England head coach Eddie Jones has installed France as the “red-hot favourites” to win the Six Nations ahead of the tournament kickoff next weekend.
France have gone from strength to strength under Fabian Galthie, building a young and exciting squad for next year’s World Cup on home soil.
Les Bleus notably tore the All Blacks to shreds in Paris last November in what was their first win over New Zealand since 2009.
2021 World Rugby Player of the Year Antoine Dupont was appointed as France’s captain for the upcoming Six Nations, but has struggled with knee and Covid-19 issues ahead of the tournament.
“Dupont is a very good player and it’s a big call to make him captain because the nines have got a lot on their plate,” said Jones during the official Six Nations launch press conference.
“But obviously head coach Fabian Galthie thinks he can handle that and it’s certainly not for me to tell him what to do. As you know, being a Frenchman, you are sitting at the top of the tree in the Six Nations, you are red-hot favourites.
“You are expected to win. If you don’t win the French rugby public’s going to be disappointed. You have shown what great depth you have got in French rugby in last year’s development tour to Australia when the results were amazing.
“And then you have got the luxury of having 43 players in camp, so your grandmaster of French rugby, Bernard Laporte [French Rugby Federation president] has done a great job in getting the clubs to work with the French union, so you don’t have any excuses. All of that comes with a price and I’m sure Antoine is going to be able to handle it.”
England will take on France in the fifth round of the Six Nations in Paris on 19 March.
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