sport news Sir Clive Woodward's key pointers to the Japanese jamboree

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Sir Clive Woodward's key pointers to the Japanese jamboree: France are the dark horses and Owen Farrell could win player of the tournament The French have a brilliant record at World Cups and have reached three finals  They thrive in a knockout tournament and love it when they're written off  Teams have no excuses with falling foul of the referees as players are informed  

By Sir Clive Woodward for the Daily Mail

Published: 21:13 BST, 20 September 2019 | Updated: 21:13 BST, 20 September 2019


With Japan opening their home World Cup with a win, momentum is already gathering. 

On Saturday the tournament will truly gain pace with France taking on Argentina and South Africa facing New Zealand. 

Here, Sir Clive Woodward makes his predictions and answers key questions about the competition as a whole. 

Who are your World Cup dark horses? 

The team I always love in World Cups is France. They have an incredible record: finalists three times and they should have won it in 2011 when they lost to New Zealand. France are the one team I’d love to coach because, quite simply, they have great players. 

And they thrive in this knockout-type atmosphere, where people write them off. No one is talking about France but you look at their team and it’s a good side. They are my team to watch out for.

Romain Ntamack and France could be a team to keep an eye on as dark horses

Romain Ntamack and France could be a team to keep an eye on as dark horses

Is there a team that might disappoint?

The New Zealand team isn’t quite what it used to be and the opening game against South Africa is just massive. I’ll never say a thing against New Zealand rugby: they have an amazing track record. 

But this team isn’t quite as scary as the All Blacks of four years ago. I think they will make the final even if they lose to South Africa.

Who will be player of the tournament?

You hope there is going to be a surprise but I always believe the No 10 is key in any team. I’m a massive Owen Farrell fan, whether he plays 10 or 12. I think he’ll play 12, which I’d support, as George Ford has really come into his own. If Farrell has a great World Cup, England can win it. 

Then you have Handre Pollard for South Africa and Beauden Barrett for New Zealand, whether he

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