- Respected coach Stuart Lancaster believes forecasting this year’s Rugby World Cup champion in France is a challenge.
- The ex-England guide remarks that the Boks stand as a formidable team.
- However, he emphasized that Scotland, South Africa’s competitor in Pool B, presents a significant challenge.
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As the pulse of the Rugby World Cup starts racing in France, Stuart Lancaster, the former England coach, will be keenly observing. An astonishing 11 players from his current team, Racing 92, might take to the field.
Discussing the tournament’s dynamics, he conveyed to AFP, “The possibilities are endless,” further emphasizing how “France’s enthusiasm is set to electrify the event.”
Lancaster’s journey, marked by an early stint as a Scotland youth international, saw him recently shift to the club in Paris’s outskirts after a notable seven-year tenure at Leinster in Ireland.
With Racing preparing to begin their run, minus 11 of their World Cup stars, against Bordeaux-Begles this Saturday, it’s just a trilogy of Top 14 clashes before the league takes a hiatus till October 29.
Countries like France, Wales, England, South Africa, Fiji, and Georgia are boasting Racing athletes in their lineup. Among them are a few of Racing’s sensational new additions, not forgetting South Africa’s World Cup 2019 victor, Siya Kolisi, who’s gearing up post-injury.
Being pragmatic, Lancaster acknowledges potential setbacks during the contest. Referring to France’s Romain Ntamack’s recent knee setback, he points out that, “He won’t be the last.”
Lancaster underscores the importance of having a robust backup, mentioning, “A deep bench, rich in talent, could be the deciding factor as the finale nears.”
Being let go post the 2015 England team’s pool stage exit, Lancaster remains circumspect about favoring any team. Though he initiated with Scotland, citing, “They’re in top form now.”
“I’ve trained several Irish players, and they, along with host France, look formidable from the northern hemisphere,” he adds.
Looking southward, Lancaster mentions, “The All Blacks are showcasing growing strengths in the Rugby Championship. South Africa is a powerhouse, while Australia’s recent win over New Zealand was a masterclass.”
He, however, reflects on rugby’s unpredictability, saying, “A single game can pivot in so many unexpected directions, from referee decisions, unanticipated card penalties to mere luck.”
Highlighting the emerging teams, he shares, “Tier two nations could steer the outcomes. They might not clinch the title, but with revised eligibility norms, nations like Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji seem promising.”
Amidst the World Cup’s frenzy, Lancaster is acclimating to France – from mastering the language and settling into a new home to “navigating the right side of the road.” Embracing the change, he admits, “It’s enriching and challenging in equal measure.”