Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
For me this is probably the rugby test match of this huge weekend of rugby. The South Africa-Wales game is a huge encounter and rivals this match as the rugby test of the weekend, some are saying of the month. I would place the Samoa-Ireland game up there as well. This is the first of only three previews I have time to do this weekend.
New Zealand and France have a long test rugby history going back to 1906. It was New Zealand who first gave official test status to the French team at that time.
In recent years the 2011 Rugby World Cup final springs to mind as a close and nerve-racking encounter to watch. France’s win in the 2003 Rugby World Cup quarter finals is another ‘Les Horribles’ games that New Zealand has had to endure from France.
New Zealand were dominant in their three tests against the touring French side back in June.
Playing on their home turf France will be a team difficult to defeat. They will be unpredictable as they are in all their test matches. They could light a spark and be unbeatable on their day. They are just as likely to produce a stinker and be booed off the ground by the French supporters. It has happened many times before. After finishing last in the 2013 6 Nations and with only one win so far this year the coaching position of Philippe Saint-André is open to question. A poor performance today could be his downfall.
So how do the All Blacks go about this game? This is a team that plays the game, both defence and attack, with amazing speed and skills. They are THE team to defeat. There is not a weakness in their game at present and they have depth to burn. No longer do Kiwi supporters shudder when Richie McCaw or Dan Carter can’t play. The depth is amazing for such a small nation.
Last Five Encounters
22.06.2013 New Zealand 24-9 in New Plymouth
15.06.2013 New Zealand 30-0 in Christchurch
08.06.2013 New Zealand 23-13 in Auckland
23.10.2011 New Zealand 8-7 in Auckland (World Cup Final)
24.09.2011 New Zealand 37-17 in Auckland (World Cup, Pool A)
France last defeated New Zealand in 2009. They won 27-22 in Dunedin
GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-New Zealand 1st, France 5th
IRB Ranking Points
New Zealand 93.05, France 81.59
Prediction: New Zealand by 20 points
15 Brice Dulin, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Wesley Fofana,
11 Maxime Médard 10 Rémi Talès, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Damien Chouly,
7 Wenceslas Lauret, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (Capt.), 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Papé, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Yannick Forestier.
16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 20 Antonie Claassen, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Camille Lopez, 23 Gael Fickou.
Head Coach: Philippe Saint-André
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Benjamin Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (Capt.), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
16 Daniel Coles, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charles Faumuina, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Samuel Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ryan Crotty.
Head Coach: Steve Hansen