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England player ratings vs France

By Alex Shaw
A dejected England side during a testing 80 minutes against France in Paris. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Paris played host to the latest edition of ‘Le Crunch’ on Sunday afternoon, with a rejuvenated French side running out 24-17 victors in what is one of the most emotionally-charged rivalries in international rugby.


England struggled to impose themselves physically or in attack throughout the game and the lack of incision in the latter, outside of two Jonny May solo efforts, will be particularly worrying for Eddie Jones and his side as they prepare for the Calcutta Cup in Scotland next week.

We have rated all 23 of England’s players below.

  1. George Furbank – 5

The full-back did well defensively and aerially on debut, although he struggled to make the offensive impact he would have liked. On two occasions, he spilled passes from George Ford, the first of which was low and difficult to take, although the second the Northampton Saint was guilty of over-running.

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Watch: Andy Farrell and Jonny Sexton face the press after Ireland’s 19-12 win over Scotland

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  1. Jonny May7

Even England’s Mr Consistent struggled to impress against France in the first half. He missed a couple of tackles on the kick chase, stopped chasing back for Charles Ollivon’s first try and was unable to involve himself offensively for much of the game. He turned it around in the second half, however, as he scored two excellent solo tries and reignited England’s hopes of a win.

  1. Manu Tuilagi6

The centre carried physically twice early in the first half and looked to be set for a strong game in Paris, although he left the field with an injury shortly after making that impact.

  1. Owen Farrell4

An uncustomary quiet and ineffective showing from Farrell, whose positive attacking impact was limited and even included a couple of rare handling errors. He successfully connected with all three of his kicks, though.

  1. Elliot Daly4

Like May, it was a largely quiet performance from Daly. He was safe defensively and, for the most part, dealing with the high ball, although there was little he could to positively impact the game in attack. A booming kick that rolled out of the back of France’s 22 also denied England some momentum after May’s much-needed try.

  1. George Ford5

The fly-half’s kicking from hand radar seemed slightly off in Paris, as he tended to put too overkick and ask too much of chasers such as Maro Itoje and Sam Underhill. He was aggressive in defence, found a beautiful deep touch in the second half and had a couple of moments with the ball in hand, although it was not the commanding performance many expected of him.

  1. Ben Youngs4

It was a game to forget for Youngs, who struggled to impact the game positively in the loose. He overkicked England’s chase regularly, missed a tackle on Vincent Rattez that saw the wing scamper over for a try and his pass to Furbank, which should have ended with a score, was too low for the full-back to take comfortably and in stride.

  1. Joe Marler8

Marler was consistently impressive in Paris and took the game to the France’s debutant tighthead prop at the scrum. With England regularly overkicking their kick chase, too, Marler was frequently on hand to make a physical tackle on the French kick returner once he had made the initial chase of England miss, thanks to the time and space afforded by the kick.

  1. Jamie George6

After some early struggles, the hooker connected with nine of his 11 lineouts and was typically busy in attack and defence. The work rate was never in question, but he was unable to have the significant positive impact he usually does in the loose and the tight for England.

  1. Kyle Sinckler7

Sinckler went very well at the scrum on Sunday afternoon, although his impact in the loose was uncharacteristically quiet. He wasn’t able to replicate the impact usually provided by the Vunipola brothers and the opportunities to show off his impressive ball-handling were few and far between.

  1. Maro Itoje6

A real mixed bag of a performance from England’s talisman who was impactful at the lineout, which included four takes, one steal and pressure on the French throws, and in defence, as he forced two knock-ons in the carry. He was unable to exert the same influence offensively, though, as he coughed up a couple of penalties and wasn’t able to impose himself as a ball-carrier.

  1. Charlie Ewels5

The lock struggled to fill the boots of George Kruis and, one impressive lineout steal aside, didn’t provide the set-piece impact that was expected. He also spilled a ball in contact to end the first half and he will need to turn in improved performances moving forward if he is to pressure Kruis, Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury for their spots in the squad.

  1. Courtney Lawes6

Lawes picked up the slack in terms of the quantity of ball-carrying with the Vunipola brothers missing, although he couldn’t quite replicate their incision and ability to get over the gain-line. He was strong on the fringes defensively, though, and was targeted successfully five times at the lineout by George.


  1. Sam Underhill6

A solid showing from the openside who was busy pouncing on loose balls, clearing out at the ruck in attack and offering himself as a ball-carrying option, although as with much of the England pack, his endeavour and work rate didn’t necessarily translate to execution and impact.

  1. Tom Curry5

Curry had his moments as a ball-carrier, although it was not the same standard of performance – as a No 8 – that England fans have become accustomed to seeing from Billy Vunipola. It included a knock-on and a couple of messy balls at the base of a scrum that was generally going very well for England.


  1. Luke Cowan-Dickie6

The Exeter Chief connected with his lineouts after arriving and brought a physical edge as a ball-carrier as England fought their way back into the game.

  1. Ellis Genge7

Genge set the tone with a big tackle on Romain Ntamack just moments after his arrival. The loosehead kept up England’s scrum advantage, too, and provided them with some much-needed energy.

  1. Will Stuart6

Limited opportunity to impact the game after coming on late.

  1. George Kruis6

Kruis had a couple of telling involvements after his introduction and will be unlucky if he does not return to the starting XV against Scotland.

  1. Lewis Ludlam6

Played with mobility and aggression after arriving, though chances to impact the game were limited.

  1. Willi Heinz6

Heinz provided much more zip and tempo to England and the team’s performance rose partly due to his introduction.

  1. Ollie Devoto – n/a

An unused replacement.

  1. Jonathan Joseph6

With France in complete control of the game for the most part, Joseph struggled to make an impact after replacing Tuilagi. He was unlucky not to have a try on a sharp inside line, which the French defence was penalised for being offside at, although England failed to capitalise on the ensuing scrum.

Watch: Don’t Mess with Jim – Jim picks his all-time Six Nations XV

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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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Jon 8 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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