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French rugby terms to know ahead of Le Crunch with England

To prepare for France versus England in the Six Nations, here are some key French rugby terms to help you watch in a bar or with friends

It is Le Crunch on Saturday evening (March 11) as England takes on France in the six nations Pic: oasisamuel / Shutterstock

It is Le Crunch on Saturday evening (March 11) as England takes on France in the penultimate round of matches in the Six Nations rugby tournament.

The game kicks off at 17:15 CET and is broadcast on France 2.

A defeat for France in the match would end their back-to-back title ambitions.

Here The Connexion gives the rundown on key French rugby terms if you’re watching the game in a French bar or with friends.

French rugby terms

While some French rugby terms are borrowed from the English language – epitomised by calling the game Le Crunch – there is still plenty to know. 

Let us start with the rugby positions. The team is composed of arrières (backs), ailliers (wingers) who are nicknamed ‘les gros’, demi d’ouverture (fly-half), demi de mêlée (scrum-half or half-back). 

Next, some of the most dangerous – and sometimes forbidden – moves. They include un tampon (huge tackle), une cuillère (ankle tap), when a diving player touches the feet of a running opponent to make him lose balance, une cravate (high tackle), when a player slams the upper body of an opponent with his arms and une cathédrale when a player is thrown upside down and lands on his head.
Antoine Dupont did a cuillère on Finn Russell eight days ago when France faced Scotland.

However forbidden, Le Crunch witnessed a cathédrale in 1998 when Philippe Carbonneau lifted winger David Rees.

Depending on how much pressure English players will put on France, you can expect some French people to ask players to botter la balle en touche (kick the ball in touch), lâcher la balle (give the ball) or make excessive use of chandelle (up and under).
Others may ask the referee to sanction with la biscotte (yellow card) any fouling English players.

Other terms you might hear are French supporters marvelling at moves such as a crochet (side-step), passe après contact (off-load), quadrage-débordement - also shortened as quad-deb (fend-off), croisée (cross pass) or raffût, when a player stops another in a one-arm move. 

Read also: Scotland and Ireland, then France, top readers’ support in Six Nations

How confident are the French ahead of Le Crunch?

The French will be confident after winning the Grand Slam in last year’s Six Nations with a final-day victory over England, 25-13.

Not only have the French been playing well for a number of years, but England can also be considered a side in transition after Eddie Jones was sacked as head coach in December, nine months before the Rugby World Cup in France. 

While France cannot win another Grand Slam this year, it could yet overtake Ireland at the top of the table.
But to do this, victory over England is essential. 

Much of France’s chances hinge on the performance of Antoine Dupont, the world’s best player in 2021.

France’s head coach is Fabien Galthié -- not to be confused with the similarly-named to Paris-Saint-Germain’s ex football coach Christophe Galtier – and he remains one of the most respected figures in French rugby.
He is assisted by general manager Raphaël Ibanez, another respected and iconic player with 98 appearances with France.

Read also

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Annecy stun French football giants Marseille to reach cup semi-final

Privatised Eurostar security will raise terror risk, says French union

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