Sir Clive puts on his Northern Hemisphere hat

Henry

Sir Clive Woodward is not a man who turns his rugby heart into a murder pit and the former England knitter predicts that the Northern Hemisphere teams will be too strong for their Southern Hemisphere opponents in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup tournament in France.

“European teams dominated the group stage and I believe that they will also make a clean sweep in the quarter-finals. Here comes the power from the North!” he said in his Daily Mail– column written.

Woodward, who lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy with Martin Johnson’s England side in 2003, believes Wales, Ireland, England and France will win their play-off games.

However, he thinks that the Springboks’ duel with France at the Stade de France could be a nail-biting story.

“France is going to win, because one feels that this is something that they, as the host country, just have to do. At the same time, I’m also keeping my fingers crossed for them because it would be great if the Northern Hemisphere paves the way forward in the tournament.”

According to Woodward, the Boks are formidable opponents, but they have a team selection headache – what happened to Handré Pollard and Manie Libbok?

In contrast to his previous column, where he said that Pollard must definitely be in the starting team, he now writes that the Bok management must have confidence in Libbok.

“Yes, he didn’t kick well against Ireland, but he offers so many options for his team in attack. In an important World Cup play-off game, his creative play can make a big difference, but it still can’t be enough to beat France.”

He also hacked the tournament draw.

“The fact that Ireland play New Zealand and France play South Africa in the quarter-finals just underlines the ridiculousness of the draw. These duels are good enough for the final. Two big teams will now be eliminated and there is a strong possibility that the semi-final participants will consist exclusively of Six Nations countries.”