New Zealand defeat may be a World Cup blessing for France
It is a rare occurrence in sport that a defeat may actually be a good thing, but that is the case at the Rugby World Cup as France prepare to take on pre-tournament favourites New Zealand.
A defeat can sometimes kick a talented team or individual into life after a lacklustre performance, as was the case when Spain lost to Switzerland in their opening game of their route to victory at the 2010 football World Cup.
However, it is an easier passage to the Rugby World Cup final that potentially awaits the loser of the Pool A clash between New Zealand and France.
Barring a major shock, the pair are as good as confirmed as qualifying from the group and their showdown will sort out who progresses as winners and runners up.
However, because of Ireland’s slightly shock win over Australia, the expected quarter-final draw has been turned on its head.
Australia finishing second in their pool means a probable last-eight clash with South Africa, while if all goes to plan the winner of that heavyweight tussle would meet the Pool A winners in the semi finals.
For the Pool A runner up, a likely quarter final with a struggling England awaits, with then Ireland, Wales or Samoa awaiting in the last four, which is undoubtedly easier on paper.
France coach Marc Lievremont has stated that defeat is not an option against New Zealand, but secretly he would be far happier avoiding the three southern hemisphere giants until the final.
Meanwhile, New Zealand will want to prove they are the best and will not want to do anything but win in front of their home support.
Therefore, there only seems one outcome, a New Zealand victory priced at 1/9, while it is 13/8 that they triumph over France despite giving up a 22-point start.