Rugby World Cup 2015: Pool D Preview – France under pressure
On paper Pool D looks a mere formality in terms of which sides will progress, but we all know that on the big stage anything is possible.
That being said the tussle for top-spot will be fierce as the principles look to avoid a clash with likely Pool C winner New Zealand that will befall the runners-up here.
With a demanding head coach with a point to prove, could it be 2011 runners-up France that take the Pool by the scruff of the neck?
NATIONS: FRANCE, IRELAND, ITALY, CANADA, ROMANIA
FIRST GAME: IRELAND V CANADA – SEPT 19TH
FAVS: IRELAND @ 8/15
DARK HORSES: FRANCE @ 11/8
NO HOPERS: ROMANIA @ 1000/1
Look out for: A demanding man in charge
Phillipe Saint-André, the man in charge of Les Bleus has set his stall out to what he expects from his men. And they will have to go some to please their forthright boss.
“The goal is to play a good World Cup. [It means finishing] first or second.” The 2011 runners-up have not won three straight matches since 2012 making a run of things look tough.
Look out for: This celebration…
The Irish camp have spoken of how a visit from six-time Olympic Gold Medallist Usain Bolt has inspired them to go all the way this Autumn.
Hooker Rory Best spoke of how the way the Jamaican prepares himself with plenty of self belief ahead of tournaments, and after two warm-up defeats Joe Schmidt’s side will need to keep things positive.
Look out for: Squad players stepping up
Gli Azzuri will likely need to surprise either France or Ireland to have a chance of progressing to the quarter-finals, and with the French their opening foes, the pressure will be instantly on.
Captain Sergio Perisse will be absent for that match in what could be a massive blow. The number eight role could be handed to the Fiji-born Samuela Vunisa to make his mark at Twickenham.
Look out for: Points at both ends
Many expect the Maple Leafs to be (one of) the whipping boys in Pool D, but while they may struggle to keep it tight at the back, they can contribute a try or two themselves.
In their last four World Cup appearances they have averaged 20 points a game in their ‘Points For’ column and with their third highest tryscorer of all-time DTH van der Merwe in the squad could provide some entertaining games.
Look out for: Fercu enjoying a flightless campaign
Saracen’s speedster Catalin Fercu could be the glimmer of hope for The Oak to add at least one more Rugby World Cup win to their record, especially as he doesn’t have to get on a plane.
The former Bucharest Wolves full-back pulled out of his nation’s 2007 squad when he refused to fly all the way New Zealand for the competition. Now based in England, can he lead his team to a shock?
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
Boyz in le hood…
Boyz in da Hood neggae…pic.twitter.com/KzjT8eALlY
— Mathieu Bastareaud (@BastaOfficiel) September 10, 2015
If the cap fits…
That meeting with the Ireland squad…
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.