Ben Ryan: France still my dark horses at unpredictable 2019 Rugby World Cup

Les Bleus have reached six semi-finals or better in the eight previous tournaments, proving form is futile once they have entered the World Cup

TOPSHOT - France's players celebrate after winning the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool C match between France and the United States at the Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium in Fukuoka on October 2, 2019. / AFP / FRANCK FIFE
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I have said on a few media platforms that France could be the chevaux sombres of the Rugby World Cup.

After the Argentina win, that prediction just about kept its value, but after the very sluggish and penalty strewn United States victory, it is looking a less than confident vision.

I work as a consultant with the French Rugby Federation, so I’ve seen at first hand the team’s potential, and the resources and support they have at home in France.

A Junior World Cup team that have recently won back to back world titles has added to the positive vibes. Also, whatever form they come into a World Cup with, they have nearly always gone deep, reaching six semi-finals or better in the eight previous tournaments.

A draw that will avoid New Zealand or South Africa in the quarters also adds to this.

So I’m not changing my views after a fairly tepid display in their second match. Upsets have already happened and Tonga will throw everything at Les Bleus in the third game, but I see them coming through that and then going into the England game with qualification almost certainly guaranteed.

I’ve been at both ends of an England v France game, and seen how they rise up to the challenge against their age old rivals so that game could be closer than most predict.

England look ace at the moment, and serious title contenders. But with what has happened already in Japan, is anyone betting against one or two more big surprises before the final whistle is blown on November 2?