Saturday night sees the latest instalment of one of rugby's most famous rivalries
France v New Zealand Preview – Autumn Internationals
The last time the two sides faced each other, in June 2018, New Zealand claimed a 49-14 win. France haven’t beaten their old foes since 2009 while the last time they beat the All Blacks on French soil was in 2000.
Yet there have been famous wins over the years, notably at the Rugby World Cup. France knocked the All Blacks out of both the 1999 and 2007 tournaments, and given that they will also meet in the opening match of RWC 2023, there is undoubtedly an extra edge to this fixture.
France have had a successful autumn to date with wins over Argentina and Georgia. New Zealand’s campaign started well with victories over USA, Wales and Italy, but they lost to Ireland last Saturday.
A win for the French would give them a huge boost as a home World Cup moves ever closer while the All Blacks will want to retain their winning run against their pool opponents and bounce back from the Dublin defeat.
It is set to be a thriller, with the head-to-head between Antoine Dupont and Aaron Smith sure to be a highlight. Here’s our France v New Zealand preview.
What’s the big France v New Zealand team news?
France have made five changes to their starting XV, with the most notable coming at fly-half. Romain Ntamack switches to his preferred position with Matthieu Jalibert dropped to the bench. Ntamack will have captain Antoine Dupont alongside him at half-back.
Jonathan Danty comes in at centre and Gabin Villière returns on the wing. In the forwards, hooker Peato Mauvaka is given his first start of the autumn campaign with Paul Willemse and Francois Cros also starting.
On the bench, Gaëtan Barlot makes his first appearance of the autumn and Dylan Cretin is welcomed back into the fold.
Meanwhile the All Blacks have made seven changes to their starting line-up. There’s a new half-back pairing in Richie Mo’unga and Aaron Smith, Quinn Tupaea starts at centre and George Bridge is on the wing.
In the forwards Dane Coles gets the nod at hooker with Akira Ioane and Sam Cane being chosen as flankers.
What have the coaches said?
France head coach Fabien Galthie: “All those (Tests) we have played have been pivotal. This one, knowing the quality of the opponent, has relief but we challenge ourselves on a daily basis to make the best possible.
“We have received the message from their coach to end the year in a strong way at the Stade de France against us. This meeting belongs to our players, it’s their story. They will do whatever they want during and after the haka and during the match.”
New Zealand head coach Ian Foster: “There’s a mutual respect between our two countries built over years and years. Kiwis have always loved the way the French play, there’s a flair about them that we’ve always been drawn to. They have knocked us over in some pretty big moments in history.
“They are a young, formidable team building in confidence and they’ve been targeting this match so it’s a huge way for us to finish our tour.”
What time does it kick-off and is it on TV?
The match will kick-off at 8pm (UK & Ireland time) on Saturday 20 November at the Stade de France.
It’s an all-RFU officiating team. Referee Wayne Barnes takes charge, with Luke Pearce and Karl Dickson his assistants, and Stuart Terheege the TMO.
The fixture will be live on Amazon Prime Video.
Related: Autumn Nations Series TV coverage
What are the line-ups?
France: Melvyn Jaminet; Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Gabin Villière; Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Uini Atonio, Cameron Woki, Paul Willemse, Francois Cros, Anthony Jelonch, Gregory Alldritt.
Replacements: Gaëtan Barlot, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Demba Bamba, Romain Taofifenua, Thibaud Flament, Dylan Cretin, Maxime Lucu, Matthieu Jalibert.
New Zealand: Jordie Barrett; Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Quinn Tupaea, George Bridge; Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Samuel Whitelock (captain), Akira Ioane, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea.
Replacements: Samisoni Taukei’aho, George Bower, Ofa Tuungafasi, Tupou Vaa’i, Shannon Frizell, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, David Havili.
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