Rugby: England savours France defeat

17th November 2003, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Nov 17 (AFP) - The English press on Monday hailed the 24-7 rugby World Cup victory over the "old enemy" France, singling out "Lionheart Jonny" Wilkinson, who scored every one of England's points in their impressive semi-final win in Sydney.

LONDON, Nov 17 (AFP) - The English press on Monday hailed the 24-7 rugby World Cup victory over the "old enemy" France, singling out "Lionheart Jonny" Wilkinson, who scored every one of England's points in their impressive semi-final win in Sydney.

"England clear the air and blow France away," thundered The Daily Telegraph, plastering a picture of fly-half Wilkinson over its front page, as did most of its newspaper rivals.

"Lionheart Jonny gives us a massive kick by dumping the old enemy," the tabloid Sun exclaimed, while a Daily Mail headline saluted the "Man with gold in his boots".

"France run off the road by England's extra power," was the way The Times put it.

"Win the World Cup final against Australia in Sydney and they will become household names to rank alongside the footballing heroes of 1966" the paper added in a reference to England's football world cup victory at Wembley 37 years ago, which made household names of the likes of Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst. England have never won the rugby union version of the World Cup.

The Daily Express described Sunday's win over the French simply as "magnifique".

The broadsheet Guardian was waxing more lyrical over the hard-hitting display of power rugby, opining that the semi-final win in driving rain had left the English XV "one step from Heaven" with a "dream final" against hosts Australia to look forward to next Saturday.

The England team have been criticised here and elsewhere for playing a style of rugby which relies more on a strong pack and Wilkinson's golden boot than on a flowing running game.

The Guardian described the 24-7 win as a "Bitter, brutal end for France and (Fabien) Galthie," captain of the French side who announced his intention to retire from the game following France's third place play-off against New Zealand which will take place on Thursday.

The England-France game had been trailed in some quarters as a high-kicking showdown between Wilkinson and his French counterpart Frederic Michalak. In the event Michalak failed to impress, missing a string of kicks before eventually being substituted.

While the British press preferred to praise the English team rather than criticise the French, the Daily Mail headline declared; "Michalak crown slips as rain has decisive say".

Several correspondents in France reported on the disappointment across the English channel and the excuses aired, including blaming the rain, said to favour the English, the referee (ditto) and even the press coverage, deemed to have distracted the players, according to The Times.

© AFP


Subject: French news


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