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France must be at 300 per cent to win 2019 World Cup - Michalak

By Tom Webber
France celebrate during their match against Wales at the Six Nations

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Frederic Michalak hopes France are at “300 per cent” at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in order to stand a chance of winning.

Les Bleus’ last World Cup campaign came to an emphatic end courtesy of a 62-13 drubbing at the hands of eventual champions New Zealand in Cardiff.

That marked the end of Philippe Saint-Andre’s reign, with Guy Noves taking over as head coach in an attempt to breathe new life into the team with a squad overhaul.

France finished fifth at the 2016 Six Nations and third a year later, and former international fly-half Michalak believes a huge effort will be needed to challenge for the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan.

“France has nothing to be ashamed of regarding the last Six Nations against England at Twickenham,” HSBC ambassador Michalak told Omnisport of the 19-16 loss on February 4.

“We won against Argentina last year, too. France is getting better and better. I hope they will be at 300 per cent at the World Cup in order to win.”

England and Argentina will be France’s major rivals in Pool C at the 2019 World Cup, with the top qualifier from the Americas and second from Oceania completing the set.

It has been labelled the ‘group of death’, but Michalak only sees positives in a difficult draw.

He said: “It’s a great challenge because you play huge teams straight away.

“It makes me think about the 2003 World Cup. The English played Australia. They had many great opponents in their pool. They ended up champions of the world. It’s a good thing to be playing great teams straight away in the competition.”

The International Olympic Committee visited Paris on Tuesday ahead of a decision on the host city for the 2024 Olympic Games.

The 2016 Games in Rio included the inaugural rugby sevens contests, and Michalak believes that has made a massive impact on the awareness of the HSBC Sevens World Series and its development.

“Since the Olympics in Rio, sevens has changed. Fiji totally dominated. Since then, the World Series are getting even bigger in the world. It is good for rugby,” said Michalak.

“Because of the Olympics there is a huge amount of fans. I can’t tell the exact numbers but it was the Olympic discipline they most followed since the beginning.

“It was a huge success during the Olympics. We can see the great success of these World Series. It’s amazing to watch.”



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