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Women's Six Nations 2024: England will 'thrive' away from France's noise

Women's Six Nations 2024: England will 'thrive' away from France's noise

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Alex Matthews has become England's first-choice number eight since Sarah Hunter's retirement last year

  • author, Mantus Man
  • roles, BBC sports journalist

Women's Six Nations: France vs England

place: Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux date: Saturday 27 April Starting: 16:45 GMT

coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and online; Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra; Text comments, highlights and reports on the BBC Sport website and app.

Alex Matthews says England will “thrive” because of the ferocious atmosphere expected in the women's Six Nations Grand Final in France on Saturday.

The Red Roses are unbeaten in 28 Six Nations matches since their defeat to France in Grenoble in 2018.

England are bidding for a third successive Grand Slam title after four high-scoring wins at this year's tournament, but expect to face their biggest test against unbeaten France in Bordeaux.

And number eight Matthews says France, buoyed by vociferous crowd support, will “always show up” against England.

“they [France] “It's definitely going to bring up something we haven't seen so far in the last few weeks. We're going to do our best and hopefully that's what we need,” Matthews said.

“We love being booed. I came out for my 50th game being booed by the entire crowd and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Leaders England have scored 38 tries in their first four matches, twice as many as second-placed France (19).

France produced a strong performance in the second half, but Matthews says England are a better team after 12 months under John Mitchell, Middleton's successor.

“Everyone is playing with a smile on their faces,” Matthews added.

“We all have the freedom to play individual rugby and if something happens, we play it.

“We didn't talk about last year. We're a different team now, we have a lot more depth and a different style of play.

“Going into the weekend, we're just focused on us. We want to start strong and then have a great effort in the 23-man squad.”

Matthews' confidence was echoed in England assistant coach Louis Deacon, who said Mitchell was “driving the strategy” for the Roses.

“The girls walk into that environment and enjoy the challenge,” Deacon said.

“It was my first experience [coaching] With the Roses in Bayonne two years ago, it was a great atmosphere, something the girls hope to achieve again.

“We prepare for it and talk about enjoying it. We practice with noise so the girls get used to communicating with that noise level.

“We are fortunate that we have great depth and are able to field 15 players against 15 in training and it is very competitive. It is tougher than the matches sometimes.

“This is how we get the competitiveness between the players and we have been able to raise our level of training beyond anything we have had before.”