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Six Nations | Group Stage
Mar 16, 2024 at 8pm UK
Le Garrec (20'), Barre (56'), Fickou (60')
Lawrence (40', 42'), Smith (46'), Freeman (75')

Preview: France vs. England - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Six Nations clash between France and England, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The final match of what has been a fascinating 2024 Six Nations tournament will conclude with England heading across the channel to the Groupama Stadium to take on last season's runners-up France on Super Saturday.

England currently sit in second place in the Six Nations table with 12 points, while Ireland hold the top spot with 16 points. France, on the other hand, are in fourth place with 11 points after securing a victory over Wales on Sunday afternoon.

Match preview

France's Cyril Baille celebrates scoring their first try on October 15, 2023© Reuters

Considering they entered the tournament as favourites alongside Ireland, it is fair to say that France, without their captain Antoine Dupont, have not had the sort of campaign this year that many would have anticipated.

Les Bleus are now banking on Scotland to do them a massive favour if they are to have any chance at the title. However, in reality, a more probable outcome is Ireland going on to lift the trophy, in which case a second-place finish will be the best they can manage, provided they can beat England here.

If they are able to emerge victorious on Saturday, though, it will mark their third consecutive Six Nations triumph over the Red Roses, which is a feat Les Bleus have not managed since between 2004 and 2006.

Their most impressive showing in this competition came last week when they surged ahead of Wales in Cardiff to secure a commanding 45-24 bonus point victory, but that followed two lacklustre performances, including a 13-13 draw to Italy and a somewhat fortuitous win over Scotland.

While France hold a historical disadvantage in this fixture, having won 43 games compared to their opponents' 60, they have not lost to the English on home soil since England's Grand Slam title back in 2016.

England's Marcus Smith celebrates with teammates after scoring a drop goal on March 9, 2024© Reuters

Unfortunately for England, even if they secure a victory and Ireland are handed a defeat, they could still end up in second place in the Championship standings due to the bonus points collected by the Irish team.

In the fourth round of the 2023 Six Nations, England faced France at Twickenham, but despite Freddie Steward scoring and Marcus Smith kicking a conversion and a penalty, a commanding performance from France resulted in the visitors on the day securing a decisive 53-10 victory.

However, they will come into this match with huge confidence after putting in by far their best effort of the competition last week, when they snatched a 23-22 victory over the Shamrocks with Smith kicking over a clutch drop-kick seconds before the end.

That result not only denied Ireland their 12th straight win in the Six Nations competition but also kept them from claiming what would have been the out-and-out longest winning run in the tournament.

From an England perspective, much of their motivation for this game will hinge on the result in Dublin earlier in the day since, by the time they take the field in this match, their chances of winning the title may be completely extinguished if Ireland emerge victorious.

Nevertheless, a second-placed finish will mark major progress for Steve Borthwick's side after ending in the bottom half last year.

France Six Nations form:

  • L
  • L
  • D
  • W

France form (all competitions):

  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • W

England Six Nations form:

  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

England form (all competitions):

  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

Team News

France's Imanol Harinordoquy scores a try against Ireland© Reuters

Fabien Galthie has taken the somewhat unexpected decision to maintain an unchanged 23-man squad from last week as they aim to conclude their disappointing campaign on a positive note.

Leo Barre, Nicolas Depoortere and Emmanuel Meafou, who all made their debuts in Cardiff, have been retained for Saturday's match.

Nolann Le Garrec, the man of the match from the Wales contest, remains at half-back, partnering with Thomas Ramos, while in the pack, the back-row comprises Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon and captain Gregory Alldritt.

Borthwick has made only one change to his starting 15 for the upcoming match against France, and it is due to an injury with Immanuel Feyi-Waboso ruled out. Consequently, Elliot Daly returns to the English team.

England's captain Jamie George will once again line up at hooker alongside vice-captain Ellis Genge at loosehead prop and the seasoned Dan Cole at tighthead prop.

Maro Itoje is paired with Leicester Tigers' George Martin, who made a strong impression after joining the starting lineup against Ireland in the last match. In the back row, Ollie Chessum retains his spot at blindside flanker, while Sam Underhill starts on the openside and Ben Earl occupies the number eight position.

France starting lineup: 15 Leo Barre, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Nicolas Depoortere, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Thomas Ramos, 9 Nolann Le Garrec, 8 Gregory Alldritt (c), 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 François Cros, 5 Emmanuel Meafou, 4 Thibaud Flament, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille

Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Sebastien Taofifenua, 18 Georges-Henri Colombe, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Alexandre Roumat, 21 Paul Boudehent, 22 Maxime Lucu, 23 Yoram Moefana

England starting lineup: 15 George Furbank, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Ollie Chessum, 5 George Martin, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Jamie George (c), 1 Ellis Genge

Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Ethan Roots, 20 Alex Dombrandt, 21 Danny Care, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Manu Tuilagi

SM words green background

We say: France 24-27 England

While France enter this contest as the favourites, they have been far from impressive in this competition, making this arguably the most level tie of Super Saturday. If England can keep the game close, they may just be able to take advantage of the hosts' nerves and pull off a close victory.

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