Clive Woodward predicts that all four World Cup semi-finalists will be Six Nations teams, and expects France to triumph in a close contest with defending champs, South Africa.
Writing for the UK’s Daily Mail, Woodward notes that for the first time in tournament history, northern hemisphere sides have topped all the pools, setting up intriguing quarter-finals.
The former England coach believes that the last-eight matchups, particularly New Zealand versus Ireland and South Africa versus France, would have been fitting finals due to the high level of competition.
He emphasises that top-ranked Ireland is playing on a different level compared to their rivals and expects them to beat the All Blacks. Similarly, he predicts a victory for Wales over Argentina and England over Fiji, provided England improves its defensive game.
In the showdown between the Boks and France, Woodward anticipates a thrilling battle but leans towards Les Bleus as they are the hosts.
“I think France will win because there is a feeling that, as hosts, they simply have to,” he writes. “I hope they do because it would be great if the northern hemisphere was leading the way.
“I think South Africa are a better team than when they won the last World Cup. They have an amazing side but face a big call at No 10.
“In big World Cup knockout games, the sort of creativity [Manie Libbok] brings can make a big difference, but it still might not be enough to down France.”
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