Picamoles leads new-look France against USA
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Louis Picamoles will captain France for the first time on Wednesday, leading out a much-changed French XV to play the United States in the World Cup’s “group of death”.
Coach Jacques Brunel has rotated his squad, making 12 changes to the team that pipped Argentina 23-21 as Les Bleus prepare for a potentially group-deciding “Le Crunch” against old enemies England on October 12 in Yokohama.
Only flank Arthur Iturria, inside centre Gael Fickou and wing Yoann Huget survive from the XV that beat the Pumas in the opening game, a win that put France in the Pool C box seat.
Rampaging No.8 Picamoles will earn his 81st cap but has never captained the national side. He replaces Guilhem Guirado as leader of the team, the hooker dropping to the bench.
France have enjoyed a 10-day rest since their nail-biting win over Argentina but now play Tonga and England in quick succession as they seek to top Pool C, the winner of which will likely play Australia in the quarterfinals.
Camille Lopez, whose drop goal proved the difference between France and Argentina on the opening weekend, will start at flyhalf, forming a halfback partnership with Maxime Machenaud.
Brunel said he had picked a team to play a United States team that were “athletic but less powerful than Tonga”.
Selecting Picamoles as captain was the logical choice, added Brunel.
“He is the one with the most experience in this reshuffled team. And it’s a position and a role that he knows well.”
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 30, 2019
France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Alivereti Raka, 13 Sofiane Guitoune, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Louis Picamoles (captain), 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Arthur Iturria, 5 Paul Gabrillagues, 4 Bernard Le Roux, 3 Emerick Setiano, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Jefferson Poirot, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 20 Gregory Alldritt, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Romain Ntamack, 23 Maxime Medard.
Date: Wednesday, October 2
Venue: Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka City
Kick-off: 16.45 (03.45 USA Eastern time; 07.45 GMT; 09.45 France time)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)