France fully loaded for Namibia at Rugby World Cup on TSN
France is coming fully loaded for Namibia at the Rugby World Cup on Thursday in Marseille.
After overcoming three-time champion New Zealand on opening night, France served up a second-string side against Uruguay last week and a lackluster and ill-disciplined 27-12 win was booed in Lille in front of President Emmanuel Macron.
The French couldn’t even claim a bonus point and now think it would be a good idea to restore confidence and the public’s faith instead of rotating players too much with a more challenging test against Italy in their last pool game and an expected quarterfinal looming.
“A lot of players were spared after the match against the All Blacks two weeks ago, and there are still two weeks to go before Italy and other forthcoming matches, I hope,” France captain Antoine Dupont said. “We want to play the best possible match, both in terms of results and form.”
FRANCE vs. NAMIBIA (France leads 2-0 overall, 2-0 in RWC)
After 12 changes for Uruguay, France has made 12 changes again for Namibia.
Only lock Cameron Woki, flanker Anthony Jelonch and wing Louis Bielle-Biarry have retained their spots, with 10 players who started in the 27-13 win against the All Blacks coming back into the starting XV. Two first-choice players who missed the All Blacks game, inside center Jonathan Danty and prop Cyril Baille, return from injury.
“After the match in Lille, we had seven days to put the All Blacks players back into a classic rotation,” coach Fabien Galthie said. “This is the team we fielded the day after the Uruguay match. Our method is based on adaptability. We adapt and read according to the deadlines. It’s Darwin’s theory: The most intelligent species adapts.”
Namibia gave Italy a good run until it run out of puff and lost 52-8, then was overwhelmed by New Zealand 71-3 last week.
Its only two previous meetings with France were both defeats at the Rugby World Cup and in France, in 1999 and 2007. The 87-10 result in 2007 remains France’s highest score and biggest margin in test history.
Two French players scored hat tricks in the fixtures; Ugo Mola in 1999 and Vincent Clerc in 2007.
Current wing Damian Penaud is on a career-best five-game try-scoring streak. He has nine tries this year and the opportunity to become the first Frenchman to score 10 tries in a calendar year since 1995, when Phillipe Saint-Andre scored 12.
Penaud has 30 test tries, tied for fourth with Philippe Sella on France’s all-time list. Only Serge Blanco (38), Vincent Clerc (34), and Phillipe Saint-Andre (32) have more.
Despite the daunting French challenge, Namibia has warned it will keep its attacking mindset at Stade Velodrome. It has one try so far.
“We’re not going to reach anything if we kick for poles,” captain Johan Deysel said. “We’re going for touch and we’re going to try to score tries. That’s what rugby’s about, that’s the fun part of it, and that’s what the crowd likes. We’ll certainly go for touch again, we won’t back out.”