England v France: Everything you need to know

Updated: 

There was no stopping the England juggernaut last year as they ended a 13-year wait for a Grand Slam and Eddie Jones' side will be expected to start their Six Nations title defence with a win over France on Saturday.

Victory over Les Bleus at Twickenham would be a record 15th in a row for an England side who are favourites to retain their title despite being without several players - including Billy Vunipola and Chris Robshaw - due to injury.

England have strength in depth and the onus will be on them to lay down a marker when they lock horns with France, who have also suffered injury blows and will miss dangerous centre Wesley Fofana.

There is an air of optimism around France under Guy Noves and they have become a tougher nut to crack under the hugely experienced former Toulouse coach, but are not seen as contenders for the trophy.

 

HEAD TO HEAD

England: 56
France: 39
Draw: 7

 

WHAT HAPPENED IN 2016?

England already had the Six Nations title in the bag before heading to Paris for the final game of the tournament, but there was still the small matter of a Grand Slam to play for.

And they were not to be denied at the Stade de France, where Danny Care and Dan Cole scored first-half tries and Anthony Watson added a third after the break to ease the nerves as England won 31-21.

Maxime Machenaud kept France in it with seven penalties, but they were unable to spoil England's party.

 

KEY PLAYERS

Owen Farrell (England)

While Farrell has proved to be lethal with the boot time and time again, there is so much more to his game than kicking. The inspirational Saracens man has popped up with important tries and has looked very much at home since being employed as a centre by Jones, showing intelligent game management as well as being strong in defence.

Baptiste Serin (France)

Inexperienced scrum-half Serin got the nod over Machenaud to start in a bold move from Noves. Serin will be making only his third start for France and the 22-year-old Bordeaux-Begles pivot will be under pressure to show why Noves put his faith in him.

THE LINE-UPS

England: Mike Brown, Jonny May, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley (captain), Dan Cole, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje, Tom Wood, Nathan Hughes.

France: Scott Spedding, Noa Nakaitaci, Remi Lamerat, Gael Fickou, Virimi Vakatawa, Camille Lopez, Baptiste Serin; Cyril Baille, Guilhem Guirado (captain), Uini Atonio, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Yoann Maestri, Damien Chouly, Kevin Gourdon, Louis Picamoles.

 

COACH COMMENTS

Eddie Jones (England): "It's always a historic game, certainly there is history between France and England. There's been 20 wars between England and France. That's a lot of rivalry there. There is another one happening on Saturday."

Guy Noves (France): "We need results, it is not just performance. Last year we got the players on our wavelength, now we must strive to make things happen."

 

OPTA STATS

- England have won 14 games in a row and a win against France would represent their longest ever run of consecutive victories, surpassing their run of 14 from 2002-2003. A Grand Slam would see England surpass New Zealand's tier-one record of 18 consecutive wins.

- France have not recorded a win at Twickenham in the Six Nations since 2005, when Dimitri Yachvili kicked all of Les Bleus' points in an 18-17 win over England.

- England have only ever lost three of 17 opening-day fixtures in the Six Nations since Italy joined in 2000 - losing to France in 2014 after going down to Wales in 2008 and 2005.

- France are one win away from recording their 400th victory, New Zealand (426) are the only other side to reach this milestone.