Scrum-half Pierre Mignoni concedes France’s woeful performance against Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations has presented them with a confidence crisis ahead of next weekend’s game against England.
Les Bleus needed a late try from Damien Traille to see off a brave Scottish group 16-9 in Paris on Saturday but the performance did little to suggest France warranted their billing as tournament favourites.
And with England losing 11-9 to Wales in Cardiff on the opening weekend, France are wary of a backlash at Twickenham next Sunday.
Mignoni said: “We won and that’s the most important thing but now we must prepare well because next Sunday will be another story at Twickenham.
“We are not travelling there in the best condition. If we had won by 40 points (against Scotland) we would be more confident. Now we have a lot of work to do if we want to look good at Twickenham.”
At least France are unbeaten, and they know that performances are likely to get better.
“This is a great challenge for us,” Mignoni said. “Our level is obviously low and when you start so slowly, you can only progress.”
In order to stand a chance against England, France will have to improve their fragile mental state which threatened to hinder their progress against the Scots.
Mignoni said: “I did not start the match scared. But throughout the match, when I saw how the match was evolving with all the mistakes and missed opportunities, we all started wondering where we were going.
“Then it quickly got into our heads and we started to doubt ourselves. We had to try to put things right.
“Our strength was the fact that we managed to hold on, even though nothing was working properly, and we really wanted to fight back.”
There is no denying that it was, however, a poor performance from Bernard Laporte’s defending champions, a point Mignoni admits.
He said: “We completely missed out on our game. We cannot say that the Scots were excellent, they were simply good at times but also lost a lot of balls.
“I am very frustrated about that match. If we had kept the ball more consistently, we would have showed another image of the team. We were just too sloppy in all areas of the game.”