SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Yes, France have monsters – but they are there for the taking! My three key clashes England must win in Le Crunch

It is a long shot, but England can still win the 2024 Six Nations with a victory away to France on Saturday night so long as Ireland are beaten at home by Scotland.

By the time they take to the field in Lyon, Steve Borthwick and his players will know the result from Dublin. Regardless of what happens, England have to play as if the Championship is on the line. That is the attitude I would have been driving this week if I had been in Borthwick’s shoes as head coach. If Ireland down Scotland and win the title then so be it.

That’s out of England’s control.

But I want to see them take on Les Bleus with all guns blazing and build on what was a fantastic performance against Ireland. Last weekend, England finally injected speed into their game. It was a joy to watch. But England can’t rest on their laurels.

The Ireland success will mean nothing if they do not turn up in Le Crunch, especially after the hammering they took last year at Twickenham.

France have some enormous forwards but they are there for the taking on Saturday night

It’s quite clear France haven’t been at their best without Antoine Dupont.

I do not think they have emotionally recovered from losing at the quarter-final stage of their home World Cup last year. Ireland were superb in the opening weekend of this year’s Six Nations and poured salt on the wound.

But I kept a close eye on France’s 45-24 win over Wales last Sunday with their meeting with England in mind. A young Wales side gave them a tough challenge for an hour. But then Fabien Galthie unleashed some raw power from the bench and Warren Gatland’s rookies couldn’t cope with the pressure. There can be no doubt France have some enormous forwards.

But they are there for the taking.

England will certainly have to match that physicality to have a chance of success, particularly at the scrum. France’s scrum destroyed Wales at times.

But Ireland did well against them in round one.

And England’s scrum was good against Ireland. That should build plenty of confidence. Let’s not forget, England have a big old pack of their own.

I love the physicality of George Martin.

Uini Atonio (L) and flanker Paul Boudehent put in a crunching tackle on Italy's Danilo Fischetti

Uini Atonio (L) and flanker Paul Boudehent put in a crunching tackle on Italy’s Danilo Fischetti 

The Leicester forward is still a relatively new face but he is uncompromising and was brilliant against Ireland, as he was in the World Cup semi-final against South Africa. He seemed to get the best out of Maro Itoje last week too.

If England get on top at the scrum, it will be a huge boost to their confidence. Even parity at the set-piece will give their players a lift. England have the talent and power to not only get on top of France physically, but also the pace to run them off their feet. That’s what I want to see.

While England can go toe-to-toe with France in the scrum and line-out, I wouldn’t be looking to engage in a set-piece battle. Let’s get the ball in and away.

England can still play even quicker.

It might not be enough to win the Six Nations, but they can still do something very special this weekend. There are a few ways England can improve the speed of their game further.

I’d like to see quick throw-ins to line-outs and tap-and-goes from penalties and free-kicks. England have to inject speed into the small moments.

That is where tempo really counts.

England boss Steve Borthwick can build on the momentum of stunning victory over Ireland

England boss Steve Borthwick can build on the momentum of stunning victory over Ireland

England’s players need to have the mindset that they can score from anywhere and in different ways. We are seeing teams kick for the corner and set up rolling mauls instead of kicking for goal more often, especially in the first half of games. It is seen as the attacking option.

But if players are sharp enough, the tap and go is how you inject pace and attacking threat without allowing defences to reset.

England showed the talent they have against Ireland. But complacency is the enemy and must not happen under any circumstance. Lyon will be an incredible atmosphere England can rise to. Nothing is more likely to snap the French out of their funk than England coming to town on the back of beating the Irish.

England have a huge summer ahead of them touring New Zealand who will be under new coach Scott Robertson.

The All Blacks will have a new verve. Robertson is a maverick coach. His teams make you go ‘wow’.

The momentum England can build from beating Ireland and their upcoming games against France and New Zealand could define the next four years. England were quick to say they proved their doubters wrong after defeating Ireland. I do not think that is the case. England fans expect those performances. I know I certainly do.

Far from proving anything to those outside the camp, I think England proved something to themselves. That is far more powerful.

Selection of George Furbank shows England have finally acknowledged the need for speed

Selection of George Furbank shows England have finally acknowledged the need for speed

That belief is unstoppable once you have felt it. That is what England can discover more of in Lyon and New Zealand.

That belief is not about thumping your chest. It is a belief that you can play your way, attack the scoreboard, score from anywhere, and win from difficult situations.

For me, it was a belief we could play at a pace that our opposition would not be able to live with. That was my mantra as England coach.

I used to encourage Jason Robinson to take quick throws to himself, Matt Dawson to tap and go, and the forwards to jog into line-outs with the call already made.

We tried to inject pace everywhere. Robinson was unbelievable and I’m not comparing him to England’s current players.

But one of the biggest calls Borthwick has ever made was dropping Freddie Steward and bringing in George Furbank at full-back. It didn’t work against Scotland as the team struggled.

But Furbank was brilliant against Ireland. His selection over Steward at No 15 is a positive indicator that England have finally acknowledged the need for speed.

I’m glad he’s kept his place.

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso did the right thing by reporting he had symptoms of concussion

Immanuel Feyi-Waboso did the right thing by reporting he had symptoms of concussion

The only negative ahead of France is that Immanuel Feyi-Waboso is out with concussion. I thought he showed huge promise against Ireland alongside Furbank.

He helped set-up the Marcus Smith drop goal.

While it’s a shame Feyi-Waboso won’t be involved in Lyon, I must applaud his move in reporting he had symptoms of concussion which mean he will miss the game.

His actions are a big step forward for player welfare in rugby which is an area the sport must continue to work hard on.

My three key France vs England head-to-heads

Uini Atonio vs Ellis Genge

France tighthead Atonio is just enormous! He’s so wide I’m not sure how his team-mates bind around him at the scrum. Genge is smaller but packs a real punch. He was England captain when they were hammered 53-10 by Les Bleus at Twickenham last season. I wonder if he’ll be out for revenge.

France tighthead Atonio is enormous

England's Ellis Genge packs a real punch

France tighthead Atonio (L) is enormous, while England’s Ellis Genge (R) packs a real punch

George Martin vs Emmanuel Meafou

Like Atonio, Meafou is massive! He made his debut against Wales last week and has an interesting story after being born in New Zealand and raised in Australia. Martin will win his 12th England cap in Lyon. He is tough and has a nasty streak – in a good way – to him. It’s what you need as a Test lock.

Gregory Alldritt vs Ben Earl

I’ve been critical of Earl for celebrating England winning penalties and for hitting back at the press after the Ireland win. But that’s nothing personal because I think he’s a fabulous player. He seems to have made the No 8 shirt his own and has the sort of pace at the back of the scrum England need to play quickly. Alldritt had a long time off after the World Cup but will still be a big test for Earl.