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France name star-studded team to play All Blacks in World Cup opener

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

In the wake of some unfortunate injuries to key players, France coach Fabien Galthie has named a near full-strength side to take on the All Blacks in Friday night’s Rugby World Cup opener.


Les Bleus will be without the likes of Romain Ntamack, Jonathan Danty and Paul Willemse when they take the field at Stade de France in front of more than 80,000 supporters, but have a named a star-studded side in their absence.

Coach Galthie has made three changes to the starting side that played Australia just under two weeks ago, including a big change in the second row.

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With Willemse going down with a World Cup-ending injury, Racing 92 lock Cameron Woki comes into the starting side. Woki joins Thibaud Flament in a menacing French second row.

France has also made one change to their front row, with prop Reda Wardi joining Julien Marchand and Uini Atonio in the First XV.

The backrow remains unchanged with Francois Cros and Charles Ollivon set to monitor the flanks while world-class No. 8 Gregory Alldritt takes his place at the back of the scrum.

Halfback Antoine Dupont, who is arguably the world’s best player, joins flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert in the halves once again this week. The new-look centre pairing of Yoram Moefana and Gael Fickou will line up outside them.


Gabin Villiere, Damian Penaud and Thomas Ramos were all exceptional against Eddie Jones’ Wallabies, and will look to replicate that form on Friday night.

The highly anticipated Rugby World Cup opener between France and New Zealand is set to get underway at 9.15 pm local time at Stade de France.

French team to take on New Zealand

  1. Reda Wardi
  2. Julien Marchand
  3. Uini Atonio
  4. Cameron Woki
  5. Thibaud Flament
  6. Francois Cros
  7. Charles Ollivon
  8. Gregory Alldritt
  9. Antoine Dupont
  10. Matthieu Jalibert
  11. Gabin Villiere
  12. Yoram Moefana
  13. Gael Fickou
  14. Damian Penaud
  15. Thomas Ramos


  1. Peato Mauvaka
  2. Jean-Baptiste Gros
  3. Dorian Aldegheri
  4. Romain Taofifenua
  5. Paul Boudehent
  6. Maxime Lucu
  7. Arthur Vincent
  8. Melvyn Jaminet


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