Eddie Jones says ‘red-hot favourites’ France have no excuses in the Six Nations

Eddie Jones

England head coach Eddie Jones has said that France have no excuses not to do well in the upcoming Guinness Six Nations.

France are the bookies’ favourites to win the Six Nations this year, off the back of their impressive performances in November, in which they claimed a 40-25 victory against the All Blacks.

Les Bleus have been made to deal with some disruption in the lead up to the championship, as 11 players were forced to pull out of their training camp due to either injury or Covid-19, with captain Antoine Dupont having been one of the squad members to test positive.

Dupont is expected to be back in time to captain France in their Six Nations opener against Italy and Jones reminded the World Rugby player of the year that he is expected to lead his country to a championship victory.

‘They’re red-hot favourites, they’re expected to win.’

“He’s a very good player and it’s a very big call to make him captain because the nine has got a lot on their plate. But obviously Fabien [Galthie] thinks he can handle that and it’s certainly not for me to tell him what to do,” Jones said.

“They’re sitting at the top of the tree in the Six Nations. They’re red-hot favourites, they’re expected to win. If they don’t win the French rugby public is going to be disappointed. They’ve shown what great depth there is in French rugby.

“On the development tour to Australia the results were amazing. Then they’ve got the luxury of having 43 players in camp.

“The grand master of French rugby, Bernarde Laporte, has done a great job in getting the clubs to work with the French union, so they don’t have any excuses. All of that comes with a price and I’m sure Antoine’s going to be able to handle it.”

Eddie Jones expects other players to stand up in Owen Farrell’s absence.

It was confirmed today that England captain Owen Farrell will be unavailable for the entirety of this year’s Six Nations, as he requires surgery on an ankle injury, which will sideline him for eight to 10 weeks.

Farrell also missed England’s games against Tonga and South Africa in the Autumn Nations Cup, with Courtney Lawes captaining the side in his absence, but Lawes has also been sidelined, due to a head injury.

Although Jones hasn’t made a decision on who will captain England in their Six Nations opener against Scotland yet, he is confident that there are enough leaders in the English squad to make up for Farrell’s absence.

“Look, we’re disappointed that Owen’s not with us but it gives us an opportunity to build some leadership density and we’ve got young guys like Tom [Curry] sitting here with me, Luke Cowan-Dickie and a number of other people who are all involved in driving the team forward,” Jones explained.

“Maro, for instance, last night did a great job in the pub driving the team communication. So we’ve got a grid of people who are working towards building the team.

“I know for you guys the captaincy is the most important thing, and it is an important position, but we’re more concerned about building the leadership density of the team to equip ourselves to play the best rugby, particularly when the game gets really hard.

“Ultimately, we’d like to be a team where the team runs itself. That they understand the responsibility and I think we’re building nicely.

“We’ve got four campaigns until the World Cup and by the time we get to the World Cup we want to be that team where the players have the responsibility to drive the team and run the team and it’s their team.”

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