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.
Speaking to GRTV after the 40-29 Aviva A League win over Wasps Rugby, Academy Coach Rich Whiffin explained his pride in the squad to overcome a strong opponent and book their spot in next week's Aviva A League final.
Willi Heinz returned from injury to skipper Gloucester to a famous 16-14 win over Stade Rochelais on Saturday evening. Speaking after the game in France, Heinz admitted the win wasn't pretty but was full of courage and a great result for the club.
Billy Burns contributed all Gloucester's points in the 16-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup win in La Rochelle on Saturday evening, but dedicated the victory to the whole squad whilst also praising the travelling support.
Speaking after Gloucester's brave 16-14 win against Stade Rochelais which clinches a European Rugby Challenge Cup final spot, Director of Rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the way the team had executed the game plan in a hostile environment against quality opposition.
Greig Laidlaw returns to the Gloucester Rugby squad this week, and his inclusion is an important one after a serious ankle injury. The Scottish scrum half is determined to drive the team forward in their European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final in La Rochelle this Saturday.
Gloucester take on La Rochelle in the European Rugby Challenge Cup semi-final in France on Saturday evening, with the Top 14 side the favourites in the eyes of the bookmakers. However, David Humphreys is looking for his side to rise to the occasion against a familiar opponent.
Speaking to GRTV after Saturday's 39-30 Aviva Premiership win over Sale, Mark Atkinson admitted that the performance wasn't perfect but that the team's character shone through in a game that could easily have slipped away.
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw is targeting a 'unique' finish to his Gloucester tenure in the European Rugby Challenge Cup final at the venue where his professional playing career began, BT Murrayfield Stadium (Friday 12 May).
Gloucester's young United side once again dug deep to take an illustrious scalp, overturning a half-time deficit to earn a 40-29 victory over Wasps and earn a place in the Aviva Premiership A League final.