Vernier: I have one wish which is to experience that in France

Gabrielle Vernier

By Paul Eddison

Like everyone else at Twickenham, Gabrielle Vernier took a step into the unknown in front of a world record crowd in the Grand Slam decider against England.

Now the centre has only one wish – to experience the same on home soil in France.

Where France have led the way in previous years in terms of attendances, it is now England who have set the new highest mark, with 58,498 fans pouring into the first standalone Red Roses match at Twickenham.

Vernier, who scored France’s second try in the 38-33 defeat, was blown away by the support in the stadium and has set her sights on similar in France now.

She said: “It’s amazing, I just wish it had been 58,000 French fans in the stadium. I have one wish which is to experience that in France. We play good rugby, I think we entertain on the pitch. In big matches like that against England, we deserve to have this sort of support in France. England have shown the way for women’s rugby, so now we need to follow their example and wait impatiently for this in France.”

Despite a good opening 15 minutes, France struggled in the first half, conceding five tries as England raced into a 33-0 lead. The visitors were not helped by two yellow cards, finishing the half with 13 players.

And Vernier admitted their defensive lapses cost them.

She said: “Our strength is our defence and in the first half we could not find one another. They were breaking through us everywhere. Usually, that is something that has been a foundation of our game for a number of years. When we went into the changing rooms, we said we needed to show another side to ourselves, we know our strengths.”

France did come out with a renewed purpose in the second half, scoring five second-half tries as they got back to within five points.

The last of those came with the final play of the game, France leaving themselves just too much to do for a remarkable comeback.

She said: “It’s frustrating. We were part of an incredible event for women’s rugby and we are delighted about that but it’s frustrating to have not performed in that first half.

“We gave it everything in the second half and I think we caused them to worry at the end. But we needed another five to ten minutes to try to achieve something incredible. But it’s been a while since we enjoyed ourselves that much.”

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