France ready to hit the ground running in the opening game

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Naming his side for the team, coach Thomas Darracq said France wanted to mark the opening of the tournament with a great performance.


The side will be without captain Gaëlle Hermet who is injured, and the leadership will be in the hands of Céline Ferer.


Darracq said Ferer's experience made her a good choice for the role as her 'ferocity and strong commitment' was an asset in leading the side in their first game.


Ferer said leadership would change nothing in her game, and she said while honoured to be captain, she understood it was only a temporary hat she was wearing.


"It puts a little extra stress on me, I'm trying to take a step back and concentrate on my role as a player, the rest will follow naturally," she said.


South Africa's coach Stanley Raubenheimer said he had picked the best XV for the game and will be looking to the experience of Tayla Kinsey and captain Nolusindiso Booi to have a calming influence on the side.


"The opening game of a World Cup is a stressful occasion and if you can deal with that we will most probably give a good account of ourselves," he said.


South Africa would be looking to start the game well, a problem it has struggled to achieve in recent outings.


"We believe France likes to score quickly and to build a score and, from there, defend that score. If we can prevent them from scoring a lot of points early, they might panic. That's what we are hoping for.


"One thing you can say about this team is they won't lack for effort. We won't lack total commitment, we won't lack courage. We might lack the skill and game knowledge, but the effort, and the real, true South African spirit of fighting until the bitter end will be something beautiful to watch," he said.


Prop Babalwa Latsha said Saturday would be a day all her side remembered as they had looked forward to it for so long.


She said the work done since they qualified in 2019 had been incredible.


"I think we are the fastest and most improved team in the world rugby scheme of things, and that speaks to our growth spurt and the commitment we have been putting in throughout the period towards the ultimate goal.


"This has been the best preparation in the history of Springbok women's rugby. We have played six games and won five out of the six, so it has been a good momentum that we have built over an extended period of time," she said.


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