England's grandads have plenty of bite

10th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

10 October 2007, PARIS (AFP) - England's director of rugby Rob Andrew says the world champions will happily be dismissed as 'grandad's army' if they defy the odds and clinch a second successive World Cup.

10 October 2007

PARIS (AFP) - England's director of rugby Rob Andrew says the world champions will happily be dismissed as 'grandad's army' if they defy the odds and clinch a second successive World Cup.

England face old enemy France in Saturday's semi-finals having overcome a record defeat to South Africa in the pool stages before going on to beat Australia in the quarter-finals.

"In 2003 people were calling England 'Dad's Army' but look where that experience got us. What will they call us now - Grandad's Army?," said Andrew, a former England flay-half.

"It's true that experience isn't just about age, many of this group of players have won World Cups and European Cups - that's an awful lot of experience to draw on.

"That's the reason this England squad has come through the last three weeks in the face of adversity; they have that experience to fall back on and have the ability to understand what's required to turn things around without panicking."

Andrew also said it is no coincidence that all four semi-finalists (South Africa and Argentina play on Sunday) have come out of the two toughest pools and are all battle-hardened.

"For the last three weeks, we have had a group of coaches and players who have embraced that pressure. And look at the French. They deserve enormous credit too, they've had the same issues to deal with as us after fluffing their lines on opening night."

France lost their first match 17-12 to Argentina but hit back to defeat Six Nations Triple Crown winners Ireland and then beat title favourites New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

"From now on, the squad will have to deal with slightly different pressures. The burden has shifted from being underdogs and having our backs to the wall to one of expectation," said Andrew.

"I think we still feel like underdogs - this is France, in France, in a World Cup semi final and we lost to them twice in August.

"Against France it will come down to marginal things. There will probably be several moments during the course of the game when something swings one way or the other.

"You've just got to hope that the guys in your team do the right thing one more time than the opposition and that's where experience counts."

AFP

Subject: French news

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