Six Nations: Odds-on England can overcome the losing World Cup finalists' curse

England take a trip to Paris to begin their Six Nations campaign and Jason Pettigrove says Eddie Jones' side will overcome any lingering World Cup hangover with a win in the opener

The Stade de France on Sunday afternoon is where England begin their 2020 Six Nations campaign, and Eddie Jones has already warned his charges about the curse of losing World Cup finalists.
Of the last four teams to be beaten in the showpiece, all of them have seen their results suffer in their following fixtures.
Jones is wily and experienced enough to ensure that doesn't happen, though the French will want to avenge their mauling at Twickenham from just under a year ago.
Jonny May hat-trick helped inspire England to a 44-8 romp on that occasion, and it's worth pointing out too, that it was a 10th England win in the last 13 Six Nations matches between the sides.
New French coach, Fabian Galthie, has already expressed a desire to bring back the glory days from when he was a player. Jacques Brunel's successor has brought in ex-Wales man, Shaun Edwards, to shore up the French defence, and help to eradicate the basic errors that have underscored recent performances.
Galthie's hope is that his nous will enhance Les Bleus' chances of winning the tournament again for the first time in a decade, but even the most optimistic of French supporters might think that's a big ask given that he has jettisoned the likes of Camille Lopez, Yoann Huget and Maxime Medard.
Indeed, Matthieu Jalibert, their oldest fly half is just 21 years of age. With Eddie Jones promising that his players will bring "brutal physicality" to this opening game, both Galthie and Edwards may have to rethink their strategy on the fly.

Launchbury blow not terminal to England's chances

England were dealt a blow with the news that Wasps captain, Joe Launchbury, is ruled out of this one with a knee complaint, though Saracens' Maro Itoje is a more than able replacement.
Billy Vinupola also finds himself unavailable for selection, and with Harlequin's Alex Dombrandt not picked by Jones, and Mark Wilson injured, the expectation will be that either Ben Earl (Saracens), Tom Curry (Sale) or Lewis Ludlam (Northampton) - all of whom have limited experience at the base of the scrum - will step up at the Stade de France.
They'll need to match Vinupola's presence, passing range and his ability in the line-out, although Jones has already indicated that the role of the No.8 in this game will be different, and that's because he wants more balance in that area of the pitch.
A war of attrition will be expected, given that work-rate and defensive capabilities are a prerequisite for Jones, but it's running rugby that will win them the game.
France's youngsters will likely sink under a barrage of such attacking intent, plus the visitors also have a weapon in the form of Owen Farrell's right boot should they require it.
That hasn't stopped Galthie putting his trust in the mobile Charles Ollivon as his captain, and the flanker will look to drive his side forward and lead by example, despite only having 11 caps to his name.
Killian Geraci, Lyon's 20-year-old lock and part of France's 'Golden Generation' of youngsters, is a powerhouse who, alongside Romain 'The Wall' Taofifenua, can certainly disrupt England's free-flowing game too, given half the chance.

Experience and form the key

Whilst one can understand Galthie's mindset to a degree, to dispense with so many of the old guard against an England side who are at their best with ball in hand - something they'll have plenty of on Sunday - does look a little foolish.
Relying on England's injuries isn't enough. In the big moments, both teams will look towards their experienced heads to get them through, and, frankly, France are sorely lacking in that department. Twenty of their 42-man squad are uncapped, even if that number may decrease in the lead up to the game.
On recent form too, there's an argument that the French have far too much ground to make up to even make a game of it on Sunday, against the Betfair Exchange's clear 1.88 favourites to lift the title this year.
In their last nine games, wins over the USA and Argentina were not without merit, but neither were they anything to shout from the rooftops.
France's defeats in last years Six Nations against Ireland, Wales and England are much more of an accurate barometer from which they should be measured, and it doesn't make for a pleasant watch.
The Betfair Sportsbook has England at a generous 8/13 on for this one, and even a heartily sung La Marseillaise as well as a partisan home crowd won't make a difference here. With a point still to prove after their World Cup final defeat, England to win by 13+ at 13/5 is worth looking at too.

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