Saturday, February 26, 2011

After phoney war

After phoney war, Johnson backs England to win battle that matters

It is fully 20 years since the pugnacious little England hooker Brian Moore treated the French public to a crash course in basic Anglo-Saxon during a Five Nations game in Paris – the pitchside microphones picked up every scatological syllable of his gap-toothed tirade – before dismissing their national team as "15 Eric Cantonas".
Two decades on, the French are the ones dishing out the insults, and if their approach is just a little more poetic, more Rimbaud than Rambo, the intention remains broadly similar. A case, you might say, of déjà vu, all over again.
Yet there is a pungent whiff of something different about this evening's meeting at Twickenham. The general expectation, for the first time in living memory, is that England will attempt to play the rugby, with France trying to stop them. This is not in the natural order of things, but it is the way the sporting public in both countries appear to see it. Chris Ashton has a hell of a lot to answer for, turning the world on its head in such cavalier fashion.

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