WHEN old enemies collide, you can usually be assured that sparks will fly.
Unfortunately, the only fireworks on show during England’s draw with Scotland were those which greeted the teams before kick off.
Both England and Scotland went into the game at Murrayfield needing a win to get their campaigns back on track, but when all was said and done neither team got what they wanted – and in all honesty neither deserved to.
England were particularly lacklustre in the first 20 minutes. I was expecting, or perhaps hoping, that Martin Johnson’s men would come charging out of the blocks, with the Irish defeat still fresh in the memory, and assert some authority.
Tentative play from both teams, however, meant scoring chances were at a premium, but the impressive Dan Parks and our ever-reliable Jonny Wilkinson, who overtook Ronan O’Gara as the top points scorer in Five/Six Nations history, traded kicks.
So England supporters will have to wait another 12 months until they get another shot at the RBS 6 Nations title, but in the meantime there is the small matter of a game against the French in Paris.
The French have been head and shoulders above the rest throughout this year’s competition and during their latest victory, against Italy at the Stade de France, they played some scintillating stuff.
With Harinordoquy leading by example up front and Morgan Parra dictating the pace behind, they have found the perfect blend of defensive grit and attacking flair.
Their play is both decisive and incisive and has all the dynamism that I was looking for England to display going into this campaign.
If England are to stand any chance of victory, and wreck French dreams of a Grand Slam in the process, the forwards will have to stand up and be counted – and I believe they will.
They can’t afford to be bullied and now that they have nothing to lose, should be able to play with some freedom.
The last time I was at the Stade de France I was strapped to the saddle during the Dallaglio Cycle Slam.
Now that the adventure has come to a close I’ll be enjoying the rather more comfortable environment of the studio come kick off this evening.
In total I cycled 2,800km, with the help of some dedicated friends, from Rome to Murrayfield, taking in Paris, Twickenham, Cardiff and Dublin along the way.
It was a crazy idea at the outset I know, however it’s all been in aid of Sport Relief and the Dallaglio Foundation making the physical challenge well worth it. To relive parts of the ride or to make a donation please visit www.dallagliocycleslam.com
Lawrence Dallaglio is rugby ambassador for Greene King IPA, the Official Beer of England Rugby. To find your nearest Official England Rugby Supporter Pub visit www.greenekingipa.co.uk