Wales out to beat France for World Cup boost

New Straits Times - - Sport -

PARIS: Wales will have the 2019 World Cup on their minds when they con­clude their Six Na­tions cam­paign against France to­day.

Wales suf­fered at the last World Cup draw, one match too many out­side the in­ter­na­tional win­dow in Novem­ber 2014 — a nar­row loss to Aus­tralia — con­sign­ing them to a spot out­side the world’s top eight and a place in a pool which in­cluded hosts Eng­land and the Wal­la­bies.

A tough group by any­one’s stan­dards when you add in Fiji as the fourth team. Even­tu­ally, Wales struck lucky and Eng­land didn’t even make it out of the first round stage.

Hav­ing gone from the threat of drop­ping out of the top eight again should they have lost last week­end to Ire­land — they pre­vailed with an em­phatic 22-9 vic­tory — Wales now seem poised to grab the World No 4 spot from France to bet­ter their chances of avoid­ing a tougher pool draw for Ja­pan in 2019, which takes place in the Ja­panese city of Ky­oto on May 10.

Vic­tory for Wales in Paris — and an Eng­land vic­tory over Ire­land in Dublin — would lift the Welsh into fourth spot, a “large in­cen­tive“, ac­cord­ing to Rob How­ley, in charge after War­ren Gat­land was sec­onded to the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions for their sum­mer tour to New Zealand.

“We feel in good shape like we did for the Ire­land game and we are look­ing for a sim­i­lar re­sult,” said How­ley.

“We have talked about the op­por­tu­nity to go fourth in the world, and we are re­ly­ing on other re­sults to go sec­ond in the cham­pi­onship. We are aware of that.

“We have the op­por­tu­nity to go into the next World Cup ranked fourth in the world. That is a large in­cen­tive for play­ers and the coaches.” AFP

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