Pundits' All-Time France-England Combined XV is rugby perfection
By Rugby Onslaught

Pundits’ All-Time France-England Combined XV is rugby perfection

Former England fly-half Andy Goode and former France hooker Benjamin Kayser recently compiled an All-Time France-England Combined XV onĀ BT SportĀ and might have just produced the perfect rugby team.

Each player provided a player from their own country in each position and then debated who should take the shirt, with host Craig Doyle giving the final verdict on positions they could not agree on. Take a look at their teams:

Goode’s XV
15. Jason Robinson, 14. Anthony Watson, 13. Manu Tuilagi, 12. Will Greenwood, 10. Jonny Wilkinson, 9. Matt Dawson; 1. Jason Leonard, 2. Jamie George, 3. Phil Vickery, 4. Martin Johnson, 5. Maro Itoje, 6. Richard Hill, 7. Neil Back, 8. Lawrence Dallaglio

Kayser’s XV
15. Serge Blanco, 14. Aurelien Rougerie, 13. Philippe Sella, 12. Yannick Jauzion, 11. Christophe Dominici, 10. Frederic Michalak, 9. Antoine Dupont; 1. Christian Califano, 2. William Servat, 3. Pieter de Villiers, 4. Olivier Merle, Fabien Pelous, 6. Thierry Dusatoir, 7. Serge Betsen, 8. Imanol Harinordoquy

When deciding the combined XV, some were fairly straightforward decisions, such as Jonny Wilkinson at fly-half, where Kayser said even Frederic Michalak himself would pick Jonny Wilkinson. On the other hand, there were some tough decisions to be made, none more so than the choice between Martin Johnson and Fabien Pelous in the No4 shirt, and between Serge Blanco and Jason Robinson at fullback. Goode did decide to play the ‘World Cup’ card on a number of occasions, which is understandable.

Here is how the Johnson vs Pelous debate went down:
Goode: “Easy for me, Martin Johnson, World Cup winning captain. Absolute legend of the game, say no more.”
Kayser: “Fabien Pelous, 118 caps, he’s won four Grand Slams and five Six Nations. Legend of a bloke.”
Goode: “But how many World Cups? How many World Cups?”

Here is how the Blanco vs Robinson debate went down:
Goode: “Jason Robinson. For a man that transcended the game, from coming from league to union. Anyone that laid a finger on him on a rugby field did well. If you tackled him, you’re a hero. He could beat anyone like no one else could in the game. He’s made a lot of very good international players look silly. Jason Robsinson, absolute hero.
Kayser: “Serge Blanco. Just a killer slick, class act on the pitch. Untouchable, maybe not by the stepping ability of Jason Robinson but just was the smoothest rugby player you could ever find.”

Probably what should have happened was Johnson should have partnered Pelous in the second row and Robinson should have moved onto the wing, but that is not how this worked.

The eventual XV is a thing of beauty though, with plenty of power and grit up front, and a huge amount of pace and guile in the backs (dominated largely by the French). Despite the ‘World Cup’ card as well, France came away with eight players to England’s seven. Take a look:

The Combined XV
15. Serge Blanco
14. Aurelien Rougerie
13. Philippe Sella
12. Will Greenwood
11. Christophe Dominici
10. Jonny Wilkinson
9. Antoine Dupont
1. Jason Leonard
2. William Servat
3. Phil Vickery
4. Martin Johnson
5. Olivier Merle
6. Thierry Dusatoir
7. Neil Back
8. Lawrence Dallaglio