International Rugby: France vs New Zealand Preview

The French play host to the World Champions at the Stade de France this Saturday the 11th of November, in a fixture that holds plenty of passion for rugby fans all over the globe.

It is unclear exactly how much longer Guy Novés will remain at the helm of the Head Coach position, with the Toulouse legend's underwhelming record in charge meaning he comes into the Autumn International Series under plenty of fire. His opposite number Steve Hansen will view this weekend's clash as perhaps one of their toughest Tests on tour, and will take nothing for granted. It really is set to be a very intriguing game of rugby.

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France v New Zealand | 11 November 20h45 | Stade de France, Saint-Denis | Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)

To Win (80 Mins)
France 57/10 | Draw 35/1 | New Zealand 1/10
France  (+16.5) 9/10 | New Zealand (-16.5) 9/10 


Following another painfully mediocre season for the men in blue, a few lackluster results this November may indeed spell the end for Novés. It seems a lifetime ago that France were regarded as one of the best teams in world rugby, with their scintillating attacking flair making them hell for any opponent to face. These days however, they are regarded very much as a second-tier rugby nation; and one that seems both directionless and inept.

The Frogs have claimed more than their fair share of upset wins over the men in black in the past, and do always seem to raise themselves for matches against the island nation. That infamous 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter-final aside, the last five-Tests between the sides have ended with just an average of 11.4-points in favor of the All Blacks. Nothing much in it, there.

If the French forwards disrupt the ABs at the set-piece and manage to slow down their breakdown ball, the contest may well turn into more of a scrap. The New Zealand side of 2017 haven't been the all-conquering team we have come to expect over recent seasons and, if France manage to keep them under pressure for the full 80-minutes, may just be in for a dogfight.

New Zealand

Not much should be read into the All Black's performance against the Barbarians last weekend. They started many of their fringe players for that one, and didn't at all play with the usual Kiwi swagger at Twickenham. We can certainly expect a different showing this week however, with Hansen sure to drum into his players the magnitude of such an occasion. The Stade de France is a tough venue for any team to visit (the Parisian crowd sure to play the role of a 16th-man for the French) and if Kieran Read's men don't fully concentrate for the duration of the contest, they may well find themselves struggling to secure the 'W'.

With a 50% chance of rain predicted for Saturday, the All Blacks would have focused on their set-pieces throughout the week. Wet conditions will certainly favor the French, and indeed the Kiwi's chances may well rely on just how well Beauden Barrett manages to control the territorial exchanges off the platform laid by his forwards.

The Teams

New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano,  3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

France: 15 Nans Ducuing; 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Mathieu Bastareaud, 11 Yoann Huget; 10 Anthony Belleau, 9 Antoine Dupont; 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Kevin Gourdon, 6 Judicael Cancoriet; 5 Paul Gabrillagues, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina; 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: Clement Maynadier, Raphael Chaume, Daniel Kotze, Paul Jedrasiak, Anthony Jelonch, Baptiste Serin, Francois Trinh-Duc, Damian Penaud

Verdict: France (-16.5) 9/10
I feel like this may be a lot tighter than many people expect, but with a Southern Hemisphere referee in Angus Gardner taking charge, New Zealand may just have a slight advantage. It may well come down to a battle of the boot, and indeed the loss of flyhalf Camille Lopez for the hosts may play a big role this weekend.

Written by Shaun Goosen for

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