category: rugby news

World Cup wonders

Stuart Barnes5/9/07

Has time run out on Brian Ashton and forced him to settle for a team unusually short of creativity?

Sipping a glass of red wine in a cafe on the Champs de Elysses Sunday night I felt a pair of eyes boring into the back of my head. I turned around and there was a poster of Serge Betsen. Peering above the rim of my wine glass I noticed the entire bar was covered with pictures of France's finest.

The nation is behind their men, the big question now is whether France will be lifted by the inspiration or crushed by the expectation.

If the answer is the former, they will have to wait until October the 20th and a confrontation with the All Blacks to see if anyone can stop the home team.

The favourites remain overwhelmingly those All Blacks. But where there is question marks over Frances ability psychologically against the Men in Black, New Zealand have to prove that they can handle their own national inspirations as well as peaking at the right time. Should they achieve both these feasts, they look overwhelmingly hard to beat.

The beauty of the world cup is that there are so many question marks as we go into it. Are Ireland a team that peaked one season too early? Has time run out on Brian Ashton and forced him to settle for a team unusually short of creativity? Will Argentina benefit from their lengthy professional preparation as opposed to those five day amateur boot camps where they used the mantle of under dogs so magnificently?

The question marks themselves are about to be replaced by exclamation marks.

STUART BARNES | SKY Sports | Sunday, 2 September 2007 | Comment on this article

Stuart Barnes

Still fighting 15/10/07
Fiji accept Mission Impossible 2/10/07
No time for complacency 24/9/07
Step forward for Boks 16/9/07
Minnows impress 10/9/07
World Cup wonders 5/9/07
Stuart Barnes' dream XV 2/9/07
The gloom deepens 20/8/07
Backs to the wall 13/8/07

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