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  • Date: Friday September 8, 20:00 BST
  • Location: Stade de France, Paris
  • Teams: France v New Zealand

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High quality opening match as the hosts take on the All Blacks


France, along with today’s opponents New Zealand and the world’s top ranked team Ireland, have set the standards in world rugby in recent times. After winning the 2022 Six Nations, they finished runners up to Ireland this time round. They have never won a Rugby World Cup, however, with the fanatical backing that home advantage will give them, and their undoubted quality, they have high hopes of changing that. They have won three out of their four warm-up matches.

France’s style of play is exciting to watch, it focuses on intensity, keeping the ball alive and making creative passing movements. Scrum-half Antoine Dupont, the face of the World Cup in the eyes of the home nations’ media, will lead Les Bleus’ attack. They suffered a blow during the tournament build up when fly-half  Romain Ntamack was ruled out of the tournament through injury. Ntamack is a key man for Fabien Galthié’s side, though their strength in depth means that they are still contenders.

 Lock Paul Willemse was replaced in the squad by Bastien Chalureau on Sept 1 due to a thigh injury. Willemse drops to the 12-man reserve list. Chalureau’s call up is controversial as the  31-year-old is currently appealing against a six-month prison sentence for a racially motivated attack in 2020.

French team named

Centre Jonathan Danty, 30, misses out against the All Blacks with with a hamstring problem. He scored in France’s final warm up match, a 41-17 win over Australia, however, tests after the game showed “a slight problem” with the La Rochelle man’s hamstring. Yoram Moefana (Bordeaux-Begles) replaces him at inside centre.

Fly-half Matthieu Jalibert partners Dupont in the halves, with regular France 10 Ntamack out of the tournament because of injury. Prop Cyril Baille is also ruled out of the pool opener.

France team for New Zealand: Ramos; Penaud, Fickou, Moefana, Villiere; Jalibert, Dupont (capt); Wardi, Marchand, Atonio, Woki, Flament, Cros, Ollivon, Alldritt.

Replacements: Mauvaka, Gros, Aldegheri, Taofifenua, Boudehent, Lucu, Vincent, Jaminet

New Zealand

New Zealand have won the Rugby Championship once again this year and the three-time world champions again look to be a threat. Due to the Rugby Championship concluding in late July the All Blacks have only played two warm up matches, a win over Australia and a defeat to South Africa. The 35-7 loss to the in-form Spring Boks was the heaviest defeat in New Zealand’s history. Not ideal preparation for a side who are most bookmakers’ favourites for the tournament.

New Zealand play a more pragmatic game than France, however, they are masters at finding a way to win and will need to be at their best against a quality French side in a bouncing Stade de France.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has revealed that blindside flanker Shannon Frizell is set to miss the France game with a hamstring injury. Second-row  Brodie Retallick is sidelined with a knee injury, sustained in the Bledisloe Cup win over Australia in Dunedin, which will keep him out of the clash with Les Bleus. Foster hopes to have both players back in contention for their second Pool A match. Tyrel Lomax continues to recover from a gashed leg suffered against South Africa, however, the France game will be too soon for him. Braydon Ennor (knee) is unavailable.

New Zealand team named

New Zealand make four changes to their starting XV for the match against the hosts.

Scott Barrett, who was sent off as the All Blacks in their final warm-up match against South Africa, but has been cleared to play, starts in the second row. His brother Jordie Barrett is out with a knee injury and is replaced by Anton Lienert-Brown. Prop Nepo Laulala comes in for Lomax (cut), while regular choice at hooker Codie Taylor comes in for Dane Coles. Dalton Papalii replaces Luke Jacobson at blind-side flanker.

New Zealand team for France: B Barrett; Jordan, R Ioane, Lienert-Brown, Telea; Mo’unga, Smith; De Groot, Taylor, Laulala; S Barrett, Whitelock; Papalii, Cane (capt), Savea.

Replacements: Taukei’aho, Tu’ungafasi, Newell, Vaa’i, Jacobson, Christie, Havili, Fainga’anuku.


Historically New Zealand have had much the better of the Tests between the two countries with 48 wins to France’s 13, with one match beinf drawn. However, what counts is the here and now. With the second and third ranked teams in the world going head to head it is always going to be close. Home advantage will give the French a huge boost, however, New Zealand are masters at getting the job done and finding a way to win. The quality of the French alongside a passionate home crowd make them narrow favourites.

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Chris is a former athlete and a qualified PE teacher. He is a keen football fan, watching many matches at different levels throughout the season, and enjoys following many different sports. With betting and sports sites, he has a keen eye for detail and can to highlight positives and negatives for users. His experience in sport as a performer, teacher, writer and fan allows him to see things from many different perspectives. Editorial Promise