Gloucester and France defence coach Dave Ellis offers his views on recent events, looking back at the Six Nations win over Andy Robinson's side.
Ellis has a weekly column in the Rugby Times newspaper and his words are in this week's edition, as well as loads of other rugby news from around the game.
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Dave Ellis - Weekly Update
In the last few weekly articles I've mentioned the word 'composure' many times and the importance it plays in deciding the results of many tight games. The French performance at the weekend clearly illustrated the importance of displaying a cool temperament in the heat of battle.
Dimitri Yachvili held his nerve at the critical times to produce an accurate place kicking display. I was equally impressed with the whole team's performance and our focus and determination to compete, despite being outplayed in many facets of the game.
The overall statistics simply defy logic, for instance England spent almost 70 per cent of the game in French territory, and France completed in the region of 116 exhausting tackles, whereas England were required to make only 43. This data is truly remarkable and shows tremendous spirit by the French team to not only stay in the game, but to gain victory in such adversity was exceptional.
While many purists and pundits criticised the French for a lack of adventure, needless to say as a defence specialist, I am extremely proud of the performance that resulted in victory at Twickenham. As I mentioned in last week's article - 'I would prefer to win ugly than lose beautifully' - I make no apologies for this.
During the first half we were penalised heavily by Paddy O'Brien and having discussed the problems at half time, we decided not to compete at the breakdown. It is very confusing for players as Southern Hemisphere referees, who are used to the Super 12s style of play, interpret this area of the game very differently to their Northern Hemisphere colleagues. England however had enough opportunities in the first half to put the game beyond France, but we remained focussed and gradually clawed our way back into the match.
I am realistic enough to know that we will have to improve our overall play dramatically to beat an insurgent Welsh team in Paris, and both Ireland and Italy in Dublin and Rome, respectively. But there were some extremely encouraging signs, for instance, I thought newcomers Jean-Phillipe Grandclaude and Yannick Nyanga were both impressive as replacements. And combined with the inclusion of Brive's exciting full back Julien Laharrague following an impressive display against England 'A' at the Rec on Friday and the return from injury of Imanol Harinordoquy, Aurelien Rougerie and Yannick Jauzion our attacking options look to have improved dramatically.
My unusual position of an Englishman in the heart of French rugby provides me with a totally unique perspective of French rugby, and I must admit I become slightly irritated at the total nonsense spoken about our performances and attitude to the game.
Everytime I switch the television highlights on, the TV network wheels out some former international player who bleats out the same old rubbish "very undisciplined", "which French team will turn up?", "inconsistent", "don't travel away from home very well".
It really is rubbish… France may have had problems in the past, but frankly it's about time someone put the record straight. Under Bernard Laporte France are extremely disciplined. During our 2003 Grand Slam campaign only Ireland conceded less penalties in games against France.
We also perform consistently well in the Six Nations - since 2000 we are the second best performing nation behind England, gaining Grand Slams in 2002 and 2004. For a team that supposedly doesn't travel well we've got a pretty good record too - only lost two away games since 2002.
It's back to domestic matters this weekend as we entertain Bath at Kingsholm in a must win game. It really is critical we put the disappointment of the poor Harlequins performance behind us and ensure we give our rivals a good beating. A bonus point would be ideal to move us back up the table, theoretically we could move up to fourth.
Billy Twelvetrees spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV following the 17-18 loss to Bath Rugby in Round Nineteen of Aviva Premiership Rugby. The Gloucester skipper said he was proud of the desire shown by his team at the end of a tough afternoon.
Nigel Davies spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV following the gutting 17-18 reverse to Bath on Saturday afternoon. The Director of Rugby expressed his pride at the efforts from his players and thanked the supporters for their incredible backing.
Nick Wood spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV this week ahead of Saturday's West Country derby clash with Bath Rugby. The front rower called on the squad to make a strong start and get the Kingsholm crowd behind them
Director of Rugby Nigel Davies admits that it's been a tough week at Gloucester Rugby following defeat at London Wasps last weekend, but that he's looking for his team to rise to the occasion for the huge game at home to Bath Rugby on Saturday.
Speaking immediately after the 36-24 Amlin Challenge Cup defeat at London Wasps on Sunday evening, skipper Billy Twelvetrees admitted that Gloucester left themselves with too much to do despite a spirited second half comeback.
Nigel Davies spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV following the 36-24 defeat to London Wasps in the Amlin Challenge Cup Quarter Final. The Director of Rugby rued a lacklustre showing the first half despite a big second half display with ultimately came to nothing on a hugely frustrating night for the Cherry and Whites.
Nick Wood spoke to the assembled media following the vital 14-13 victory over Exeter Chiefs on Saturday. The front-rower express his delight at the performance of the front row and challenged his colleagues to push on from the display
Jimmy Cowan spoke to Gloucester Rugby TV on Saturday following the 14-13 win over Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park. The Kiwi scrum half praised the dominance of the Gloucester scrum in securing crucial penalties which resulted in points for the Cherry and Whites.
Academy back rower Sam Underhill is readying to lead England Under 18s into battle for the final of the FIRA/AER European championships, and took time out of training to chat with the club website from their base in Poland.
It was announced last week that a hugely important deal had been struck regarding the future of European club rugby competition. Gloucester Rugby CEO Stephen Vaughan discussed the decision with the club website.
England Under 18s have named their side to face Wales in the semi-final of the FIRA/AER European Championship in Poznan tomorrow (kick-off 1.00pm BST) and have named an all-Gloucester Rugby Academy back row.