Opinion

French gunning for Grand Slam

What an amazing weekend of rugby we have in store.

In Europe, the French are gunning for their first Grand Slam in more than a decade; and in Super Rugby, Australian heavyweights, the Reds and the Brumbies face up in Canberra.

But first to the Six Nations and the mouth-watering clash in Paris between Fabien Galthie’s French team and the team Eddie Jones calls “New England”.

There is no doubt that the English team would love to spoil the party in Paris and deny Les Bleus a Grand Slam.

I can’t see that happening.

In fact, I think the French team will completely outplay Eddie Jones’ team and relegate them to fifth in the Championship two years in a row.

France is so well balanced.

They have a monster forward pack, creative halfbacks and incredible outside backs.

Remember this French team recently put 40 points on the All Blacks and they have been in complete control of all their matches in this season’s Championship.

The last time France won a Grand Slam was in 2010 and that team went on to play in the 2011 World Cup Final in New Zealand.

I thought they deserved to win the 2011 World Cup and so did many others.

Make no mistake, this French team are my favourites to win the Grand Slam and go on to win the World Cup, in France, next year.

In the lead up to “Les Crunch”, in Paris, this weekend, Eddie Jones has been predictable in his press comments.

He has tried to pile the pressure on the French team by saying things like “The Grand Slam will be missing with their heads.”

Eddie Jones has also thrown fighting words around, publicly calling on his team to “Win the fight at the ruck.”

Much of the English press has already turned on Eddie Jones.

Both Stuart Barnes and Stephen Jones of “The Times” are calling for his head.

For England to run fifth in the Championship, two years in a row, is not acceptable.

It means England are ranked behind France, Ireland, Wales and Scotland and are only one place ahead of Italy.

On the domestic front, there have been some interesting games in Super Rugby Pacific.

It is brilliant to see the Fijian Drua team improve with every performance.

Last week they gave the very impressive Reds team a big run for their money.

The Fijian people seem to have amazing faith and belief.

Remember the last time the NEC was held in Australia, the Fijian team won that competition.

I’m tipping them to take some big scalps as this season unfolds.

This weekend’s Grand Final replay between the Reds and the Brumbies should be a belter.

In recent times, whenever these teams play, the match ends up being an epic battle decided at the death.

Thank heavens for this wonderful rivalry between Brad Thorn’s Queensland team and the Brumbies coached by Dan McKellar and Laurie Fisher.

I can’t tip it against the Reds because James O’Connor is a master at controlling the back end of games, but the Brumbies are playing at home and that is significant.

Good luck to the players.

This fixture is clearly a Wallaby trial and the players will be keen to show Wallaby coach Dave Rennie why they should be picked for his team.

One final comment about the administration of our game.

We need really good people sitting on boards making the important decisions.

I don’t care if they are men or women.

Just get the people available on the board.

Surely if board members are competent, and I mean rugby knowledgeable, with business acumen, we won’t be selling our souls to private equity groups.

Hamish McLennan must avoid the easy option and resist the temptation to start selling off our game.

The only real asset we have, apart from players, are our broadcast rights.

At first, we will sell off a small piece and then we will sell off more and then it won’t be long before the private equity firms have a controlling interest.

Remember, CVC put about $1 billion into Formula 1 motor racing and took out about $8 billion.

The best way to grow our game is to do the hard yards and forget about the quick fix or the sugar hits.

To be honest, if Rugby Australia can’t run a self-sustaining game, they don’t deserve to exist.

If we think we can live beyond our means and someone else will pick up the tab, we are deluded.

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