Ben Youngs calls for rebuilding Twickenham into a fortress

Ben Youngs has urged England to continue rebuilding Twickenham into a fortress as they stand on the brink of a team-record 15th successive Test victory.

Eddie Jones’ men launch their Grand Slam defence against France today needing only one more win to surpass the 14-game milestone set during Clive Woodward’s reign.

In 2015 Wales and Australia rampaged through Twickenham to knock England out of the World Cup they were hosting, but they have since amassed seven consecutive victories on home soil.

“Winning at Twickenham certainly adds confidence and belief within the side,” Leicester scrum-half Youngs said. “Hopefully we’re beginning to build that reputation so that when teams come to play us they think it’s a real tough place to crack. We want to make Twickenham as intimidating as possible.

“It’s down to us to perform and keep continuing the run we’re on. It also adds a prize for the team if we crack it.

“We really want to hit the ground running in this tournament. The run we’ve been on doesn’t count for anything unless we get it right at the weekend.”

Talk of a French revival after years of decline will gain credence if France storm Twickenham, a venue where they have not prevailed since 2007, but they enter the 102nd meeting between the rivals as massive underdogs.

Leading the blue charge will be Louis Picamoles, the marauding Northampton number eight who has been a spectacular success in his first season at Northampton, and Youngs views him as the catalyst for their attacking game.

“The Saints boys know Louis well and have spoken about how important he is,” Youngs said.

“He is the heartbeat of the French team, he’s a big physical presence who certainly gets them on the front foot. Guys like him have been mentioned, so we know the importance of dealing with his ball-carrying threat. Once the French side get momentum it only takes one offload and off they go.”

Eddie Jones has warned France to expect another “war” today.

“There’s been 20 wars between England and France. That’s a lot of rivalry there. There is another one happening on Saturday,” said Jones.

France skipper Guilhem Guirado has warned they must be ready for England’s onslaught.

“We must be ready to defend. We know England are a very efficient side with a direct approach and above all we are aware of the ferocity with which they play the game. England have said what they want to do, good for them. We worked hard in November and we competed well against two of the three best nations in the world, Australia and New Zealand.

“We know where we went wrong and we’ve worked hard. We know England have dominated their matches, but, I repeat, we are just concentrating on ourselves.

“We know we must be aggressive in defence and attack. We know we must hang onto the ball and, when we do, score points.”

RBS SIX NATIONS

England v France

Today: Twickenham, 4.50pm

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)

TV: RTE Two, ITV

Bet: England 1/8, France 11/2, Draw 25/1



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