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Romane Ménager ‘ready to fight’ against England

France's number 8 Romane Menager (C) runs with the ball during the Six Nations international women's rugby union match between Scotland and France at The Hive Stadium in Edinburgh on March 30, 2024. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

France back-row Romane Ménager talks about the state of the French team ahead of Saturday’s Guinness Women’s Six Nations encounter with England, that will decide the destination of this year’s title.

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Ménager will again line up alongside her sister Marine, who is one of four Les Bleues players who have been recalled for the Championship finale.

You haven’t beaten England since 2018. Is there a sense of revenge in the French squad?

“We talked about it a bit at the beginning of the week, but the truth is that the France squad has changed a lot in the last few years and we’re all going through things together. We’re not at all thinking: ‘This time we have to win; we’ve been losing for too long’.

“We really want to take this game as it comes and give the best performance we can. Winning would be a great reward and we’re putting all the ingredients in place to be ready for the weekend.”

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What did you change in the build-up to this game?

“We haven’t really changed much. The training sessions change almost every year and we’re looking for solutions to make sure we’re really in tune with what the staff want to do and how we, the players, feel on the pitch.

“We’re very aware of each other, we’re getting more and more used to living together and we’re having some really good times.

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“I think we’re all a little nostalgic for the idea that this is our last game.”

In Bordeaux on Saturday, you will be supported by at least 22,000 fans. How do you feel about that?

“It is also part of our small reward. We can see that what we produce attracts people and that they like it.

“Having so many people in Bordeaux is reassuring. We know that we’re well supported, that the audience is motivated by the idea of supporting us.

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“So, of course, it’s great to know that we’re really at home on Saturday and that a lot of people are behind us.”

Last year you played England in front of more than 58,000 fans (losing 38-33). Is that the kind of game you thrive on?

“Yes, events like this help us as players and women’s rugby in France grow. It’s developing and attracting more and more people.

“It’s good for everyone and I hope it will continue to do so around the world.”

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France Women's
21 - 42
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England Women's
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What do you think of England’s unbeaten run in all competitions since the final of the last World Cup in 2022?

“Every team has their weaknesses, so we try to assess strategically and in terms of our game plan what might put them in trouble.

“That’s what we’re trying to work on this week, but we’re not going to repeat 1,000 things, we’re really going to concentrate on our game.”

The last two matches (Italy and Wales) have shown that you’ve improved on the first two. Do you feel the same way?

“These two games have really helped us. What they have in common is that we were able to reward ourselves in the penalty count.

“We managed to be more pragmatic. That’s what we’ve been working on in the second half of the tournament: as soon as we get into their half, we have to go out and score. In that sense, it was very good for us, and we had a lot of fun.”

Where is the balance between the free-flowing game we saw against Italy and the more restrictive but highly effective game we saw in Cardiff?

“Personally, I’m happier when we have the ball and can play a lot. But to be honest, if we touch the ball three times in a game and score three tries, I’m happy with that too.

“If we can play and score every time, that’s perfect.”

As a back row, you’ll be at the forefront of what promises to be a huge battle…

“It’s going to be a great fight, that’s for sure. We’re ready for it. We’ve come a long way.

“Physically, we’re ready to give and take all game long. I really like these girls. If you want to play against the best, you have to be on their level.

“I’m really looking forward to playing them.”

Against Wales, we saw a very solid and completely airtight defence. Does that help you going into a game like this?

“We’ve been pretty solid defensively since the start of the tournament, although there are still a few things we need to sort out.

“The last game in Wales gave us a bit more confidence and made us realise that we can do things well defensively. When we stick together like that, it pays off.

“So, we want to keep that momentum going and improve our ability to defend hard and put teams under pressure.”

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