A Blend of Youth and Experience Can Do It

England and Harlequin's injured scrum half Danny Care on how England can beat the French

England will have to call on the old and experienced heads in the knockout stages of this Rugby World Cup. The road ahead will be a difficult one, but it’s not beyond England’s capability.

So far this tournament we have seen some incredibly good patches from England, but we haven’t yet seen a full 80 minute performance, this is what the fans and team manager Martin Johnson will want to see on Saturday.

England play France in the World Cup quarter final this weekend and they probably won’t know what to expect from the French as on their day, they can be one of the best sides in the world, but they have a habit of totally imploding the following week. On the other hand they can totally implode and then be one of the best sides in the world the following week.

So far this tournament, France have only had one good performance. They will be disappointed with their 14-19 loss to Tonga and against England, they will look to right some wrongs. The French always seem to have one superb game in World Cups and they are due that performance this year.

Playing the French is always a special occasion, whenever I have played them in the Six Nations they have been great games. This will be, for a lot of the guys, their biggest game to date in an England shirt.

With this side of the draw, England have an easier route to the final. The team is gifted with experience, both on and off the field. We have guys in the squad who played in the World Cup final in 2007 and we have guys who won the World Cup in 2003. England know how to get there so that will work in their favour.

The leadership and knowledge of the old heads will be vital, you have the experience in Lewis Moody, Mike Tindall and Jonny Wilkinson, this is coupled with some of the younger guys that bring youthful exuberance, so England have a great mix in their squad. This is all topped off with Martin Johnson who himself was there in 2003. He is so key in these final stages of the tournament for England as he has won finals for both club and country. He has done everything that every player in the squad aspires to do, so England couldn’t ask for a better role model.

If England progress past France, they will play either Wales or Ireland. That quarter final will be a fantastic spectacle as both sides are coming into some brilliant form. There is a huge rivalry between the two teams and whoever is the victor, they will be a tough semi-final opposition.

Back here in England, I’m back with Harlequins after a toe injury ruled me out of the World Cup. The boys are currently preparing for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership round six match against Leicester Tigers. Unfortunately I’m still unable to play, but everyone at Quins couldn’t be happier with how things are going so far this season.

We have won five games from five and we are playing really well, scoring tries for fun. Playing Leicester away is always an incredibly tough game. They have lost a lot of players to the World Cup and haven’t had the best start to the season by their standards. However, Leicester are an experienced side and they haven’t been crowned Champions of England eight times for no reason.

I think if we are ever going to beat Leicester away then now is the time to do it, this will be a great opportunity for us and one that we can’t miss. We’ve had very close games when we’ve gone to Welford Road in the past, but we’ve never been able to come away with a win. The lads are desperately hoping that we can do the whole thing and win this weekend to remain at the top of the league and continue our unbeaten record.

Danny Care - Harlequins and England


October 6, 2011

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You can watch England take on France at 8.30 on Saturday morning. The match will be shown live on ITV1.

Harlequins return to The Twickenham Stoop next Saturday when they play London Irish in the LV= Cup.

Tickets are still available and can be bought through the website – www.quins.co.uk/tickets or by calling the ticket office on: 0871 527 1315