Poirot aiming to solve scrum mystery in time for England clash

France are into the quarter-finals, but first they must face their traditional rivals to decide who claims top spot in Pool C.

KUMAMOTO, 7 Oct – Jefferson Poirot has been scratching his head as to why France struggled to assert their scrum dominance over Tonga at Kumamoto Stadium on Sunday, but he is aware it is something they must resolve quickly with a top-of-the-table clash against England next.

Jacques Brunel's side meet their rivals from across the English Channel on Saturday at the International Stadium Yokohama and need to win to overtake England at the top of Pool C.

As starting loose-head prop, Poirot was at the heart of France’s forwards in their 23-21 victory over Tonga.

While they won the two scrums in which they had the put-in, they were unable to make any impression on Tonga’s forwards when the Sea Eagles packed down on their own ball, above.

"We weren't very good in this department, but right now I can't really explain why," Poirot said.

"We have to work this week to be more composed in this area and to firm up and develop our game.

"Our scrums didn't let us do what we wanted; we couldn't attack from the scrum. We need to work on it."

Since the last World Cup England have enjoyed bragging rights in Le Crunch.

They won at Twickenham in 2017 and 2019 and enjoyed a 31-21 victory at the Stade de France en route to a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2016.

France's only success came in 2018 when they won 22-16 in Paris, a match Poirot started.

Victory on Sunday is likely to make the difference between whether France faces Wales in the quarter-finals, or Australia, a team they last met in 2016 when they lost 25-23.

Wales also have better memories of their recent encounters and, like England, have won three of their past four meetings - most notably in February this year in Paris when the Welsh fought back from trailing 16-0 at half-time to win 24-19.

"The game against England is important as preparation for the quarter-finals," Poirot said.

"Whether it's Australia or Wales, the two will offer us the same intensity as the English. It's a match on which we'll gauge our progress.

"As a Frenchman, I love to play England. This match will be important to our development."

RNS ji/js/djk/ajr