‘Consistently inconsistent’ is the perfect term to describe France who could just as easily win the World Cup, as they could drop out during the group stages. Here are five reasons why they might just be able to claim the title though…
1.The monster pack
Over the years the French have moved from a flair game to one much more reliant on powerful ball carriers trucking it up the pitch. An extension of this has been the increasing size and power of the pack which now includes the monstrous 150kg Uini Atonio. We saw how dominant the scrum can be against England the other weekend, and if they can dominate other teams in the same way it gives them one hell of a platform to build a World Cup challenge off.
2.Finding their groove
Something else that was apparent during France’s game with England that hadn’t been previously, was the style of play. For the first time under St Andre’s reign, France played a brand of rugby that could almost be described as watchable. They made a huge number of offloads, forcing England to make a ridiculous number of tackles early on. If they can maintain this flair, it could help them finally make the most of players like Wesley Fofana who can be deadly.
The current French side has a spine of hugely experienced players who have played in previous World Cups and know what it’s like to get to the final. The likes of Nicolas Mas, Thierry Dusautoir and Morgan Parra bring a wealth of experience which can be invaluable during World Cup campaigns. This ties in nicely with the exciting young players coming through who will benefit from playing alongside such quality.
4.Big game mentality
Despite being totally lacklustre during the last few Six Nations, it was in the final game of the 2015 tournament when they really stepped things up as England battled to try and achieve a winning scoreline to claim the title. It seemed the magnitude of the occasion spurred Les Bleus into action as they produced one of their performances of the last few years to stop Stuart Lancaster’s men claiming the title.
5.They’ve done it before
Ok, they’ve not won it before, but remember how in 2011, despite being just about the worst French team in recent memory Marc Lieveremont’s men limped their way to the final where they only narrowly lost out to the All Blacks. What 2011 went to prove was that no matter how bad France may seem, you truly write them off at your own peril as they have a nasty habit of causing major upsets.