Why England beat France : Flood

In his RFU column called the ” The Flood Files”, Toby Flood reflects on England’s match against France.



There comes a time when everyone has to stand up and be counted and I think the guys did that at the Stade de France.

I can’t put my finger on exactly why we won but it’s a combination – hard work, attitude, desire, determination, skill..all those things.

We knew exactly what we had to do to and it just clicked into place. If a tackle needed to be made it was, if someone had to be on the other side of the pitch they got there – whatever it took it was done.

The perception outside the squad was that we were disjointed and lacked direction.

But within us as a group there was no lack of self belief and Saturday showed not only that but what a fantastic group of talented players there are playing for England at the moment.

We knew that if our defence was good France would have nowhere to go. In the build up we had worked hard on not giving any ball to their back three and if they did get it then not allowing them any time or space.

Of course we realised that there would be times in defence when we would be under stress becuase of the way France play. So we pushed up hard and made sure that if they did play with width and stepped inside they would be tackled. We also made sure that if they stayed wide we would use the touch line as our friend and get them into touch.

I haven’t seen the tackle count yet but I think Michael Lipman made 21 which is phenomenal for an international and Noony’s tackle on Heymans was awesome.

Jamie is very good at reading what’s going to happen and coming out of the line to make a hit. Sometimes it panics you, wondering if he is going to get there but he is very rarely wrong. He is one of the best defenders I’ve played with. It was great that the ball popped out and Sacks was on to it. That was a big one for us and gave us a great start.

Noony is very much a father figure to me and Taity at the club. Perhaps it’s actually being a father of two but it seems to come naturally to him – he’s got respect, knows what he is doing and is comfortable in his surroundings so it’s great to be playing alongside him for Newcastle Falcons and England.

I was pleased for ‘Wiggy’ . There’s not many times you get to score on your first start for your country and that late on to seal a victory when there was so much tension. I didn’t see him celebrate because he was hidden by the forwards but I did see the ball flying off into the crowd so I’m sure when we look over the video he’ll get a bit of stick. I thought he did fanstically well – calm, cool and collected

When we beat France there in October there was more relief as well as jubilation knowing that we were going to the Rugby World Cup final. Saturday was fantastic but we also knew that it was only two points and we would be coming home to play for our clubs and then reconvene in a week’s time ahead of the Scotland match.

I actually wondered whether I’d last the game because my back went into spasm in the warm-up. Ben Kay was holding the tackle bag and as I hit it the back popped.

It happened at the start of the season against Newport Gwent Dragons and I managed 50 minutes then. I was struggling in the last 20 minutes. It restricted my movement a bit and made it difficult to get round the pitch but I was more concerned with getting on with the job.

I could barely move by the end of the game so I didn’t have to go to the post-match meal. I got back to the hotel early but ended up staying up because I couldn’t sleep, reading my book and watching rubbish TV.

A quiet end to a job well done.






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