France will win their maiden World Cup crown on home soil when the tournament is next hosted on Europe’s mainland in 2023.

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That’s the verdict from former World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward, who made the claim while writing in his latest column for the Daily Mail.

In it, he suggests that France have become the benchmark for his former England side to aspire to if they are to go one better than their runners-up finish at last year’s showpiece event in Japan.

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“All my coaching life, and now working in the media, I have viewed the southern hemisphere giants as the test benchmark. Beat them regularly, especially away from Twickenham, and you will eventually be the world’s best,” Woodward wrote.

“As we look forward to the final weekend of the much-delayed 2020 Six Nations, however, I feel it is France who England need to measure themselves against.

“Three years out from the World Cup and France, on home soil, are my tip to win it. From this point, England need to match them in all departments.”

Both teams are in a three-horse race, along with Ireland, to claim the Six Nations title this weekend.

The competition resumed lat weekend after a seven-month delay due to COVID-19, with the Irish pinching a bonus point win over Italy to lift them to the top of the table, one point clear of England and France.

While England face Italy in match that the former side are heavily expected to win, this weekend’s final round concludes with what may be the championship-defining game between France and Ireland in Paris.

Given how Les Bleus performed in their 38-21 warm-up victory over Wales on Saturday, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Fabien Galthie’s side clinch their first title since 2010.

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Even if they don’t, Woodward believes there is plenty to like about the current wave of French talent.

“The French aren’t the finished article but I see an exceptional generation of brilliant players – forwards and backs – maturing together,” the ex-British and Irish Lions coach said.

“Once Fabian Galthie and [assistant coach] Shaun Edwards sort out a few loose cannons up front and get on top of the discipline issue they are going to be formidable.

“I see potentially the world’s best halfback pairing in Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, a fantastic centre pairing of Virimi Vakatawa and Gael Fickou, try-scorers like Teddy Thomas and magic players like Thomas Ramos.

“In the forwards, led by the amazing Camille Chat, they are big, athletic and nasty.

“There are still creases to iron out but France are only going one way, as we saw in their convincing win over Wales.”

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