Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Robshaw wants 'fortress Twickenham'

Chris Robshaw wants opposing teams to fear coming to Twickenham

Chris Robshaw has challenged England to continue the reconstruction of 'Fortress Twickenham' by making their headquarters as inhospitable as possible for France in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations showdown.

England were unbeaten at home for 22 consecutive Test matches over four years in the build-up to their 2003 Rugby World Cup triumph and Robshaw wants Twickenham to be a feared venue once again.

"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 said. "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."

He added: "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 are a long way from making Twickenham - which was built on the site of a market garden in 1907 - that fortress of old. They have won four and lost three at home under Stuart Lancaster. But their last two outings ended with handsome victories over New Zealand and Scotland before they secured a 12-6 win in Dublin a week ago last Sunday.

England have recalled abrasive hooker Dylan Hartley, wrecking-ball centre Manu Tuilagi and tackling machine Courtney Lawes, who declared his intent to put the French 'bully boys' in their place.

After successive defeats to Wales and Italy confirmed France's worst run of results in the championship since 1958, head coach Philippe Saint Andre finally decided to pair Wesley Fofana and Mathieu Bastareaud in a powerful midfield and recall the often majestic scrum-half general Morgan Parra.

"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," said 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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