France: the new Six Nations favourites?

Thierry DusautoirEngland remain the favourites for the 2011 RBS 6 Nations, but what we saw at the Stade de France on Saturday might suggest the bookies have got it wrong.

Scotland’s pack was supposed to be their main strength, and they’d picked a set of forwards to take on the French up front, with the aim of limiting the supply of ball to Francois Trinh-Duc and his potent backline.

As we know, it didn’t really work out like that. France’s power in the scrum was frightening, and they overcame a significant weight deficit to utterly dominate the Scottish pack. Their back row is often celebrated, but it was the turn of Thomas Domingo and the front five to claim the plaudits and soak up the new-found adoration amongst the French rugby public.

Of further concern is the evidence this week that Marc Lievremont has settled on a first-choice side – he only made one enforced change to the side that beat Scotland, and it seems that these days, you do know which French side will turn up. Moreover, a glance down the teamsheet and there is class in every position – including the bench – and it’s not easy to identify weaknesses as you can with other nations.

Lievremont’s side now travel to Ireland to face a team that many described as having the poorest front five in the competition, and it could get ugly in the scrum. A victory for the French is by no means guaranteed at Lansdowne Road, but it would be an enormous turnaround for Ireland to get a result after their efforts in Italy.

Then England are next up at Twickenham, and some have declared this fixture as the championship decider. It probably is if France win it, but not necessarily if England do, based on the fixtures that will remain for each side.

Nevertheless, the power of France’s pack could mean that England start as underdogs at Twickenham, given their record against teams that give them a hard time up front – recent successes have come against sides with weaker forwards, and even then they didn’t exert the same sort of pressure as France did against Scotland.

You can bet on France to win the tournament at 7/4, whilst England are favourites at 5/4, but should it be the other way around? Will the odds change if France beat Ireland this weekend?

Let us know your thoughts, and we’ll use some of the comments in The Rugby Paper this week.

8 thoughts on “France: the new Six Nations favourites?

  1. personally i think we should pray for divine intervention when we play them in dublin at the weekend

  2. I still fancy England to defeat France with home advantage. France are never confident coming to Twickenham and I think the new found confidence in the England camp will just carry them to victory over Les Bleus. At least I thoroughly hope it will

  3. France’s last 6 games:

    SA 42-17 France
    Arg 41-13 France
    France 34-12 Fiji
    France 15-9 Arg
    France 16-59 Australia
    France 34-21 Scotland

    I’d say we still have no idea which French team is going to show up. It looks a strong side but so did England and France at the Football World Cup. They still have a spectacular consistency problem.

  4. That Australia game was a freak occurrence, particularly given the fact that most of the points were shipped in the second half when France imploded.

    I thought their performance against Scotland was hugely impressive, and it looked as though they had another couple of gears unused. Hopefully Ireland will put up a decent fight, but I fear for their chances after last week’s game, and if France win well, they will arrive at Twickenham with away form and a settled team.

    England remain overhyped despite the wake-up call against South Africa, and the French could give them another lesson.

  5. It all depends which France turns up…..they can be brilliant and they can be rubbish. And they don’t like playing at Twickers!

  6. I would point out that france conceded 3 tries against Scotland at home. As much as the Scots have improved their try scoring record is abysmal. I thought the French were impressive but through the legs passes are very risky and that could of equally led to a interception. I still fancy England at twick.

  7. Agree that England are overhyped as well – they still haven’t proved they can string a load of performances together. But beyond the Australia game France also shipped 40 poits against the same Argentina side who lost twice to Scotland.

    They look strong again in this championship and I know it’s a little irrelevant in the context of the Six Nations but am going to reserve judgement on France until they make any sort of consistent impact on the Tri-Nations teams.

  8. Amusingly the Scottish rugby correspondent in the Times wrote at the weekend about Scotland after theiur derfeat to France:

    ‘a team who delivered everything bar the killer blow.’
    and, ‘What Saturday showed is that they are still learning how to win when they are the superior side.’

    Not sure which game he was watching.

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