Since the Middle Ages, England and France have not been the best of friends. We don’t seem to see eye to eye on many a subject but, despite a few hundred years of war under our belts, they are still our favourite ‘frenemy’ – especially when it comes to the rugby.
The first Anglo-French rugby union match was held in 1906, with England winning 31–21. Fast forward 102 games and we’re 17 matches up…it’s not like we’re counting, or anything!
With the RBS 6 Nations fast approaching, the Anglo-French game, fondly known as Le Crunch, is one of the most popular matches to watch at Twickenham. And with these five up-and-coming French rugby stars selected in the squad – 2017’s Le Crunch promises to be an epic match.
After bursting on to the international scene at the age of 18 in the RBS 6 Nations 2013, Fickou has struggled to lock down a spot in the French centres despite being widely tipped to become one of the world’s best. Tall and athletic with great pace and balance, Fickou is a danger man that has the attacking potential to slice open even the tightest of defences.
Standing at 6”1 and weighing a solid 92kg, Vakatawa is one of the new breed of massive outside backs. Playing either wing or centre, Vakatawa is a human wrecking ball that would strike fear into even the hardiest of professional rugby players. Despite not even having a club, the Fijian born bruiser is obviously popular with coach Guy Noves and will undoubtedly feature in the French fold this season. You can’t miss him!
Selected for the French tour to Argentina in summer 2016, Serin started at scrum-half in both Tests against Los Pumas. Losing the first game and winning the second, Serin was a standout performer and even took over the kicking duties in the second Test. The scrum half position is much revered in France and many commentators believe Serin could be the next ‘petit general’, following in the footsteps of greats such as Fabien Galthié or Pierre Berbizier.
Club: Racing 92
In a club side that won French Top 14 title in 2015/16, Chat was an outstanding performer earning him a place in both the RBS 6 Nations 2016 squad and the Argentina summer tour squad. Chat is a powerful, dynamic hooker who plays like an additional back-row forward. His appearances may be limited due to incumbent French captain Guilhem Guirado also being a hooker, but expect Chat to make a big impact off the bench and to become a star in future years.
Club: Clermont Auvergne
Les Bleus are known for big, powerful forwards and Jedrasiak is certainly that. Abrasive yet athletic, Jedrasiak has become a regular fixture in a highly successful Clermont side. The French have tried various locks in recent years, with no one player really holding down a starting position. Could Jedrasiak be the man to join Yoann Maestri in what could be a very useful second row pairing?