England hope for Six Nations title chance in France

England hope for Six Nations title chance in France

England head coach Steve Borthwick believes his side can win an unlikely Six Nations title on Saturday
Venue: Groupama Stadium, Lyon Date: Saturday, 16 March Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live; text commentary & match highlights on BBC Sport website and app; watch on ITV1

England face France in Lyon in the final game of the 2024 Six Nations on Saturday, retaining slim hopes of snatching a first title since 2020.

France, though, were back close to their best in a record win against Wales last weekend.

England, meanwhile, have not scored four tries in France since 1992.

The fact that England harbour any hopes of winning this Six Nations is tantamount to their impressive performance in derailing Ireland’s Grand Slam bid at Twickenham.

A similar performance will be required if England are to capitalise should Ireland fall short.

Victory would also avenge France’s 53-10 win at Twickenham last season, which was both England’s record home defeat in any Test, and a French record in this fixture.

“Not many teams come to France and win,” said captain Jamie George. “We haven’t done that since 2016. We’re very aware of that.

“We achieved something special last weekend, everyone felt that but being able to back it up is a huge motivation for me. Good teams react well to setbacks, great teams make sure they back it up.”

The hosts retain a mathematical chance of winning the title, although they could also finish as low as fifth should results go against them.

Even with a trophy almost out of reach the stakes remain high.

Beat England and France will have won four straight championship home games in this fixture for the first time since 1972; lose and they will have failed to win at home in a single campaign for the first time in the Six Nations era.

Ireland lead the Six Nations from England, with Scotland third and France fourth

Team news

England: Head coach Steve Borthwick has been forced into one change, with winger Immanuel Feyi-Waboso unavailable after reporting concussion symptoms.

He is replaced by Elliott Daly, with Daly’s spot on the bench taken by Manu Tuilagi, who features in the matchday squad for the first time in this tournament.

There is one further change among the replacements – flanker Ethan Roots comes in for Chandler Cunningham-South, who sustained a calf injury in round four.

France: The home side features an unchanged 23-man squad following the win in Cardiff.

A clean bill of health has allowed head coach Fabien Galthie to select the same starting XV for the first time in more than a year after eight changes had been made against Wales in round four.

Thomas Ramos continues at fly-half, while scrum-half Nolann Le Garrec, who starred at the Principality Stadium, makes a first Test start on home soil.

Commentator’s notes

Andrew Cotter: By the time it kicks off in Lyon there may well be no title chase for England, but the chance to show that the performance against Ireland was not a one-off will be motivation enough.

It’s a real shame that the outstanding new wing Feyi-Waboso is unavailable but, apart from Daly replacing him, England’s side is beginning to look more settled.

They are also one country that can cope with the power offered by Les Bleus. And while France remain dangerous in attack, Borthwick will hope that England can exploit the gaps which are appearing in an increasingly fragile-looking French defence.

View from both camps

England head coach Steve Borthwick: “After such a hard-fought win against Ireland, we realise how important it is to back that performance up with another similar display.

“France remain one of the very top sides in the world, and will pose a great challenge for us.

“We’ve had a great preparation this week and there is a genuine sense of anticipation and determination around the camp.

France head coach Fabien Galthie: “It’s ideal to be able to keep the same team. The team won, and put in a great performance, last weekend. The team had changed a lot.

“The joy is when players create competitiveness between them, when they all want to wear the jersey and go grab it. When we open the door to new players because we feel we need energy, and we get the response straight away, that’s also the joy.”


France: 15-Barre, 14-Penaud, 13-Fickou, 12-Depoortere, 11-Bielle-Biarrey; 10-Ramos, 9-Le Garrec; 1-Baille, 2-Marchand, 3-Atonio, 4-Flament, 5-Meafou, 6-Cros, 7-Ollivon, 8-Alldritt (capt).

Replacements: 16-Mauvaka, 17-S. Taofifenua, 18-Colombe, 19-R. Taofifenua, 20-Roumat, 21-Boudehent, 22-Lucu, 23-Moefana.

England: 15-Furbank, 14-Daly, 13-Slade, 12-Lawrence, 11-Freeman; 10-Ford, 9-Care; 1-Genge, 2- George (capt), 3-Cole, 4-Itoje, 5-Martin, 6-Chessum, 7-Underhill, 8-Earl.

Replacements: 16-Dan, 17-Marler, 18-Stuart, 19-Dombrandt, 20-, 21-Care, 22-Smith, 23-Tuilagi.

England back row Ben Earl takes on Irish defenders during England's Six Nations game on 10 March 2024

Match facts


  • France’s 53-10 win in the 2023 Six Nations was their biggest-ever Test victory against England.
  • France can win four home successive home meetings for only the second time in the championship’s history (after 1966-1972).
  • England have not won a Six Nations game in France since a 31-21 triumph in 2016.
  • England have scored four tries in a championship game in France just once since 1929 and never in the Six Nations era. They won 31-13 in an infamously violent clash in 1992.


  • France scored five tries against Wales last weekend having scored five in total in the previous three rounds.
  • However, they are winless at home in this year’s Six Nations (D1, L1).
  • France could fail to win a home match in this tournament for the first time in the Six Nations era and only the second time since 1970; they lost against Wales and Scotland in 1999.
  • Les Bleus’ tackle success rate of 90% is the highest in this Six Nations.


  • England’s three wins in this Six Nations have come by a margin of three points or fewer, while they have been behind at half-time in all four of their matches so far.
  • England could trail at half-time in every match in this championship for the first time since 1970.
  • Marcus Smith’s drop-goal against Ireland was England’s seventh since the start of the 2023 World Cup – no other nation has scored more than one in that period.
  • England have won their final match just once across the last seven Six Nations campaigns (D1, L5), a 34-5 win in Italy in 2020.

Match officials

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)

Touch judges: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia) & Damian Schneider (Uruguay)

TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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