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These Dear Enemies

Fri Feb 22, 8-9pm, ESPN Classic

English graft. French artistry. English stoicism. French passion. English sense of fair play. French penchant for cheating. No stereotype goes unchecked in this 2007 French-made documentary about the rivalry between our two rugby-playing nations. But it’s impossible to take umbrage, such is the mutual respect and good humour of the participants (including a cavalcade of former pros), while the abundant archive footage is deployed even-handedly.

As a bonus, there’s a brief history of rugby and some studious analysis of the two countries’ playing styles and the effects of professionalism on both. A perfect appetiser for tomorrow’s Six Nations clash at 5pm on BBC1 which, given the current tribulations of the French, should be a tasty affair.

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