France

Published on: August 16, 2015

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Will they put their hearts into one of the greatest performance or will they not care? We won’t know until kick-off, and neither do they it seems.

World Ranking: 7

Odds of Winning: 20/1

Road to Qualification: World Cup 2011 Finalists

Recent Results:

England 19 – 14 France

England  55 – 35 France

Italy 0 – 29 France

France 13 – 20 Wales

World Cup Pool Games:

Date Time Team v Team Stadium
Saturday, 19 September 15 20:00 France Italy Twickenham
Wednesday, 23 September 15 20:00 France Romania Olympic Stadium
Thursday, 1 October 15 20:00 France Canada Stadium MK, Milton Keynes
Sunday, 11 October 15 16:45 France Ireland Millenium Stadium, Cardiff

Strengths:

  • The ever-predictable unpredictability.
  • Individual flair – the likes of Trinh-Duc, Parra, Fofana, or Dulin can light up a game.
  • Set Piece – the front row is strong and massive. The French scrum will be hard to move.

Weaknesses:

  • Unpredictability always comes back to bite France.
  • Ever-changing squad.
  • Poor form since the last RWC – including the first Six Nations wooden spoon in 2013.

Key Players:

  • Thierry Dusautoir – the captain was names IRB player of the year in 2011.
  • François Trinh-Duc – the flyhalf has been in and out of the French squad in the last four years and now seems to be back for good. Update: he is now out of the squad, a decision that eludes everyone but the French staff.

[youtube https://youtu.be/TaVHoQj5zZY]

Video Source: TheGreatRugbyWorld

  • Morgan Parra – an old-school scrumhalf. Will milk penalties and add speed to the game at unexpected moments.
  • Rabah Slimani – a young, talented tighthead prop.
  • Wesley Fofana – he is now more than a punchy centre, and can make others play around him. Now widely regarded as one of the best inside centres in the world.

[youtube https://youtu.be/6HnXKzzDvsE]

Video Source: TheGreatRugbyWorld

Injuries / Unlucky to miss out:

  • Maxime Mermoz (Centre, Toulon) – he started in the last RWC final and has been on form the whole season. Many see his non-selection as an injustice.
  • Maxime Machenaud (Scrum-Half, Racing) – seen as fourth choice by the French staff he had a great season, pushing Mike Philipps to the bench.
  • Camille Lopez (Fly-Half, Clermont) – he was the first choice during the last Six Nations until an little injury sparked a conflict between club and country that disagreed over the severity of his knee problem.
  • Jules Plisson (Fly-Half, Stade Français) – injured towards the end of the season, he is back to fitness but was not deemed fit-enough to be in the preparation training squad when it was announced.
  • Didn’t make the cut from the 36-man training squad to the 31-man RWC squad: Xavier Chiocci (Prop, Toulon), Sébatien Vahaamahina (Lock, Clermont), Loann Goujon (Number 8, La Rochelle), François Trinh-Duc (Victim, Montpellier), Rémi Lamerat (Centre, Castres).

Squad:

Loosehead Props: Vincent Debaty (Clermont), Eddy Ben Arous (Racing).

Hookers: Guilhem Guirado (Toulon), Benjamin Kayser (Clermont), Dimitri Szarzewski (Racing).

Tighthead Props: Uini Atonio (La Rochelle), Nicolas Mas (Montpellier), Rabah Slimani (Stade Français).

Second Row: Pascal Papé (Stade Français), Alexandre Flanquart (Stade Français), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse).

Back Row: Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse), Bernard Le Roux (Racing), Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse/Racing), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Damien Chouly (Clermont), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse)

Scrum Halves: Morgan Parra (Clermont), Sébastien Tillous-Borde (Toulon), Rory Kockott (Castres)

Fly Halves: Rémi Talès (Castres), Frédéric, Michalak (Toulon)

Centres: Gaël Fickou (Toulouse), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon), Alexandre Dumoulin (Racing)

Back 3: Sofiane Guitoune (Bordeaux), Yoann Huget (Toulouse), Noa Nakaitaci (Clermont), Brice Dulin (Racing), Scott Spedding (Bayonne/Clermont)

Summary:

French coach Philippe Saint-André has tried out a lot of players since taking the job just after the RWC 2011, yet doesn’t quite seem to have found his team. Fans hopes to see François Trinh-Duc leading the show were crushed by Saint-André as he announced the final list of 31 players! In the last Six Nations game against England, France proved that they can still play exciting attacking rugby, but defended poorly.

With only three “natural” wingers in the squad (Guitoune, Huget and Nakaitaci), it is likely that fullback Brice Dulin and centres Fickou and Fofana are seen by Saint-André as cover for the wings. In of fact both Dulin and Fickou were tried out on the left wing in the first England game at Twickenham. While they are both fantastic players in their positions, both were beaten by Anthony Watson on the wing, and will be raising fans’ concerns.

In the front row, young Rabah Slimani and the experimental Nicolas Mas could be crucial for France at tighthead prop. Captain Thierry Dusautoir is recovering from a knee injury, but should be fit for the Scotland game and the tournament. Yannick Nyanga, Bernard Le Roux, Damien Chouly and Louis Picamoles will help form a very powerful and potent back row.

With the runner-up of Pool D facing the leader of Pool C in the Quarter-Finals, it is likely that we will see another infamous France-New Zealand in Cardiff. And we all know what happened then!

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