Forget the All Blacks and Springboks, Sir Clive Woodward made an early prediction and declared France as favorites to win the next Rugby World Cup.
South Africa won the last tournament in Japan to join New Zealand as a three-time winner, but Woodward, who guided England to their only title in 2003, sees enough potential in a young French side to make it the team to beat.
It helps, he notes, that France will host the next World Cup in 2023, but his predictions go way beyond.
“All my life as a coach, and now working in the media, I have regarded the giants of the southern hemisphere as the benchmark of the test. Beat them regularly, especially away from Twickenham, and you’ll ultimately be the best in the world, ”Woodward wrote in his last column for the Daily mail.
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“As we look forward to the very late 2020 Six Nations final weekend, I think it’s France that England have to face off against.
“Three years before the World Cup and France, at home, this is my advice to win it. From there, England must match them in all departments. “
France have just beaten Wales 38-21 in Paris and will face Ireland this weekend with a Six Nations title potentially at stake with England, the other contenders, against Italy, wooden spoon . France will play the final match and know what is required in Paris.
Woodward believes that France’s potential has enough time to develop and he appreciates their strengths in several key areas.
“The French are not the finished article, but I see an exceptional generation of brilliant players – front and back – maturing together,” Woodward wrote in the Daily mail.
“Once Fabian Galthie and Shaun Edwards get a few loose cannons up front and get a handle on the discipline issue, they’ll be great.
“I potentially see the best pair of backs in the world with Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, a fantastic center pair from Virimi Vakatawa and Gael Fickou, test scorers like Teddy Thomas and magical players like Thomas Ramos.
“In the attackers, led by the incredible Camille Chat, they are big, athletic and nasty.
“There are still some folds to be ironed out, but France is only going one way, as we saw in their convincing win over Wales.
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