Betsen all fired up for England test

England’s heavy defeat to Ireland has made France’s task at Twickenham in a fortnight all the more challenging, according to Les Bleus flanker Serge Betsen.

Brian Ashton suffered his first defeat as England coach when they were torn apart by the Irish at Croke Park, losing 43-13 in the Six Nations Championship on Saturday.

Their next test comes in the form of a France side gunning for the Grand Slam, after they followed up away victories over Italy and Ireland with a come-from-behind win over Wales at the Stade de France on Saturday.

Betsen reckons the world champions will be desperate to make amends following their below-par performance in Dublin.

“It is going to be a big, big match against England,” the Biarritz back-row forward said.

“I was surprised when (France head coach) Bernard Laporte told us the score from the Ireland-England game.

“It will make it harder for us now and it will be a very tough game because England will be very, very focused, having lost like that at Croke Park.”

If selected in a fortnight, Betsen could come up against Jonny Wilkinson for the first time since the World Cup semi-final between England and France in 2003.

Betsen was sin-binned in that game for a late tackle on the Newcastle fly-half, who had the last laugh with England going on to win 24-7.

Betsen has a history with Wilkinson – in the 2002 Six Nations, the marauding flanker gave the number 10 the roughest of rides at the Stade de France, hounding the England man into errors in a remorseless and memorable personal display.

Given his recent run of injuries, the last player Wilkinson would want to come up against would be the uncompromising and fired-up Betsen, who has arguably been Les Bleus’ best player in this season’s Six Nations.

The Cameroon-born Betsen will be delighted to renew the rivalry.

“I am very happy for Jonny to come back to play for England,” he added.

“He is a very good player, a great player. It will be fantastic to play against him again.

“But whoever is against us on the field, Jonny or anybody, my only aim to be the best player out there and to help France win the game.”

France made it three wins out of three in the Six Nations with the 32-21 defeat of Wales.

The Stade de France had been a happy hunting ground for the Welsh, who had won there in 1999, 2001 and 2005.

And they made a great start, taking a 14-3 lead thanks to converted tries by Alix Popham and Tom Shanklin.

France, though, are made of stern stuff this year, and they managed to regroup and reverse the deficit.

Christophe Dominici and Lionel Nallet scored tries before the break, and a display of unforgiving accuracy with the boot from fly-half David Skrela took the game out of Wales’ reach.

Skrela finished with 19 points, with his replacement Lionel Beauxis adding a further three with a penalty late on.

Betsen, who put in a typically tireless performance, hailed his team-mates’ powers of recovery.

“I feel good about the win, and for the future, because we have a big match in two weeks in London,” he said.

“And to see the team’s fighting spirit by coming back against the Welsh and winning was very important. We can be very happy with our game.

“The Welsh played very well at the beginning of the game and we had to go out and play, because we had 14 points to recover. We didn’t panic.

“We felt very positive and we tried to impose our game on Wales and go step by step.”

Given the recent foibles of England and Scotland, the Grand Slam is there for the taking for the French, but Betsen is taking nothing for granted.

“Our objective is to take it game by game, and not use the Grand Slam as our target,” he said.

“It is most important for us to make our game as perfect as possible, to be the best team on the field.

If we do that succe

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