France 'super-motivated' – Pape

Date published: February 1 2014

France captain Pascal Pape said they will face England in Paris on Saturday with no scars from last season's disastrous campaign.

France captain Pascal Pape has insisted they will face England in their Six Nations opener in Paris on Saturday with no scars from last season's disastrous campaign.

For France, 2013 was one of the worst years in their recent history with les Bleus finishing bottom of the table in Europe's major international rugby union championship for the first time since Italy became the 'sixth nation' in 2000.

But Pape, speaking on the eve of the Stade de France showdown, said a France side coached by former Test captain Philippe Saint-André were over the worst.

“Yes, we've turned the page,” Stade Français lock Pape said on Friday.

“Last season was complicated for us, but that doesn't mean we should cast everything about it into the dustbin.

“We also gained a lot in terms of experience, that's going to help us.

“Now we want to concentrate on 2014, to think of the future and to the huge match tomorrow against England.

“All the players are super-motivated, we want to show a great image of the France team.”

Pape, captain in place of the injured Thierry Dusautoir, said there would be little need for motivational speeches on his part given France were playing arch-rivals England in the latest edition of the fixture known on both sides of the Channel as 'Le Crunch'.

“France v England matches are among the most iconic in the history of French rugby, there's no need to talk (to the players) too much, I'm hoping there'll be more action than talking, motivation will arrive by itself.”

Both France and England have powerful packs and Pape said he was expecting an immense clash between the two sets of forwards.

“The English have always been very strong up front, it's part of their tradition.

“It's a super challenge for us. If we, the forwards, show up and we play them at their own game, then we can get a result.”

Pape said he'd inherited the captain's armband with “a great deal of pride”.

“All I want is to start off with a victory because last year we began by losing to Italy and that set us up for a bad championship,” he added.

“I want us to give everything on Saturday, so we won't have any regrets.”

England have yet to lose against France since Stuart Lancaster became their coach, the Red Rose triumphing 23-13 at Twickenham last year after a 24-22 success in Paris in 2012.

France's last win over England was a 19-12 victory in the quarter-finals of the 2011 World Cup in Auckland when Marc Lievremont and Martin Johnson respectively were in charge of the teams.

That result signalled the end of 2003 World Cup-winning captain Johnson's time as England boss, while Lievremont was replaced by Saint-André after the tournament despite taking France to the final, where they suffered an agonising 8-7 loss to hosts New Zealand.