France have arrived in London for Sunday’s Autumn Nations Cup final against England with an XV containing none of the starters that defeated Ireland 35-27 in the October 31 Six Nations finale and just one starter – Matthieu Jalibert – from the team that beat Scotland 22-15 at Murrayfield in the November 22 Nations Cup game.

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The absence of so many recognised front line Test players has left England heavy favourites to become the champions in the one-off tournament organised to fill the void which followed the cancellation of European tours featuring the Rugby Championship teams.

England boss Eddie Jones, though, is in no way underestimating the Nations Cup challenge that will be presented at Twickenham, claiming that France have a system of play no matter which individuals are filling their jerseys.  

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The utterly ruthless way France assistant Shaun Edwards prepares rugby teams

“The consistency about the French team is they have a certain consistency they play,” he explained about Fabien Galthie’s side which has beaten Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy in recent weeks while also getting a 28-0 walkover against Fiji.   

“It was evident the team that played against Italy played exactly with the same ratio of kicks and passes and field position specifics that their team had previously played. 

“They are building up a project that comprises a squad of 45 players. They are all educated to play the French way, they defend the same way, they attack the same way. The differences come from the individuals and we’re doing our homework on those individuals as well as we can. 

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“We understand that this is a quality French team albeit different from what has been playing. You can’t underestimate the quality of player that is there. They have won two of the last three U20s competitions and these are identified as the best young players. They will be looking at this as an opportunity to put their front foot forward so they are a dangerous animal.”

 

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