Jones urges England to keep cool in Welsh ‘rip off heads’ cauldron | Daily News

Jones urges England to keep cool in Welsh ‘rip off heads’ cauldron

France’s winger Yoann Huget speaks during a press conference in Marcoussis, southern Paris ahead of their Six nations Nations rugby union tournament match against Scotland. - AFP
France’s winger Yoann Huget speaks during a press conference in Marcoussis, southern Paris ahead of their Six nations Nations rugby union tournament match against Scotland. - AFP

LONDON, Friday - Wales and England will both put their Grand Slam ambitions on the line when they meet for a sold-out Six Nations clash at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on Saturday.

Both sides, the only unbeaten teams in the tournament, have won their opening two matches of this Six Nations.

Yet for Wales, whatever England’s form, the fixture has long been a chance to gain a measure of revenge for all the many political, cultural and economic wrongs they feel have been done to them by their border rivals.

It was a sentiment summed up in a speech by Wales captain Phil Bennett shortly before the 1977 edition in Cardiff where the outstanding fly-half concluded by telling his side: “We’ve been exploited, raped, controlled and punished by the English -- and that’s who you are playing this afternoon.”

Wales won that match 14-9.

This week the Welsh squad have watched a play about the life of the fiercely patriotic Wales centre Ray Gravell, a team-mate of Bennett’s.

What effect it had on a side where wing George North and centre Jonathan Davies were born in England, while fellow backs Gareth Anscombe and Hadleigh Parkes hail from New Zealand -- as does coach Warren Gatland -- remains to be seen.

But Eddie Jones, an Australian in charge of an England team featuring Samoa-born centre Manu Tuilagi and the Sydney-born but Wales-raised son of a former Tonga captain in No 8 Billy Vunipola, had no doubt about Wales’ mood.

“They (Wales) have been saying they’re ready to rip off heads. “They watched a play about Ray Gravell -- I remember watching him play -- a really good player.

“So they’re full of emotions and they’ll bring that to the field and we know Wales teams at home want to come out hard.”

But former Australia and Japan coach Jones, however, was confident in how England would approach the game.

“Just be calm but at the same time tough and have a real steel about us. That’s what I want to see.

“And I know we’re going to get it, I can see it in the players’ eyes now.”

Wales are on an 11-match unbeaten run, with just one more win required to break their all-time record set from 1907-1910. Jones, however, has won all four of his matches against Wales since taking over as England coach after the 2015 World Cup.

Wing Jack Nowell and prop Ben Moon replace the injured Chris Ashton and prop Mako Vunipola respectively in the only two changes to the England starting side that thrashed France 44-8 last time out.

England have scored tries inside the first three minutes of their last five Tests, with wing Jonny May grabbing 12 in his last 12 internationals.

But Wales, led again by veteran second row Alun Wyn Jones, will back their defence to put more pressure on England captan and fly-half Owen Farrell, who led a brilliant tactical kicking display that repeatedly caused problems for a callow France side at Twickenham. “It’s a massive challenge playing against an England team that is playing really well and with a lot of confidence and we’ve got to make it difficult for them,” said Gatland, in his final Six Nations campaign as Wales coach before he stands down after this year’s World Cup in Japan.

Never reluctant to make big decisions, Gatland has opted for Anscobme over the benched Dan Biggar at fly-half. Anscombe, the son of a Cardiff-born mother, is seen as the more attacking player, while Biggar, passed fit despite going off early with a heavily strapped leg for English club Northampton last weekend, is viewed as the superior defensive stand-off and goalkicker. But if Anscombe, who once said he felt “crucified” by Wales fans unhappy at his quick promotion to Test rugby following his arrival from New Zealand, guides Wales to victory on Saturday he can expect hero status.


PARIS - Under-fire France might never have a better opportunity to get their Six Nations back up and running as they host a Scotland side considerably shorn of its sparkle on Saturday.

The French have lost 10 of their last 13 games, having fallen to Wales in their opening Six Nations before being hammered 44-8 by England, their heaviest loss to the ‘Rosbifs’ since 1911.

Since Brunel took charge in December 2017, his side have conceded an average of 34 points per game and have only scored more than 30 themselves on one occasion. A first-ever defeat by Fiji in November further increased the pressure on Brunel, who as Italy coach between 2012-16 oversaw just 11 wins in 50 games. “There’s no magic recipe, there’s no ‘it’s the players’ fault, it’s the coaches’ fault’. If we start looking at things on a personal level we will not manage to get out of it,” said prop Jefferson Poirot.

Put simply, France need to start winning, with less than seven months from the start of the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo. The stereotypically fickle French fans have been quick to turn on Les Bleus, who will nevertheless welcome the Scots to a sold-out Stade de France on Saturday. “There is anger, a desire to react, there is a lot of rage in everyone,” insisted France lock Felix Lambey.

“Everyone is really hurt. We want to show a different face and finally win.”

Brunel has rung the changes for Saturday’s match, dropping experienced half-backs Morgan Parra and Camille Lopez in favour of the green Toulouse duo Antoine Dupont, 22, and Romain Ntamack, 19, who have only started three Tests between them. Brunel said the decision had no relation with Parra and Lopez’s criticism of the team’s strategy following the heavy loss to England at Twickenham.

“It’s a sporting choice, it has nothing to do with what was said,” Brunel said.

Wenceslas Lauret comes in for Yacouba Camara at blindside flanker, Gael Fickou moves from the wing to the centre as Geoffrey Doumayrou drops out of the matchday squad, and Thomas Ramos makes his first Test start at full-back with Yoann Huget shifting to the wing. Brunel’s Scottish counterpart, Gregor Townsend, has had to do some personnel juggling of his own, in the knowledge that Scotland’s last victory on French soil came on their way to winning the last-ever Five Nations title in 1999 -- a match in which Townsend played.

Among a host of players ruled out through injury are dynamic full-back Stuart Hogg, free-running centre Huw Jones and influential fly-half Finn Russell, who ironically picked up a head knock after turning out for his club Racing 92 in the French Top 14 last weekend.

Scotland beat Italy 33-20 in their opening match, but then succumbed 22-13 to Ireland, and Townsend said his side were prepped for a fire-up France team.




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