England 10-53 France: Six Nations 2023 – as it happened
And so it’s finally happened. After nearly eight full years, Owen Farrell will not start an England game he is fit and available for, and moreover the majority of the (mostly casual) watching public have their yearned for replacement: Marcus Smith.
Leaving aside that there is a very daft compulsion in too many to malign Farrell, there is some merit in why Smith is preferred to him by Borthwick. England have played their brief moments at their best when the ball has been quick, and the approach of speed being more important than shape is manna for Marcus. England have also decided that Olly Lawrence is the way forward at 12, attempting to replicate dynamic of the Smith-Esterhuizen axis at Quins. Oh, and Nick Smith of Quins is England’s attack coach. See how this all starts to make sense. Of course, this is all contingent on the forwards delivering ball rapidly, which the France pack may have something to say about.
France have a key change of their own and it couldn’t be more different with Jonathan Danty back in the centre. Where England have gone for a lighter, flightier attacking keystone, Fabien Galthie has realised he needs a giant lad to run it up in the heart of his backline. Danty has not hugely convinced at this level before, but his absence has made him look approximately 347% better for this side. But, the central issue remains that the superstar half-backs of Dupont and Ntamack are simply not playing very well, and that could ultimately be their undoing here.