Les Bleues scored five tries in convincing win to secure bronze medal
France Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad 2022
France’s love affair with third place at the Rugby World Cup continues. Their 36-0 hammering of Canada at Eden Park means they have now taken ‘bronze’ at six of the women’s tournaments (seven if you include their victory in the unofficial third-place play-off against New Zealand in the tournament in 1991).
This was an extremely dominant performance by les Bleues, albeit that Canada looked tired and were exposed more easily than they have been in previous games at this tournament. France beat three times as many defenders as the Canadians while maintaining their solidity without the ball to deny their opponents a single point.
Madoussou Fall scored the first try in the 12th minute, going over after a series a strong carries close to the Canada line from a lineout. Then Caroline Drouin added a penalty to her earlier conversion to make it 10-0 midway through the first period.
Les Bleues’ defence was able to withstand a spell of Canada pressure in the second quarter and then Gabrielle Vernier struck at the other end to set up a try for Pauline Bourdon. She cut between two defenders to break into the 22 and then passed inside to Bourdon to score.
They struck again just before the break, with Bourdon this time the creator. The scrum-half sniped down the blindside, passed inside to Drouin, who then found Marine Menager out wide. The winger bumped off Elissa Alarie and stretched over in the corner.
France were quick to strike again in the second half when Annaelle Deshaye burst over from close range following a lineout maul.
Then, having weathered another storm from those in red in their 22, they scored on the hour mark. They had put the Canadians under pressure with a counter-attack and kick ahead, and from the sliced clearance into touch they worked the phases close to the French line.
After prominent work from Chloe Jacquet and Safi N’Diaye, the ball was spread wide for Menager to get her second.
So it’s another bronze medal for France, but they will surely return home wondering what colour they might have achieved had that late kick gone through the posts last weekend…
France team to play Canada – Saturday 12 November
Emilie Boulard; Joanna Grisez, Maëlle Filopon, Gabrielle Vernier, Marine Ménager; Caroline Drouin, Pauline Bourdon; Annaëlle Deshaye, Agathe Sochat, Assia Khalfaoui, Céline Ferer, Madoussou Fall, Gaëlle Hermet (captain), Charlotte Escudero, Romane Ménager.
Replacements: Laure Touye, Célia Domain, Clara Joyeux, Safi N’Diaye, Marjorie Mayans, Alexandra Chambon, Jessy Trémoulière, Chloé Jacquet.
New Zealand 25-24 France
Caroline Drouin missed a last-minute penalty that would have sent France into their first-ever women’s Rugby World Cup final.
Les Bleues were given a late opportunity to win the match when awarded a penalty following a dangerous tackle by Santo Taumata, which saw the New Zealand prop sent to the sin-bin. They would have deserved to reach next weekend’s showpiece, too, with a stupendous performance that constantly repelled the Black Ferns. Instead, they will play Canada in the third-place play-off after the fly-half sent the kick wide.
It was a dramatic ending to a match that had a similar intensity and physicality to France’s pool match against England, but les Bleues’ winning run against the Black Ferns is over as the hosts progress to the final.
France’s record of not conceding a point in the opening 20 minutes of all their matches at this World Cup continued as the blue wall thwarted the much-vaunted Black Ferns attack.
There were some huge hits going in – Gabrielle Vernier’s tackles particularly notable – and they kept New Zealand’s dangerous runners in check for much of the first half.
Les Bleues were also able to make significant indents of their own. An early scrum penalty allowed them to deploy their maul and while Madoussou Fall was held up a few phases later, Caroline Drouin did slot a penalty to give them an early lead.
They then got the first try midway through the half when they launched again from a maul, with Romane Menager powering over from a subsequent pick-and-go. Drouin’s conversion made it 10-0 and they continued to repel the waves of black shirts.
Still, they conceded a penalty that Renee Holmes put through the posts and then a Drouin error handed the Black Ferns the perfect attacking platform to score from. After holding up a New Zealand drive – Pauline Bourdon and Fall prominent in that – Drouin kicked the goal-line dropout straight out, which gave the Black Ferns a five-metre scrum under the posts.
When they were then awarded a free-kick, Kendra Cocksedge took a quick tap, passed to Ruahei Demant and the captain fired a wide pass out to Stacey Fluhler to run in on the edge. Holmes’s conversion levelled the scores, but France had the final say in the first half.
Building again from a lineout in the 22, they worked the phases and then Vernier hit a powerful line to get over next to the posts. Half-time and it was 17-10.
It was the Black Ferns out of the blocks fastest in the second half. Ruby Tui produced a masterful finish to ground the ball just before it rolled over the dead-ball line as she chased a kick ahead. The hosts then took the lead for the first time in the 58th minute when Theresa Fitzpatrick hit a great line to surge over next to the posts in a similar fashion to Vernier in the first half.
Five points from the boot of Demant – conversion and a penalty a couple of minutes later – made it 25-17 to the hosts going into the final quarter, but then back came France.
From a lineout just outside the 22, Safi N’Diaye made ground and then Menager powered through a few Black Ferns defenders to score her second under the posts.
Only one point separated the sides going into the final 15 minutes.
France arguably had the better of that period, even though they were reduced to 14 players for most of it after Safi N’Diaye was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle. They couldn’t get any more points on the board, however, even when awarded that late penalty, so the wait to reach that first final goes on.
France team to play New Zealand – Saturday 5 November
Emilie Boulard; Joanna Grisez, Maëlle Filopon, Gabrielle Vernier Marine Ménager; Caroline Drouin, Pauline Bourdon; Annaëlle Deshaye, Agathe Sochat, Clara Joyeux, Céline Ferer, Madoussou Fall, Gaëlle Hermet (captain), Charlotte Escudero, Romane Ménager.
Replacements: Célia Domain, Coco Lindelauf, Assia Khalfaoui, Safi N’Diaye, Marjorie Mayans, Alexandra Chambon, Lina Queyroi, Chloé Jacquet.
France 39-3 Italy
Les Bleues have yet to produce a full 80-minute performance in this tournament and at times can look indecisive in attack, but they continue to do enough to progress. It took them a while to break down an Azzurre side who were dogged in defence, but four tries in the final quarter of the match meant they ultimately eased to a place in the last four.
France needed less than three minutes to score their first try, but it took them close to an hour to get a second. They had two rightly ruled out by the TMO in between those scores, but they also struggled to find a way through a stubborn Italian defence.
That early try came when Italy gave Emilie Boulard far too much space as she ran back a deep kick and by the time she was tackled by Sofia Stefan, she was able to offload to Grisez in support to run in under the posts.
Caroline Drouin, who played arguably her best game of this World Cup, kicked the conversion to make it 7-0, but for all their dominance over the following 37 minutes they could only add another three points to the scoreboard before half-time through a Drouin penalty.
Another Drouin penalty came early in the second half, shortly after Charlotte Escudero had lost control of the ball as she barrelled over the line from a scrum. That was the first try France had chalked off on review.
Then around the hour mark Boulard was sent over the line by Drouin but the try was ruled out for a knock-on earlier in the move. Play was restarted with a France five-metre scrum – Italy had ripped the ball forward first – and as they powered forward referee Hollie Davidson awarded a penalty try and sin-binned Silvia Turani.
France kicked up a gear after that, making the most of the numerical advantage. First Laure Touye got over from the back of a maul and then Grisez completed her hat-trick with two tries in two minutes out wide as France put themselves firmly in control.
So it’s yet another semi-final for France – but can they make it to their first-ever final?
France team to play Italy – Saturday 29 October
Emilie Boulard; Joanna Grisez, Maëlle Filopon, Gabrielle Vernier, Marine Ménager; Caroline Drouin, Pauline Bourdon; Annaëlle Deshaye, Agathe Sochat, Clara Joyeux, Céline Ferer, Madoussou Fall, Gaëlle Hermet (captain), Marjorie Mayans, Charlotte Escudero.
Replacements: Laure Touye, Coco Lindelauf, Assia Khalfaoui, Safi N’Diaye, Emeline Gros, Alexandra Chambon, Lina Queyroi, Chloé Jacquet.
France 44-0 Fiji
The France Women’s Rugby World Cup squad booked their place in the quarter-finals with a seven-try victory over Fiji in Whangarei.
There was a lack of fluidity to this match, with handling errors and penalties meaning both teams struggled to build momentum.
Still, France led 20-0 at the break thanks to tries from Marine Menager, Melissande Llorens and Maelle Filopon as well as five points from the boot of Jessy Tremouliere.
The French had the better chances in that opening period but they weren’t always able to capitalise on them, particularly come lineout time. Their own line was rarely threatened, though, as they kept Fiji at bay with their defence while Tremouliere’s kicking game also kept the islanders pinned back.
It took France close to an hour to get the bonus-point try as the second half was equally, if not more, stop-start. It was Filopon who got the important try, crossing for her second after Emeline Gros broke from the back of a scrum eight metres from the Fiji line.
Gros scored herself a few minutes later when she burst over from the back of another close-range scrum to put France firmly in control.
Emilie Boulard added another try in the closing minutes after an initial break from Chloe Jacquet and Celia Domain completed the scoring from a driving maul as the hooter sounded.
So France have confirmed their place in the last eight – and by denying Fiji any bonus points in defeat also did Wales a huge favour.
France team to play Fiji – Saturday 22 October
Emilie Boulard; Melissande Llorens, Maëlle Filopon, Caroline Drouin, Marine Ménager; Jessy Trémoulière, Pauline Bourdon; Coco Lindelauf, Laure Touye, Assia Khalfaoui, Céline Ferer, Safi N’Diaye, Gaëlle Hermet (captain), Julie Annery, Emeline Gros.
Replacements: Yllana Brosseau, Célia Domain, Rose Bernadou, Manaé Feleu, Charlotte Escudero, Alexandra Chambon, Lina Queyroi, Chloé Jacquet.
France 7-13 England
Despite a phenomenal defensive performance, France lost their Rugby World Cup Pool C clash 13-7 to England in Whangarei – their 11th straight defeat by the Red Roses.
‘Le Crunch’ lived up to its billing with some ferocious tackles being put in by both teams. In the first half alone, the French made 127 tackles to England’s 35 – an illustration of the Red Roses’ dominance.
However, given that France barely ventured into the opposition 22 after the first dozen minutes and lost two of their key players to injury in the first quarter – Laure Sansus and Romane Menager – they would probably have taken a 10-0 deficit at half-time.
It could have been much worse and that is a credit to their defence, which thwarted England’s attack. Marjorie Mayans was at the heart of that effort, making 24 tackles in the game.
Their own attack barely got out of neutral in the first 40 but they delivered a moment of magic midway through the second half. Caroline Drouin’s cross-field kick was collected by Joanna Grisez, who cut a great angle towards the line. She was hauled down five metres short by Harrison but offloaded to Gaelle Hermet to score their first try. Drouin’s conversion made it 13-7 with 15 minutes remaining.
They couldn’t score again to end that losing run against England but are still on course to qualify for the quarter-finals. And perhaps they will meet the Red Roses again during the knockout stages…
France team to play England – Saturday 15 October
Chloé Jacquet; Joanna Grisez, Maëlle Filopon, Gabrielle Vernier, Emilie Boulard; Caroline Drouin, Laure Sansus; Annaëlle Deshaye, Agathe Sochat, Clara Joyeux, Céline Ferer (captain), Madoussou Fall, Charlotte Escudero, Marjorie Mayans, Romane Ménager.
Replacements: Laure Touye, Coco Lindelauf, Assia Khalfaoui, Safi N’Diaye, Gaëlle Hermet, Pauline Bourdon, Lina Queyroi, Marine Ménager.
South Africa 5-40 France
Laure Sansus scored the first try of the 2022 Rugby World Cup after less than two minutes of the opening game of the tournament, but France were not so ruthless in the ensuing 78 minutes.
Their own errors, coupled with the commitment and physicality of South Africa, led to plenty of fractured attacks and French frustration. They were not able to dominate the Springbok women as many expected, with their lower-ranked opponents not only halting their maul but also gaining an edge at scrum time. Those will be serious causes for concern going into game two against England next weekend.
The scoreline of 40-5 may make it look like a comfortable victory but three tries in the final 15 minutes added a little gloss to proceedings while the uncompromising nature of South Africa’s tackling means there will be plenty of sore bodies in the French ranks.
France led 19-0 after a quarter of the match, Gabrielle Vernier and Emilie Boulard crossing after Sansus’s early try, but they then had to wait 50 minutes to secure the crucial bonus-point try. It was Sansus, of course, who delivered the all-important score, sniping over from a tap penalty five metres out while Caroline Drouin burst through for a fifth try shortly after following an initial break from Romane Menager.
Debutant Joanna Grisez added a final flourish when collecting a Drouin kick to cross in the final minute, but overall it was a surprisingly below-par performance from the French and they may well rue failing to put more points on the board later in the tournament.
France team to play South Africa – Saturday 8 October
Chloé Jacquet; Joanna Grisez, Maëlle Filopon, Gabrielle Vernier, Emilie Boulard; Caroline Drouin, Laure Sansus; Annaëlle Deshaye, Laure Touye, Clara Joyeux, Céline Ferer (captain), Madoussou Fall, Charlotte Escudero, Marjorie Mayans, Romane Ménager.
Replacements: Agathe Sochat, Coco Lindelauf, Assia Khalfaoui, Manaé Feleu, Emeline Gros, Pauline Bourdon, Lina Queyroi, Mélissande Llorens.
France Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad 2022
If a team is to win the Rugby World Cup for the first time this year, France are the most likely nation to do so.
Since their third-place finish in 2017, les Bleues have displayed their credentials on multiple occasions, but the 2018 Six Nations Grand Slam and the ongoing four-match winning run against New Zealand have been particularly impressive.
The 2022 Six Nations saw impressive performances from lock Madoussou Fall and scrum-half Laure Sansus, with the latter being named Player of the Championship.
However, Thomas Darracq’s team have been stuck in England’s shadow for the past three years. Since a memorable victory over the Red Roses in 2018, France have lost ten games in a row to their cross-Channel foes, who last lost a match (against anyone) in 2019 and are the favourites to win the World Cup.
Worse still for the French, they are in the same pool as England for the tournament. It would be quite the occasion to end their losing streak.
Even if they lose to England, they should have no trouble making the knockout stages with South Africa and Fiji their other pool opponents.
Remarkably, France have reached the women’s Rugby World Cup semi-finals in seven out of eight tournaments, but have never reached the final.
They undoubtedly have the tools to make it beyond the last four this time but, considering England’s brilliant form and New Zealand’s home advantage, France could well endure another near-miss.
Darracq selected his 32-strong France Women’s Rugby World Cup squad to travel to New Zealand a couple of days after his side had suffered a shock defeat by Italy in a warm-up match.
There were some surprise omissions in wings Cyrielle Banet and Caroline Boujard and experienced lock Audrey Forlani. Joanna Grisez was a surprise inclusion too; she impressed for France at the Sevens World Cup in Cape Town, where the team won bronze, but is uncapped at 15s level.
Here is the France Women’s Rugby World Cup squad.
Emilie Boulard (23 Aug 1999/Blagnac/Full-back)
Pauline Bourdon (4 Nov 1995/Toulouse/Scrum-half)
Alexandra Chambon (2 Aug 2000/Grenoble/Scrum-half)
Caroline Drouin (7 Jul 1996/Stade Rennais/Fly-half)
Maelle Filopon (27 May 1997/Toulouse/Centre)
Joanna Grisez (5 Oct 1996/Bobigny/Wing)
Chloe Jacquet (17 Apr 2002/Lyon/Centre, Full-back)
Melissande Llorens (18 Jun 2002/Blagnac/Wing)
Marine Menager (26 Jul 1996/Montpellier/Wing)
Lina Queyroi (18 May 2001/Blagnac/Scrum-half)
Laure Sansus (21 Jun 1994/Toulouse/Scrum-half)
Jessy Tremouliere (29 Jul 1992/Romagnat/Full-back)
Gabrielle Vernier (2 Jun 1997/Blagnac/Centre)
Julie Annery (12 Jun 1995/Stade Bordelais/Back-row)
Rose Bernadou (27 Mar 2000/Montpellier/Prop)
Yllana Brosseau (5 Sep 2000/AC Bobigny/Prop)
Annaelle Deshaye (16 Mar 1996/Stade Bordelais/Prop)
Célia Domain (29 Apr 2000/Blagnac/Prop)
Charlotte Escudero (26 Dec 2000/Blagnac/Back-row)
Madoussou Fall (17 Mar 1998/Stade Bordelais/Lock)
Manae Feleu (3 Feb 2000/Grenoble/Lock)
Celine Ferer (21 Jun 1991/Toulouse/Lock)
Emeline Gros (19 Aug 1995/Grenoble/Back-row)
Gaelle Hermet (12 Jun 1996/Toulouse/Back-row)
Clara Joyeux (10 Jan 1998/Blagnac/Prop)
Assia Khalfaoui (24 Mar 2001/Stade Bordelais/Prop)
Coco Lindelauf (17 Jan 2001/Blagnac/Prop)
Marjorie Mayans (17 Nov 1990/Blagnac/Back-row)
Romane Menager (26 Jul 1996/Montpellier/No 8)
Safi N’Diaye (16 Jul 1988/Lock/Montpellier)
Agathe Sochat (21 May 1995/Stade Bordelais/Hooker)
Laure Touye (12 May 1996/Montpellier/Hooker)
France Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad Fixtures 2022
(All kick-off times are UK & Ireland time)
Sat 8 Oct, South Africa 5-40 France
Sat 15 Oct, France 7-13 England
Sat 22 Oct, France 44-0 Fiji
Sat 29 Oct, France 39-3 Italy
Sat 5 Nov, France 24-25 New Zealand
Sat 12 Nov, Canada 0-36 France
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