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.
As Gloucester prepare for their 39th game of the season, against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday, David Humphreys told the local media that this week has been all about getting the players mentally and physically ready after a tough game against Connacht last Sunday.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-32 victory over Connacht on Sunday, skipper Billy Twelvetrees explained that Gloucester had had to learn to be patient and cut out the errors to earn the win and progress to next weekend's final play-off against Bordeaux-Begles.
Jonny May's superb late score capped a thrilling 40-32 European play-off win over Connacht on Sunday. The winger spoke afterwards of his team's character and spirit as he looked ahead to one more week of rugby.
Speaking to GRTV this afternoon, Director of Rugby David Humphreys hailed the 'never say die' attitude of the team, after despite not being at their best, fighting back to take a 40-32 win after extra time over Connacht.
Jonny May continues on the wing on Sunday as Connacht come to town, and the England wing explains to the local media this week that he is delighted with his form and is looking forward to taking on Pat Lam's men.
Speaking to the local media this week, front rower John Afoa is familiar with the challenge of Connacht from his time in Belfast, and the World Cup winner is fully aware of the challenge they pose ahead of Sunday's meeting in the Champions Cup play off
Speaking ahead of Gloucester's European Rugby Champions play-off against Connacht on Sunday (Kingsholm, 3:30pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys admitted that he's glad to have more players available than in recent weeks ahead of a tough fixture.
Nick Wood captained the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, and the experienced front rower expressed his pride in the young squad in defeat to Bath on the final day of the Aviva Premiership season.
Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Tongan international forward Sione Kalamafoni returns after injury to take up his usual place in the back row as Gloucester look to finish their season on a high against Bordeaux-Begles at Sixways on Sunday.
Gloucester Rugby is delighted to confirm that 18 year old Mat Protheroe, a product of Hartpury College and one of the brightest young talents in the English game, has signed a senior contract at Kingsholm.