Gloucester and France defence coach Dave Ellis offers his views on recent events, talking about France's preparation for the clash with Wales and current goings on at the Kingsholm club.
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.
Supporters can subscribe to the weekly publication, which has 32 pages of rugby updates, by visiting www.rugbytimes.com
Dave Ellis - Weekly Update
Two 'nail biting' victories in consecutive weeks and a few more grey hairs for the coaching staff! Gloucester's victory over Bath at the weekend may not have the same national significance as the French victory at Twickenham, none the less, to the Kingsholm faithful it was much more important. To beat our West Country rivals is the ultimate and ensures our supporters head home contented.
Sure, it would have been wonderful to beat Bath by 40 points and bask in the glory for another few weeks until we meet again in the Powergen Cup semi final. But the victory is what actually counts, whether a social veterans side, junior rugby or at Premiership standard, the main focus of any team putting their boots on at the weekend, is winning first and foremost, winning in style is secondary.
Leicester's annihilation of Newcastle at the weekend was a truly outstanding performance, however it was an exception. The Tigers' critical victories this season have been by the odd point, grinding out a win when a defeat looked more likely. It is the main reason why they head the Premiership, in fact it is what makes any champion team, getting the little details right in preparation and implementing them during the game.
In sharp contrast, the reaction in France to our Six Nations victories, yes I have to remind myself victories, against Scotland and England have received rather a lot of criticism from the press and particularly former internationals Pierre Villepreux and Pierre Berbizier. I fully understand the media encourage controversy in order to sell newspapers, but I hate to think what would have happened to Bernard Laporte and the French coaching staff had we actually lost these games - perhaps it would have been the guillotine for all of us!
After the World Cup semi final defeat by England, the French coaching team, including Bernard Laporte, Jo Maso and myself met to analyse our failure in the competition. Arguably, France had played the best rugby of the tournament, with entertaining victories over Fiji, Scotland and Ireland being the highlights, however on the big occasion against Clive Woodward's England we failed to change our game in the wet conditions in Sydney. The result took England to the World Cup Final and as history shows to victory.
If France are to win the World Cup we must learn from these lessons, England did not play the best rugby, but they played winning rugby and had the ability to change their tactics according to the situation they encountered. This is what France must emulate if we are to succeed, bringing a winning mentality to the squad in time for the next World Cup, even if this means copping some criticism in the meantime.
The last few weeks have been extremely demanding for me personally, jetting between Paris and Birmingham and driving to Gloucester sounds very glamorous, but I assure you there's not much fun waiting and queuing in Airport terminals. Not that I'm looking for any sympathy, I'd rather be doing this than having a proper job.
The majority of my time during this period has been spent analysing and planning, and the actual time on the field is relatively small in comparison. The hours viewing and editing video footage is possibly the most time consuming part of my job, but is tremendously rewarding when you see your initiatives having a major bearing on the result of a game. I am proud that the French defence has been so effective and it will have to be at it's very best if we are to thwart an extremely good Welsh team.
Skipper Billy Twelvetrees led Gloucester Rugby to European glory on Friday evening, scoring the crucial try on a memorable night for the Cherry and Whites. After the game, he paid tribute to his team's performance under pressure in the latter stages as they withstood a ferocious late Edinburgh fightback.
Speaking to GRTV, James Hook admitted that, after a superb opening, Gloucester really had to pass a test of character to hold off Edinburgh and lift the European Rugby Challenge Cup. He paid tribute to his team mates for all their hard work on what was a great day for the club.
Speaking to the assembled media this week, Gloucester Rugby club captain Billy Twelvetrees explains that the squad are ready for the final and that it will be an honour to lead the Cherry and Whites out in the Challenge Cup final.
Gloucester Rugby scrum half Greig Laidlaw will line up against former team mates Edinburgh Rugby on Friday evening, but the focus is firmly on his own roles as the Cherry and Whites gear up for the EPCR Challenge Cup final at The Stoop.
Speaking to the media ahead of Friday evening's European Rugby Challenge Cup Final against Edinburgh, Director of Rugby David Humphreys stressed that his improving Gloucester team will need to perform at their best to prevail against a tough Edinburgh side.
Dan Robson, a second half try scorer in the 42-40 win over Newcastle on Saturday, admitted that Gloucester had started slowly but that the second half comeback showed real character and maintains momentum going into Friday's European final.
Gareth Evans was a first half replacement for the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, but the back rower's impressive carrying kept the hosts on the front foot when they needed it most to snatch a dramatic comeback win.
After his last ditch try clinched the 42-40 Aviva Premiership victory over Newcastle at Kingsholm on Saturday, Billy Burns told GRTV that all the Gloucester team deserve credit for hanging in there against a Falcons team who really made life tough for the Cherry and Whites.
Speaking after the European Rugby Challenge Cup triumph on Friday evening, Director of Rugby David Humphreys was thrilled with how the Cherry and Whites managed the game and secured the first major European silverware for nine years.
Friday night saw the Cherry and Whites lift the European Rugby Challenge Cup following the 19-13 victory over Edinburgh Rugby. The club photographer caught the best of the action and celebrations from The Stoop.
Once again for Gloucester, it went right to the very last whistle, the 14 men in Cherry and White hanging on heroically to win the European Rugby Challenge Cup by 19 points to 13 over Edinburgh at the Stoop on Friday evening.
The run-in on Gloucester Rugby Lotto will get your May off to an incredible start. Make sure you don't miss out on this Saturday's enormous £21.5 MILLION estimated jackpot! Grab your chance to hit the biggest jackpot rollover in the business end of the season.