France v England headlines crunch weekend at Rugby World Cup 2021
New Zealand, Wales, Canada, Italy, England and France put their unbeaten starts on the line in Auckland and Whangārei.
Rugby World Cup 2021 · 5 min read
We spoke to the England and Wasps prop, who was a guest on this week’s Rugby World Cup 2021 Breakfast Party.
Wasps and England prop Bryony Cleall has backed the Red Roses to win a third Rugby World Cup title in New Zealand on 12 November.
Cleall, who narrowly missed out on a place in Simon Middleton’s Rugby World Cup 2021 squad, joined Greg O’Shea and Ashleigh Wilmot on this week’s edition of the Breakfast Party.
Having spent time in the camp this summer and played in the warm-up win against the USA last month, she knows exactly how driven the squad is to avenge England’s RWC 2017 final defeat to the Black Ferns.
The Red Roses opened their RWC 2021 campaign with a 26th consecutive test victory, against Fiji, and asked how hungry they are to lift the trophy next month, Cleall replied: “Unbelievably.
“If you watched the [Wear the Rose] documentary, the 2017 World Cup stung.
“It hurt and there are girls [in the squad] that are really upset about it, so I think they're so hungry to go out there.
“Everyone says, ‘oh, you've won 26 games in a row’, but you're not the world's best until you've won a World Cup.”
England’s next assignment is a Pool C encounter against France in Whangārei on Saturday, but Cleall believes the only thing that can prevent the Red Roses from winning RWC 2021 is themselves.
“England would have to play badly, and another team would have to play really well,” she added.
“So, as long as England don't play badly, they'll win the World Cup.”
France have not beaten England since the Women’s Six Nations 2018, losing their last 10 meetings with the Red Roses, six of those defeats coming by six or fewer points.
Cleall, who played in back-to-back England wins against France last year, admitted that Les Bleues would “love” to be the team to put an end to the Red Roses’ record winning run.
“It’s a huge rivalry,” she said. “Obviously, when you go to France, it's an even bigger kettle of fish, but they hate us and it's such a rivalry.
“If you lose to a team 10 times in a row and every time it's so close, I don't know what it does mentally to you, but it's going to be a really big game and both teams aren't going to want to lose in the World Cup.”