'Everyone wanted to avoid England' - France coach Guy Noves reflects on tough World Cup draw
France head coach Guy Noves has classed England alongside New Zealand by admitting they were the two teams everyone wanted to miss in the Rugby World Cup draw.
Unfortunately for France and Noves, Eddie Jones' back-to-back RBS 6 Nations champions landed alongside Les Bleus in Pool C for the 2019 tournament.
With Argentina also in the same section along with qualifiers from the Americas and Oceania, it promises to be a challenging pool for all teams involved, with two places for the quarter-finals on offer.
Noves looked to paint a positive picture of France's draw, but he made it clear England were a side he would rather not have been pitted against.
"We were eagerly looking forward to this draw," Noves said.
"Our pool is very balanced and will allow us to have tough matches from the start of the tournament.
"England were, with New Zealand, the scarecrow that everyone wanted to avoid.
"We've got them in our pool. We're aware the match against Argentina is going to be decisive. We competed with them last year, as we did against England this year."
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France almost claimed a famous Twickenham win at the start of the Six Nations in February, only for a late try from Ben Te'o to hand England victory.
Noves, the 63-year-old former Toulouse coach, added on the French Rugby Federation's website: "At the World Cup there are no easy pools or matches.
"We'll make sure we're up to the challenge. We've got every chance. We're going to prepare for this World Cup with lots of ambition.
"The objective will be to get out of the pool stage in first or second place.
"The other teams will be ready, and us too. In the meantime, we have to show that France are capable of posing problems to any and every opponent."