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Five Reasons Why France Can Win the 2020 Six Nations

| December 21, 2019 5:43 am PDT
Five Reasons Why France Can Win the 2020 Six Nations

It may not be crazy to bet on France to win the 2020 Six Nations. In truth, I think France has a much better chance of winning their first title since 2010 than the oddsmakers seem to think.

Now, I’m not saying that you will be rushing to the top rugby betting sites to whack thousands on the French to win a Grand Slam. But I am very confident that we might see the best version of France in 2020 that we have seen in a long time. 

As of late, things have been changing for the better for Les Bleus. Their performances at the 2019 Rugby World Cup were encouraging. They have a new boss in former captain Fabien Galthie. Plus, they have also managed to nab former Wales defense coach Shaun Edwards. 

Add the best Under-20 team on the planet to the mix, and it suddenly feels good to be a French rugby fan again. But rather than waiting for success in the distant future, I believe this team is going to surprise everyone in 2020.

Did you know that France’s odds of winning the Six Nations in 2020 are currently +1000 with BetOnline? Sit back, strap in, and allow me to explain to you why they could be well worth a shot.

A New Era Under Galthie

In my opinion, no nation has failed to adapt as poorly to the professional era as France.

Once the poster boys of pure flair and excitement, the French would suffer from an incredible crisis of confidence that would eventually lead to their downfall. Not that this was immediately apparent, I would add.

The French won four from the ten Six Nations titles up for grabs in the 2000s. They reached the semifinals of the 2003 and 2007 Rugby World Cups. They would go one better in getting to the 2011 World Cup final in New Zealand, coming within a score of winning the thing. 

But this was to be their last decent showing in world rugby. 

What followed in the 2010s has been painful to watch at times, as numerous coaches have all failed to get the team firing. The only championship they won in this decade was in 2010.

Where France was once on the map as the most creative and stylish team in the Northern Hemisphere, they soon became known for nothing but excessive brawn and power. A complete departure from what once made them so good. 

Dwindling attendances and a loss of appetite for international rugby have been sad by-products of poor handling and a lack of consistency.

Previous coaches like Marc Lievremont, Guy Noves, and Jacque Brunel have just made things worse. Where once this country could strike fear into the hearts of New Zealand’s players, coaches, and management, they would eventually become whipping boys.

Something had to give. 

With Fabien Galthie on board, there is a real sense of urgency to right the wrongs of the past decade and beyond. This is a new era for France, and one that can be the catalyst for a rebirth of sorts. 

If French rugby was once a majestic palace that had fallen into a state of ugly disrepair, this new regime promises to knock it all down and start again. Rather than looking to paint over the cracks and add a couple of new carpets, the idea is to build something fit for purpose in the modern game.

It all starts in 2020.

The Shaun Edwards Factor

Say what you like about French rugby being synonymous with poor decisions, but what an incredible defense coach they have managed to acquire in Shaun Edwards.

The Englishman transformed Wales’ defense when he was drafted under Warren Gatland in 2007. A sizeable portion of the success that the Welsh enjoyed in the Gatland era was down to his work.

A fearsome former rugby league international, it is incredible to think that Edwards was let go by his former employers. The Englishman admitted that there was interest from the RFU, too, but there was no concrete offer on the table.

France, on the other hand, quickly provided a four-and-a-half-year deal for Edwards to sign, and he quickly obliged. Will this be Wales’ and England’s loss, and France’s gain? 

I think it will. 

Other than adding much-needed speed and nous to the French defense, he will also provide an edge that has been missing from the team for some time. Les Bleus have been atrocious in defense in recent times, shipping a ridiculous number of points, so Edwards will have his work cut out.

Some have suggested that this appointment could either work out incredibly well or go horribly wrong, but I think the new change in attitude in the French camp is consistent with what Edwards wants to achieve. 

The most decorated player in rugby league history, Edwards is a serial winner. As a coach, he has won four Six Nations championships, including three Grand Slams, with Wales. He won two Heineken Cups, four Premierships, and a European Challenge Cup with Wasps. 

Edwards was also the defense coach for the British and Irish Lions in 2009. 

So, anyone questioning this guy’s attitude should basically be handed a copy of his resume and asked if they want to expand on those questions. 

If the French players cannot trust in a guy like Edwards, then they don’t deserve to win another game. Sure, he might have an English accent and a forcible nature, but surely the French won’t let any old rivalries get in the way of things. 

Edwards will be a success in France, and we will see a huge change in the team when they host England in their first game of the championship in Paris on February 2.

How the Fixtures Fall in Their Favor

So, as I mentioned above, France will get their Six Nations 2020 campaign off with a huge game against England in Paris. 

This was, traditionally, the biggest game of the old Five Nations championship. However, with the decline of England in the mid-2000s to mid-2010s, the fixture lost its importance somewhat. 

With England looking like the strongest nation in the tournament, a French revival would bring things back to when the supporters of both nations savored nothing more than getting one over on their arch-rivals. 

A win for France on February 2 would certainly give us reason to believe that we are close to seeing that happen.

Despite traveling to Paris, England will more than likely be the favorites to win this game. They are, after all, the favorites to win the championship. Eddie Jones’ men will not be taking the French for granted, however.

France has won three of their last ten games against England in the Six Nations, with the English winning the other seven.

France was thumped 44-8 in Twickenham last year but beat the English 22-16 in Paris in 2018’s championship.

Before that, you have to go all the way back to 2014 for a French victory over England in the Six Nations. Les Bleus won 26-24 on the day at the Stade de France.

So, to say that this will be a huge test for France will be an understatement. But if you think they will not be up for this one, think again. A win against England would set them up very nicely for the rest of the tournament. 

Last year, the French had the beating of the eventual Grand Slam winners, Wales, but capitulated and threw the game away in the second half, having led 16-0 at the break. And in 2018, Johnny Sexton’s incredible last-gasp drop goal broke French hearts on the way to an Irish Grand Slam. 

France are no pushovers at home, and I think they can beat England. Then, they will host Italy in the second round of fixtures, before traveling to Wales in Round 3 with revenge on their minds. 

In Round 4, France will face Scotland at Murrayfield in a game that they will be confident of winning. If they have four wins under their belts at this time, they could set themselves up with a gargantuan final weekend in Paris against Ireland. 

Once again, they will have revenge on their minds for that Sexton drop goal.

Real Signs of Improvement

Well, you would have to admit that this French team showed some very encouraging signs of improvement at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

Now, don’t get me wrong — the performances against Tonga and the USA were far from stellar. But the win over Argentina in the first game of the pool stages was eye-catching. In that match, France played some excellent rugby, but most importantly, they managed to see the game out. 

However, their most impressive performance of the tournament saw their first and only loss, by 20-19, to Wales in the quarters. 

France had Sebastien Vahaamahina sent off for an absolutely logic-defying elbow on Aaron Wainwright. Playing with 14 men for 32 minutes, the French were still the better team and looked as though they were ready to dump the Welsh out. 

However, it was the French who were sent packing by a late Ross Moriarty try that saved the blushes of Warren Gatland and Wales. 

That was the last we have seen of France, but they can certainly take a lot from that performance ahead of 2020. 

Of course, it is not just the senior team that has been showing encouraging signs. 

France won the 2019 World Rugby Under 20 Championships in Argentina this year. Beating Australia in the final, the French youngsters made it two championships in two years, despite having never won the tournament before. 

France’s U20 team will be feeding players into the senior setup over the next few years. But in 2020, it is foreseeable that the likes of Jordan Joseph — the 2018 World Rugby Junior Player of the Year — Romain Ntamack, Demba Bamba, and Cameron Woki can all contribute majorly to France’s success.

The way things are going, it looks as though the French could be on the brink of a golden generation of players. When you add Galthie, Edwards, and a solid coaching setup into the mix, things don’t good look great for other nations.

We will see some major improvements from this French team in 2020, in my opinion, and I don’t think it is beyond the realm of possibility to see a Six Nations triumph for Les Bleus in 2020.

Capitalizing on a Strange Six Nations?

The 2020 Six Nations is going to be a little strange, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, France, Ireland, Italy, and Wales will all start the tournament with new head coaches. Joining Galthie in their maiden campaigns as head coach will be Ireland’s Andy Farrell, Italy’s Franco Smith, and Wales’ Wayne Pivac.

Now, history does tell us that new coaches can do very well in their first Six Nations championships. For example, the likes of Warren Gatland, Declan Kidney, Joe Schmidt, and Eddie Jones all won the title in their first championships. Schmidt is the only one of the above who didn’t win the Grand Slam.

Now, this is a double-edged sword this year, because the one thing many of these coaches profited from was shaking up the establishment. In other words, their tactics and strategies were not apparent to the coaches that had been established in their positions.

So, in some ways, Galthie will have the element of surprise on his side. But on the flipside, so will Farrell, Smith, and Pivac. I can’t remember the last time things have been so up in the air in the Six Nations.

Another odd thing about this tournament is how Saracens’ points deduction will affect England’s chances.

The reigning English and European club championships were slapped with a major fine and a 35-point deduction that could lead to them refusing to allow many of their stars to feature for England this year. If that is the case, everyone else will capitalize on the absence of Owen Farrell, Billy Vunipola, Maro Itoje, and Elliot Daly. 

It’s something to think about, at least. I mean, England is the favorite, but expect everyone else’s odds to get much shorter if Saracens keep their players in London to avoid relegation.

Either way, France will certainly be ready when they visit on February 2. 

Closing Words

If you are betting on France to win the 2020 Six Nations, I would suggest that you have a strong chance of seeing Les Bleus go all the way. 

The simple fact of the matter is that this team is unfancied by most. Sure, everyone is aware of the potential that this team has, but I still think they are being underrated by many. 

The odds on France to win the Six Nations in 2020 are still pretty high. If I have convinced you that they are worth a shot, get on them, as they might not be around for much longer. 

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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