Jalibert and Dupont dazzle in defeat to point out France are right here to remain | Robert Kitson


England haven’t performed this effectively for 17 months and nonetheless it took them till the closing minutes to use the coup de grâce. What does that say in regards to the guests who, regardless of having their grand slam dream extinguished, look destined to be critical contenders by the point the 2023 World Cup arrives? The English could have gained on this event however that is simply the beginning of a doubtlessly superb rivalry.

What a spectacle it was, stuffed with champagne moments and missing solely a mesmerised reside viewers to witness it. Whereas France have nonetheless not gained a Six Nations sport in London since 2005 they’ve already gained a mess of latest buddies. At this fee they may become essentially the most endearing French ensemble solid for the reason that final collection of Name My Agent. For Gabriel, Camille and Hervé learn Antoine, Matthieu and Virimi.

Warren Gatland, watching from the stands, should definitely have wished he may choose a number of of the boys in blue for a summer season Lions tour. The uber-talented Matthieu Jalibert has enviable time to spare at 10, Julian Marchand is a formidably sturdy, cellular trendy hooker after which there’s Antoine Dupont, the light-middleweight setting new requirements at scrum-half.

The sport’s opening strive inside 65 seconds was the most recent prime instance of Dupont’s unerring potential to be in the best place on the proper time, the ever-alert No 9 following up Teddy Thomas’s neat chip to juggle and rating. It did greater than merely set a tone: immediately England knew that nothing lower than their finest could be sufficient.

France’s second strive was even higher, with Jalibert this time the supplier. If an extended throw proper excessive of the lineout was straight out of Scotland’s playbook, the remaining was all the way down to Gallic genius, Jalibert floating a stunning ball out to an unmarked Damian Penaud on the best wing. Ooh la la. Over went the difficult conversion, too, as if to underline what a whole field of methods the 22-year-old from Bordeaux possesses.

Dejection for France on the finish however that they had quite a lot of positives to attract on. {Photograph}: Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Photos

Off the sphere he’s apparently a jovial younger man however he’s additionally a eager pupil of the sport. As his former Bordeaux head coach Rory Teague outlined within the Guardian earlier than the sport, there isn’t a disputing both his uncommon expertise or his dedication to maximise it.

“Over time there isn’t a doubt that Matthieu will become a really astute playmaker who can lead a group,” confirmed Teague, “He watches quite a lot of rugby and shall be trying on the world’s finest gamers and the way they’ve succeeded. He’s enthusiastic about how different international locations and cultures do issues. He’s only a nice child: a pleasure to be round however with the flexibility to roll his sleeves up and rip in when wanted.”

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He additionally has the priceless potential to carry neutrals from their seats, as underlined by the scrumptious double sidestep that extricated him from a doubtlessly tight spot in his personal half not lengthy earlier than the interval. England had been piecing collectively some pleasant stuff of their very own however Jalibert, even with the strain ramped up, gave the impression to be working on a special aircraft.

The essential query, although, was whether or not Les Bleus may address the inevitable final quarter English barrage. The guests are nonetheless a younger group, with 14 of their beginning XV possessing fewer caps than their counterparts. High stage video games will not be merely gained on flights of fancy or oval-ball designer stylish. In opposition to opponents decided to banish the pent-up frustrations of their opening three video games, it was by no means going to be a languid stroll to the end line.

Credit score, both means, should clearly go to England for the thrilling means they clawed their means again. As within the Autumn Nations Cup remaining in December, although, there was barely a fag paper between the perimeters on the remaining whistle.

The chances at the moment are in opposition to a Gallic title this month, except they’ll muster bonus level dwelling wins in opposition to Wales and Scotland, however France’s rugby future stays encouragingly brilliant.

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