Jump to main content
Premiership Rugby

England v France – How France rate

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

FULLBACK: NICHOLAS BRUSQUESeems to be have been around for an age but the Biarritz back has seen off Clement Poitreneaud to cement himself in the No.15 jersey. Useful addition to the attacking backline, but his selection will hardly overawe the English. Player rating: 7/10

RIGHT WING: AURÉLIEN ROUGERIEHas not been hugely impressive this tournament, certainly better going forward than going back. Will need to be at his very best to combat the pace and power of Ben Cohen opposite him. Player rating: 7/10

OUTSIDE CENTRE: TONY MARSHOne of the standout centres this tournament, despite time out with illness it does not look like he was ever away. Good hands, powerful defence and the uncanny ability to run good lines to open up opposition defences. Player rating: 8/10

INSIDE CENTRE: YANNICK JAUZIONPossibly the French player who has done the most to boost his reputation on rugby's biggest stage. Hardly a household name before now, and part of the midfield ripped to bits at Twickenham in September, Jauzion's confidence and style belies his 13 caps. He is the perfect foil for his block-busting partner outside of him.Player rating: 8/10

LEFT-WING: CHRISTOPHE DOMINICIThe real road-runner of the side and great to see him back to the form of four years ago after his off-field problems. A deadly finisher given the slightest sniff of the ball, with deadly pace and silky hands in the off-load. Jason Robinson will need to be at his best. Player rating: 8/10

FLY-HALF: FRÉDÉRIC MICHALAKMove over Jonny Wilkinson? Well, may be not quite yet but this 21-year-old is ahead on form so far this RWC. Some suggest he could combine the skills and vision of Carlos Spencer, the running of Stephen Larkham and the kicking of Jonny Wilkinson. He will need to do the deeds on the biggest stage with the England back row on his tail to convince the doubters, but a key man for France. Player rating: 9/10

SCRUM-HALF: FABIEN GALTHIÉ (CAPTAIN)This his fourth Rugby World Cup, Galthié is the experienced head in the half-back pairing. Excellent technical skills and a captain who gets the best out of his troops. Leads his side for the 24th time, Galthié will have his hands full dealing with Matt Dawson, but should be up to the challenge.Player rating: 8/10

NO.8: IMANOL HARINORDOQUYDid someone tell you he came from a Basque farming family? Most probably, but Harinordoquy, more relevantly, forms part of arguably the best back row units in world rugby. Burst onto the scene in the 2002 Six Nations, drifted away a bit after the Grand Slam triumph but seems to be back in the groove. Pace, hands and power make this 23-year-old a real handful.Player rating: 9/10

NO.7 FLANK: OLIVIER MAGNEAh, one of the great names of modern French rugby, 'Charley' (as in Charlemagne) needs little introduction. One of the heroes of the semi-final four years ago, Magne is still up there in the world elite of back row forwards. His star may not shine as brightly as it once did but that will be little comfort to England.Player rating: 8/10

NO.6 FLANK: SERGE BETSENThe stuff of Jonny Wilkinson's nightmares, a hugely powerful shape on the side of the French scrum who had such a great game against England back in 2002. Combines fercious defence and break-down play with the running skills of a centre, England need to neutralise this man early doors. Player rating: 9/10

NO.5 LOCK: JÉRÔME THION'Jérôme who?', many will have asked prior to the RWC, this Biarritz lock had a few pundits looking around in their archives for information on the man who displaced the now injured Olivier Brouzet for the No.5 jersey. Good in the air, he has reinforced the line-out and brought physical presence to the rucks and mauls.Player rating: 7/10

NO.4 LOCK: FABIEN PELOUS The former skipper, Pelous seems to have been around since the dawn of time and is the third most capped Frenchman of all-time. Will relish the chance to lock horns with les Anglais once again. Won't let France down. Player rating: 7/10

TIGHTHEAD PROP: SYLVAIN MARCONNETStepped up to the plate in the absence of Pieter De Villiers, Marconnet is an impressive scrummager. Will he and his front row colleagues have a chance to emasculate England? Much depends on the refereeing, but the English front row will be in for a torrid time. Player rating: 7/10

HOOKER: RAPHAEL IBANEZAnother former Test skipper in the side, the Saracens man is as solid as they come and appears in his second consecutive RWC semi-final after skippering the side four years ago. Efficient at the set-piece, Ibanez can be very useful in the loose, always in the right place at the right time.Player rating: 7/10

LOOSEHEAD PROP: JEAN-JACQUES CRENCAA very impressive game against the Irish last time out, Crenca is an imposing figure both in the scrum and around the fringes of the breakdown. A regular choice for France since the arrival of Bernard Laporte, Crenca will prove more than a handful for the English.Player rating: 8/10


YANNICK BRU:Rough and tough, as Agen's Thierry Labrousse found out first hand. Bru is an able back-up to Ibanez and a useful impact player.

OLIVIER MILLOUD:Injury and the props above him in the pecking-order have limited the international chances for the Bourgoin front rower over the past few years. Is a likely pair of fresh legs as the game progresses.

DAVID AURADOU:The Stade Français utility forward is most at home at the second row and provides cover for Thion and Pelous now that the injured Brouzet is out the picture.

CHRISTIAN LABIT:One of the great French club players, the blond-streaked back rower has never managed to translate that form at Test level. The Toulouse stalwart has won virutally everything at club level but only won 12 international caps.

GÉRALD MERCERON:The English know all too well about the abilities of Gérald Merceron. Often wrongly portrayed as one-dimensional, Mérceron is a very handy understudy should things start to wobble with Michalak at 10, or if Michalak needs to move to No.9.

DAMIEN TRAILLE:Lost out to the rising form of Jauzion, Traille burst onto the scene in 2002 and remains a potent midfield option. France will lose little if he needs to come on.

CLÉMENT POITRENAUD:Pacy, but a little lightweight, Poitrenaud is primarily a fullback but can easily turn out on the wing.

Kick-off: 20.00 local (09.00 GMT), Live in the UK on ITV1

By Piers North


Next Story

England upbeat ahead of semi

Previous Story

England v France – How England rate

Choose your club

Bath Rugby
Bristol Bears
Exeter Chiefs
Gloucester Rugby
Leicester Tigers
London Irish
Newcastle Falcons
Northampton Saints
Sale Sharks
Worcester Warriors
No Club