France number eight Gregory Alldritt declared that England paid the price for Eddie Jones’ pre-match promise of delivering “brutal physicality” in their Six Nations opener.
Jones’ words caused controversy in French rugby circles because of the connotation of violence and they duly backfired as Les Bleus claimed a 24-17 victory having raced into a 24-0 lead built on their own ferocious onslaught.
England were battered in the collisions and Alldritt revealed Jones’ posturing was used as motivation.
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“Eddie was saying that we couldn’t manage the brutality of the England team,” the man of the match said.
“But when you are a winner, a competitor, you just want to show him that you can manage that.
“Of course we read it. We were clearly going to put some fighting spirit out there.”
Alldritt paid tribute to Shaun Edwards, France’s new defence coach whose stamp was all over the home performance.
“Shaun is a tough guy and he always wants aggression from you, in every bit of work and in every tackle,” Edwards said.
“He wants big tackles. And speed in the tackle. He is bringing a lot of experience to us at international level and a lot of competence too.”
Jonny May conjured two outstanding solo tries to propel England back into contention when they appeared to be fighting a lost cause, but he was also partly responsible for France’s second.
The Leicester wing stopped playing to appeal to referee Nigel Owens in the belief the ball had been knocked-on by France in the build-up to Charles Ollivon’s 20th-minute touchdown.
While he was protesting, France continued and it was a costly error for which May accepts blame, although he thought Owens had blown the whistle at a noisy Stade de France.
“That’s one of the first things you learn as a kid isn’t it – play to the whistle. And I didn’t, so I’ll own that one,” May said.
“But what I saw is that it hit his hand and then somebody in front of him caught it, and Nigel did go to blow his whistle. But I own that. Play to the whistle.”
– Press Association
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