So, there I was, writing to my old pal Ian and saying with great confidence how England would take a pasting from France. Too many changes, I said. He’s good this Ashton fella, but chuck in people who’ve hardly even met and what will happen? Mike Catt as captain? Interesting but risky.
Tell you what happened. I sat and ate my large slice of humble pie and washed it down with sweet, sweet tasting victory. OK, France were flat and never looked like they wanted to play. But England, at times, were superb. Never giving the French space to play. Tackles were hard and hardly one was missed. Catt was fantastic, his run for the first try was a break of genius. Lees might have won man of the match (and he was immense in performance as well as stature and presence) but Catt was the man around which the England performance flowed. Strettle had another fine game and Geraghty, when he appeared, looked an impact player of the type we desperately need. Congratulations to Ashton for working some magic and maintaining total realism after the match. It does give us hope, but it is only one game.
So, Ian, sorry to be a gloom merchant in my letter. I trust you burned it on the pyre of victory leaving the powerful echoes of Sweet Chariot as the abiding memory of a fine day at Twickenham.