Raphael Ibanez declared “bring it on” in anticipation of the forward onslaught expected from England in Paris on Sunday.


France’s manager and former captain is aware that Les Bleus begin their Guinness Six Nations campaign against a team determined to make amends after their pack was dismantled by South Africa in last autumn’s World Cup final.

It is the first outing for the new coaching team, led by head coach, Fabien Galthie and Ibanez knows up front is the key battleground.

“The England pack will try to redeem themselves after the experience of the World Cup final in that area,” Ibanez said.

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“We are very aware of their quality in the forwards. They have a great, big, strong tight five and hopefully we’ll be able to match that.

“There’s no doubt it’s an area where there will be a fierce battle. But that’s what Test match rugby is all about. Good. Bring it on.”

France are dismayed by Eddie Jones’ call for England to play with “brutal physicality” as the word brutal has connotations of violence when translated.

But Ibanez believes it is easy for coaches to make bold declarations of intent.


“It’s easy to talk when you are sitting in stands and that’s exactly what we’ll be experiencing – Fabien, myself and the English head coach,” Ibanez said.

“It’s always down to the players to express themselves, so let the players do the talking.”

Wing Damian Penaud is a doubt because of a calf problem sustained at the start of the captain’s run held at the Stade de France on Saturday.

“He is undergoing tests and we will see what the results are from those. We hope they won’t be too significant,” Ibanez said.

Press Association

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