England v France was widely regarded by pundits as the weekend’s Six Nations game as Eddie Jones’ side won their first game of the tournament.
Here is what the UK national media are saying about it.
From villain to hero, from penalty to match winner, from serial offender to savior.
Maro Itoje’s transformation from the man from the fall of Cardiff to the superhero of Twickenham has been hailed as “sensational” by Eddie Jones.
A reputation damaged by the gift of five penalties in Wales a fortnight ago returned to its full glory on Saturday in south-west London.
In front of Lions coach Warren Gatland, Itoje reaffirmed his point of view not only to be considered the best in the country, but possibly the whole world.
England played brilliantly and beating France is a huge moment. Based on this win, England can banish the less good stuff they’ve produced this season and really keep going for the next 12 months. There was an approach and a positivity that I really enjoyed – they matched the French in terms of speed of thought and action, the body language was superb and they dug really deep when it mattered.
Everyone involved can be very proud – there was a huge feel-good factor – and they need to commit to this style and type of game they produced against New Zealand and Ireland in 2019. Saturday showed how England should always play. Keep doing the same and you won’t lose very often.
England not only managed to keep a cover on Dupont and his sides, they chose to outdo them in what was a game for the ages.
“It was a game between two great teams in an absolutely full discussion: lungs that howled, legs that looked like rooted oaks.
“These players kind of refused to stop giving everything they had for their respective causes. My main feeling, at the final whistle, was absolute respect for both groups of players. They all gave their all. .
“England were under tremendous pressure and they held on. You had Itoje coming out of the line and hitting the French behind the winning line, Curry was charging the best player in the world, Sinckler was tearing the blue defensive line like a beef offended and Slade hit Vakatawa so hard that you worry about his rib cage.
“Most of the teams that face France and their talismanic scrum-half Antoine ask what is Dupont? On Saturday England found the answer.”
The independent: “England have a head start in the World Cup”
Eddie Jones said England’s Six Nations victory over France on Saturday gave his side a head start in the 2023 World Cup race.
Anthony Watson and Maro Itoje’s tries helped England beat a resurgent France side 23-20 at Twickenham, putting an end to the Blues’ Six Nations Grand Slam hopes.
Antoine Dupont and Damian Penaud crossed paths for France, but the visitors ran out of steam and England’s smarter game management put them back on the path to victory.
France will host the 2023 World Cup and are already touted as one of the favorites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup at home – but astute coach Jones has insisted England are determined to match them stride for stride .
“They are described as the best team in the world,” Jones said. “It’s a good team, it’s a quality team with quality players and they are well trained.
“And we told our players before the game that we were going to bring them into the World Cup.
“It’s a good team, they are developing, we are developing, and it’s going to be a good race between the two of us. And we started a bit on that today.
After all those weeks of endless kicking last fall, it’s a match that made you fall in love with Test rugby again. The way England won it should give us confidence in the future of this team. What we saw in Twickenham was breathtaking, literally and figuratively. Both teams played with incredible pace, sheer ambition and amazing precision. England have shown how great they can be by combining an attacking spirit with the energy and hunger that the tournament has sometimes lacked.
Under Eddie Jones, they tended to produce their best performances and most impressive wins when they had the emotional sharpness that comes under pressure; when you’ve taken a lot of flak and your reputation is on the line.
For a man here, they got up and stood. England came with a plan and executed it to perfection, while also proving they can fix things on the fly – again, which we haven’t seen enough of lately.
When England deconstruct their performances in this tournament, they will see everything that came from the selection of the original squad. The limited roster meant choosing from a squad of 28 to 35, the norm for their opponents. It limited Jones’ leeway and reach to brush up on his starting lineup, but there’s another issue that was more important.
The fact that the Saracens players, with the exception of the exceptional Itoje, took a long time to regain their form can now be seen to be due to the fact that they had no club playing time before the tournament. It’s easy to say that Jones should have known it but, even with this hindsight, it’s not easy to tell him what he should have done about it.
What would have been said if he had left out all these players and rid the team of its hundreds of caps of experience? The English league only resumed two weeks ago so Saracens players would not have had any playing time away from the squad ahead of the Wales game.