France have not beaten England away from home in the Guinness Six Nations for 16 years, but manager Raphaël Ibanez believes they should use their last performance at Twickenham as inspiration.
An inexperienced France team, without the majority of their first-choice players, led into the final seconds of the final of the Autumn Nations Cup against England before eventually losing in sudden death extra-time.
And for Ibanez, that performance should give them confidence as they head to Twickenham where their last Championship victory came in 2005 – they did beat England in a World Cup warm-up match in 2007 and Italy in the 2015 World Cup at the ground.
Ibanez said: “There is a lot of history in this stadium, where we have not won for a while, but in the autumn, it’s important to remember that we saw a France squad show a huge amount of generosity and playing to its strengths against England. That is the image that we need to keep in our minds.”
Les Bleus will be without one of their key men however, with Bernard Le Roux having been ruled out with injury.
Toulon lock, Swan Rebbadj, who made his debut in the autumn, has been called up in place of Le Roux, with Romain Taofifenua primed to come into the starting line-up.
France are preparing for their third game of the Championship, and Ibanez knows how important it is for the team to reach peak form for the encounter.
He added: “The third game in the Six Nations is always a turning point. It’s even more unique because we need to ensure that all the players are at a similar level physically. Some were lucky enough to play with their clubs, others had to wait.
“Our objective, with the performance group, is to ensure that every player is a peak form. Thanks to the matches we’ve already played, we have unquestioned experience of the necessary standards to arrive with the most energy possible.”