Austin Healey has predicted that France will win both this year’s Six Nations and the 2023 Rugby World Cup, while praising a return to attacking play in rugby.
France looked likely to win the Six Nations in both 2020 and 2021 at one stage, but losses in round four of the championship in both years halted their title charges, as England and Wales got their hands on the trophy instead.
Les Bleus aren’t yet the finished article, but their thrilling 40-25 victory against the All Blacks in November is proof that they are capable of great things, while a favourable fixture list with home games against Ireland and England awaits them in this year’s Six Nations.
Former England international Healey was writing in his column for The Telegraph and argued that France have epitomised the return to attacking rugby at international level since the British and Irish Lions tour and backed them for major success.
Austin Healey on France’s chances of silverware.
“The belligerent bashing of each other has finally fallen foul to the running rugby we want to see.Harlequins were the team that set the pace. Rather than trying to not lose a game, go out to try and win it,” Healey wrote.
“It doesn’t matter if we concede three tries, because we’ll score five or six. And because of that mindset, everybody young and old wants to go and watch the game.
“That attacking approach domestically is catching on internationally too. France are leading the charge at test level and I think they will win the Six Nations and most likely the Rugby World Cup in 2023 as well.”
— Autumn Nations Series (@autumnnations) November 20, 2021
Plenty of reasons for Les Bleus to be confident.
Although France have yet to win any silverware with their current crop of players, there are indications that this young side is beginning to reach its potential.
The French have the world’s best player in Antoine Dupont, and at the age of 25, the small but powerful scrum-half will likely be one of the best rugby players on the planet for years to come.
France’s defence has been much improved since the appointment of Shane Edwards, while their attacking play rivals the French flair of past legends of the game, which was epitomised in the reckless of abandon of Romain Ntamack’s break from behind his own try line against New Zealand.
Their strength in depth arguably surpasses that of any other nation’s, based on the second string French side that almost beat a full-strength England outfit in the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup final, while a similarly weakened team came very close to claiming a test series win against the Wallabies on Australian soil.