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Dublin: 11°C Friday 16 April 2021

Clive Woodward: Wales can win World Cup

“If Wales field their first XV, they are potential World Cup winners,” the former tournament-winning boss insists.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland.
Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland

FORMER RUGBY WORLD Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward has claimed a full-strength Wales have the quality to win next year’s world titles.

Wales have won the past two Six Nations titles but have never won the World Cup, however, Woodward believes injuries are the main hurdle for Warren Gatland’s side at the 2015 tournament in England.

Woodward concedes Wales does not have ‘the depth’ compared to some other nations but the former England coach, who won the World Cup in 2003, is convinced the Welsh will be hard to beat.

“If Wales field their first XV, they are potential World Cup winners,” Woodward told Wales Online. “Wales have not got the depth of options available to England but they do have the quality. When they are at their strongest, they are a match for any team in the world.

“Their players were crucial to the (British and Irish) Lions’ (Australian tour) and I thought skipper Sam Warburton was amazing.”

Wales have been grouped with Australia and England for the opening stage of next year’s tournament, while Pool A will be completed by two lower-ranked nations, who have yet to be decided.

Woodward reckons England cannot win without improved output from their backs. Stuart is doing an excellent job and has a good team developing,” Woodward said. “And the Lions experiences this summer of coaches Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree will benefit them hugely.

“But the World Cup will be incredibly competitive in the qualifying pools, particularly for England who are drawn with Wales and Australia. It’s no longer about development, it’s now about results.

“The England forwards look very impressive but it’s time for our backline to step up and start firing on all cylinders.”

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