factors which show the control we eventually achieved and how we dominated the final quarter.

"Starting scrum half Ben Youngs completed 37 passes in 58 minutes on the field but replacement Danny Care made 28 in his 22 minutes on the field. France had 19 possessions in the last 20 minutes of the match and England forced them to turn the ball over eight times.

England back row Tom Wood rises to collect a line out against France

Photo: Getty Images

"The results of this was that after the game was at 17-13 for 13 second-half minutes, penalties from replacement Toby Flood in the 73rd and 76th minutes sealed the victory. England’s bench made the desired impact with James Haskell making 10 tackles and hitting 12 breakdowns while Tom Youngs made six tackles and took all of his carries over the gain line.

"Chances in the “Red Zone” were at a premium – England only spent one minute five seconds in France’s 22 compared to 7:22 against Scotland – which meant it was important to keep the scoreboard moving. England converted six of seven penalties with Owen Farrell (four of five) and Flood (two from two) kicking confidently. 

"England had a severe examination at the set piece, with again a steady improvement in the second half. Our line out operated at 88 per cent, with Geoff Parling snaring five, Tom Wood grabbing four and Chris Robshaw taking four. We lost two of six scrums on our own ball (France lost one of their six) and overall we lost the penalty count two to one in that area.

"Defensively there were some impressive performances from the usual suspects. Wood was top tackler with 23, while Joe Launchbury made 18, Robshaw 17 and Brad Barritt 16. In terms of attending rucks in attack and defence, Launchbury hit 33, Robshaw 31 and Parling 30.

England prop Dan Cole carries the ball into contact during the victory over France

Photo: Getty Images

"Overall, tight head prop Dan Cole produced some impressive numbers. As well as pilfering two turnovers, he made nine tackles (at 100 per cent success rate), hit 30 breakdowns and took 67 per cent of his carries across the gain line.

"In attack, Manu Tuilagi was outstanding. In addition to a great pick-up and acceleration for his try he threatened every time he got the ball. He carried seven times and got across the advantage line with five (67 per cent), made two clean breaks, one half break and dominated his tackler on three occasions.

"Robshaw’s appetite to carry was also immense, carrying 16 times, with eight across the gain line. And in pure gain line percentage terms,  Mike Brown again topped the stats, taking 75 per cent (three of four) over the advantage line."