England Rugby World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio is confident his former friends from his playing days at London Wasps can guide Wales to a historic victory over France and book a place in the final.
Dallaglio played alongside former Wales scrum-half Rob Howley at Wasps team when they won the 2004 European Cup under the stewardship of Warren Gatland, with Shaun Edwards as his deputy.
Gatland is now Wales’ coach with Edwards and Howley as his assistants and Dallaglio, a 2003 World Cup-winner, believes the Welsh can subdue France at Eden Park on Saturday and possibly go on to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy.
“Wales have got the game to give any team a match,” he told the walesonline website Thursday, in an interview conducted in Auckland.
“I would be delighted and thrilled for the individuals involved if they won the World Cup because we have got to break this southern hemisphere monopoly on it.”
England remain the only northern hemisphere side to have won the World Cup but Dallaglio, whose successors bowed out last weekend with a quarter-final loss to France, said he’d be delighted if old foes Wales claimed the title.
“Wales have played really well and been a breath of fresh air,” Dallaglio said. “If Wales bring the intensity to Saturday’s game that we have seen in their other matches, they will have a little bit too much for the French team.
“When you look at France you see they have got quality players but Wales have got pace and intensity in their game.”
Meanwhile Dallaglio hailed the tactical input of his former Wasps colleagues into Wales’s 22-10 quarter-final win over Ireland.
“I thought the Irish, tactically, were outplayed by Wales… and that’s despite Ireland being a well-coached side.”
“But I’m not entirely surprised by Wales’s success because I know the people involved,” he added.
But although Dallaglio rates Wales’s chance of making the final, he expects the winners of Sunday’s second semi between hosts New Zealand and Australia to emerge as world champions on October 23.
“Being sensible, the law of averages says the team that wins Sunday’s semi would go on to lift the World Cup,” he said.
“But whether Wales win their next two games or not, they can be proud of what they have done at this World Cup and know they have left everything out on the pitch.”