England will ‘thrive’ off being ‘booed’ in France

Home » England will ‘thrive’ off being ‘booed’ in France

Women’s Six Nations: France v England

Venue: Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux Date: Saturday, 27 April Kick-off: 16:45 BST

Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and online; live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra; text commentary, highlights and report on BBC Sport website and app.

Alex Matthews says England will “thrive” off the expected fierce atmosphere in their Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam decider in France on Saturday.

The Red Roses have not lost in 28 Six Nations games since they were beaten by France in Grenoble in 2018.

England are chasing a third consecutive Grand Slam after four high-scoring bonus-point wins in this year’s tournament but are expecting to face their biggest test against unbeaten France in Bordeaux.

Number eight Matthews says France, backed by their vociferous home support, will “always show up” against England.

“They [France] will definitely show something we haven’t seen so far in the last few weeks,” said Matthews. “We will give it our best and hopefully that is what we need.

“We love being booed. I ran out for my 50th cap with the whole crowd booing and I didn’t want it any other way.

“We want to prove a point and silence the crowd early, which the girls will thrive off.”

Leaders England have scored 38 tries in their opening four games, double the amount scored by second-place France (19).

Victory over Les Bleus in front of a record crowd at Twickenham last year delivered the Grand Slam in outgoing head coach Simon Middleton’s last game.

France produced a spirited second-half fightback but Matthews says England are an even better side 12 months on under Middleton’s successor John Mitchell.

“Everyone is playing with a smile on their face,” Matthews added.

“We all have freedom to play heads-up rugby and if something is on, we play it.

“We haven’t spoken about last year. We are a different team now and we have so much more depth with a different style of play.

“Going into the weekend, we are just focused on us. We want to start strong and then have a big 23-player squad effort.”

Matthews’ confidence is echoed by England assistant coach Louis Deacon, who says Mitchell is “driving the strategy” for the Roses.

“The girls walk towards that environment and they relish the challenge,” said Deacon.

“It was my first experience [coaching] with the Roses in Bayonne two years ago and it was an awesome atmosphere, which the girls are hoping for again.

“We do prepare for it and we talk about relishing it. We train with noise so the girls are used to communicating with that noise level.

“We are blessed we have huge depth and we are able to go 15 players against 15 in training and it’s so competitive. It’s tougher than the games sometimes.

“That is how we get the competitiveness among the players and we have been able to raise our level in training way beyond anything we have before.”

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