France v Namibia - Teams and Prediction
WORLD CUP, ROUND THREE: France coach Fabien Galthie is taking inspiration from Charles Darwin to prepare for minnows Namibia in Marseille on Thursday in what should be a further step to topping Pool A in the World Cup.
After seeing off New Zealand in the tournament’s opening match in a 27-13 thriller, Galthie rung the changes for the second game against Uruguay.
That threw up more questions than answers for the coaching staff, however, as a largely second-string side laboured to a 27-12 victory over the South Americans.
It was a win, however, that did not see France bag a try-scoring bonus point, so Galthie has this time plumped for a near full-strength team, leaving no room for error.
Just three from that starting XV against Uruguay were retained for the match against Namibia, who can only look on with envy at a fresh line-up that includes the likes of France skipper Antoine Dupont and fullback Thomas Ramos, and the returns from injury of barn-storming centre Jonathan Danty and Cyril Baille, arguably the world’s best loosehead prop on his day.
Galthie insisted that rotation among the squad was primordial, even quoting Darwin to justify his selection.
“Our method is based on adaptability,” the coach mused.
“It’s a bit like Darwin’s theory: it’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Be that as it may, France will anyway be massive favourites going into the match against Namibia, the African side having already lost 8-52 to Italy and 3-71 to the All Blacks in Pool A.
France wrap up their group stage with a game against Italy in Lyon on October 6, bidding for top spot in the group.
Centre Danco Burger replaced the injured Le Roux Malan in one of nine changes to the Namibia side.
Malan suffered a fracture and dislocation to his right ankle in last Friday’s heavy loss to New Zealand.
24 straight World Cup losses
Captain Johan Deysel, at outside centre, and wing Gerswin Mouton are among three backs to keep their spots while the other, Cliven Loubser, switches from fullback to flyhalf.
Namibia, in their seventh World Cup, have lost all 24 previous matches.
The closest they have come to victory was a one-point defeat by Georgia in 2015. After facing Les Bleus they end their Pool A campaign against Uruguay on September 27 and they have made it no secret that that final game was “their” World Cup.
“The French have selected their best team, which is a great test for our players,” said Namibia coach Allister Coetzee, also justifying his team tinkering.
“It’s important to give every player coming to a World Cup an opportunity to play. Our whole mindset was building towards the last game and see what the players can offer and get to our best possible team for the last game.”
There will be a true baptism of fire for Namibia scrumhalf Jacques Theron, who will be up against the nuggety Dupont.
“It’s my first start for Namibia so I’m massively excited to show what I can do and what’s in me,” Theron said.
“Playing against Dupont, one of the world’s biggest rugby names right now, is going to be a lot of fun and I know I can learn a lot from him, so I’m very excited for the challenge.
“He’s got excellent vision playing the game. As a scrumhalf that’s one of the most important parts you need, so if by any chance he can give me some of that, that would be awesome.”
Player to watch:
For France: Prop Cyril Baille and centre Jonathan Danty make their comeback from injuries and will start this Thursday. Baille, who is considered one of the world’s best loose-head props, along with Danty will be fresh and out to put in some major work. The incredible Antoine Dupont will lead the side from scrumhalf. He is yet to lose a match on home soil when leading the team in 18 Tests.
For Namibia: Captain Johan Deysel, at outside centre, and wing Gerswin Mouton are among three backs to keep their spots for Thursday’s game in Marseille. The pair has been putting in some brave performances against big teams, especially Mouton. Cliven Loubser switches from fullback to flyhalf. Among the forwards to keep their places, Prince Gaoseb shifts across the backrow to No.8 while Johan Retief will pack down at openside flanker instead of lock. Johan ‘Aranos’ Coetzee keeps the tighthead prop shirt.
@rugby365com: France by 40 points
France: 15 Thomas Ramos; 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain), 8 Anthony Jelonch, 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Thibaud Flament, 4 Cameron Woki, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Pierre Bourgarit, 17 Reda Wardi, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Paul Boudehent, 21 Baptiste Couilloud, 22 Yoram Moefana, 23 Melvyn Jaminet
Namibia: 15 Andre van der Berg; 14 Gerswin Mouton, 13 Johan Deysel (captain), 12 Danco Burger, 11 JC Greyling; 10 Cliven Loubser, 9 Jacques Theron; 8 Prince Gaoseb, 7 Johan Retief, 6 Max Katjijeko; 5 Adriaan Ludick, 4 Mahepisa Tjeriko; 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Desiderius Sethie
Replacements: 16 Obert Nortje, 17 Jason Benade, 18 Haitembu Shikufa, 19 PJ Van Lill, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Oela Blaauw, 22 Alcino Izaacs, 23 Divan Rossouw
Date: Thursday, September 21
Venue: Stade de Marseille, Marseille
Kick-off: 21.00 (19.00 GMT; 21.00 CAT)
Expected weather: Thundery showers and a fresh breeze with high of 24°C and a low of 15°C
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland) & Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)
* Additional reporting by AFP