Saturday’s win against France was a lightbulb moment for England.
Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio believes the Round 4 thriller between England and France at Twickenham will have helped people fall back in love with rugby.
However, that barely tells the story of a breathless, enthralling encounter that began with Antoine Dupont scoring a gorgeous try inside two minutes and saw both sides mesmerize with expansive, attacking, running rugby.
Anthony Watson crossed for England before Damian Penaud scored one of the most brilliant tries of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations as Les Blues led 17-13 at the break but the hosts fought back to snatch a win that leaves France still searching for a first Championship victory at Twickenham since 2005.
There is a lot that came together that England has obviously been working on for a while. It needed a slight change of attitude and for the stars to align – and they did. England deserves the credit for it. The players showed a lot of personal pride in the way that they played the game. It looked like everybody had had a long, hard look in the mirror for two weeks after losses to Scotland and Wales.
England’s superstar players gave them superstar moments. It was Mako and Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje, Tom Curry, little breaks from Ben Youngs, George Ford up in the face of the opposition.
This was a game of pace, fire, and ball in hand. Few believed that England could match the pace of France, both over the ball in clearing, around the pitch and in footwork. But they did and that’s to their great credit. It was a game full of energy, with an excellent display from referee Andrew Brace, a man that was vilified in France the last time these two teams met, who allowed play to develop and ambition to flourish.
There were some amazing moments and some commendable ambition from both sides, with both fly-halves in imperious form, with Matthieu Jalibert absolutely commanding in the first half. The handling at times was spectacular and the only thing missing was a crowd to appreciate the feast of rugby those present at the ground were fortunate to witness.