England v France, Six Nations, February 23
Robshaw demands 'fortress Twickenham'
February 22, 2013
England captain Chris Robshaw is hoping to make Twickenham a 'fortress' once again © PA Photos
England captain Chris Robshaw has urged his side to make Twickenham a place where their rivals do not want to come and play with another power-packed display in their Six Nations clash with France on Saturday.
A run of 22 consecutive victories over four years in the build up to the 2003 Rugby World Cup saw English rugby's HQ earn a reputation as a 'fortress' and Robshaw wants to recreate that fear factor as England build towards the sport's next showpiece event in 2015. Victory over France would not only represent a major step towards restoring that aura but also maintain England's hopes of securing what would be their first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2003.
"That's what you want to happen, you want your home ground to be that fortress that teams don't want to come and play in," Robshaw told PA Sport. "If you look back to the build-up to 2003, this place was a real fortress and teams coming here knew they were only going to get a loss.
"We are not at that stage yet but, fingers crossed, we can get to that. This is the next challenge on our journey. They will come here wanting to prove a couple of points. The first 20 minutes will be very physical and very intense. We are in a good place. It is about keeping your composure and hopefully getting the right result."
England may have won their last two outings at Twickenham - against New Zealand and Scotland - but they remain some way from making it a fortress having won four and lost three at home during Stuart Lancaster's tenure as coach.
And while France may have made their worst start to a Five or Six Nations championship for 31 years, with defeats to Italy and Wales, and only tasted victory at Twickenham three times since 1985, the 2011 World Cup finalists are not likely to be daunted by their latest visit.
"They are a wounded animal, they are a very proud nation and they enjoy playing against the English. It is a big one at Twickenham," warned England assistant coach Mike Catt. "As a team we have grown. We showed a lot of maturity in that Ireland win.
"They will probably throw something at us that we haven't experienced before. It is about how quickly we adapt to it and the players have done exceptionally well on the field, making those decisions and coming up with solutions. It is massively exciting and a massive learning step going forward."
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