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