Sun, Mar 12, 2006 - Page 24 News List

France's Magne says England lacks creativity

AP , PARIS

France's flanker Olivier Magne, right, tries to avoid a tackle by Ireland's scrum-half Peter Stringer during a Six Nations match at the Stade de France in Saint Denis, France, on Feb. 11. France defeated Ireland 43-31. France hosts England today.

PHOTO: AFP

France flanker Olivier Magne labeled England as predictable on Friday ahead of their Six Nations match this weekend.

Magne, who will play his 86th test match at the Stade de France today, says England has trouble adapting when it has to change tactics.

"English rugby is based on physical strength, discipline, seriousness and determination," Magne said. "They struggle to get out of their pre-established game plan. They can get easily lost when they are unsettled ... they probably lack creativity."

England, France, Ireland and Scotland have all won two out of three games, but Magne says Les Tricolores have not yet hit top form.

France lost 20-16 at Scotland in the opening round, conceded 28 straight points in beating Ireland 43-31, and then scored late points to unconvincingly win 37-12 over Italy.

"We are going to try to combine our good performances from our first half against Ireland and our second half against Italy," Magne said. "Then we should be fine. A win would erase some of the disappointment of our previous performances."

France coach Bernard Laporte has recalled scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili, who kicked all the points last year when France upset England 18-17 at Twickenham, in place of Toulouse's Jean-Baptiste Elissalde.

Yachvili also scored 21 points the season before in a 24-21 home win against England.

"Dimitri is fresher physically and he has always been good against the English," Laporte said.

England, having thrashed defending champion Wales 47-13 in the opening round, was unimpressive in beating Italy 31-16. It then lost 18-12 to Scotland at Murrayfield in the tournament's major upset.

Since winning the World Cup in November 2003, England has lost 11 tests and won only five of the last 11 Six Nations matches.

"This will be a huge test for us -- all games against the French are," England coach Andy Robinson said. ``We know they will be up a couple of notches because it's the English, and we understand the importance of this game. I have said to the guys that our mentality has to be to view this as a knockout game. We are looking to do that in a place where not many England teams have won, and where not many teams at all have won."

Laporte says France must match England physically at the sold-out 78,000-capacity stadium.

England captain Martin Corry has warned his players to be wary of the French running game.

"They are willing to open up from inside their own 22 -- and from any turnover ball they are electric," Corry said. "If you take your eye off one of them and focus on another they can take you apart."

France fullback Thomas Castaignede has been bedridden the last two days with flu.

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