Match Details: France v New Zealand, Stade de France, Paris, Friday 8 September, 9.15pm CEST [Saturday 9 September, 7.15 am NZT].
Won: France 13, New Zealand 48, Drawn 1
Last time: France 40-25 New Zealand, Stade de France, Paris, 2021
Referee: Jaco Peyper
France finished second in the Six Nations after losing a key game against Ireland in Dublin. Their second-string side lost to Scotland in the first of their World Cup warm-up games 21-25, but restored to strength they won 30-27. They beat Fiji 34-17 and finished their Cup preparation with a 41-17 win over Australia. New Zealand won the Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship with wins over Argentina (41-12), South Africa (35-20) and Australia (38-7) with their only home game in the Championship against South Africa. Their last game in New Zealand was a 23-20 win over Australia in Dunedin. Last month, they lost their most recent game 7-35 to South Africa.
RECORD ON LINE
New Zealand's record as the only country never to be beaten in 31 pool games at Rugby World Cup goes on the line in Paris. They have played the most games at World Cups, with 57, and a win in Paris would see them become the first side to win 50 World Cup contests. All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock, the third most-capped player in Test rugby, is challenging the record for most World Cup games. The Test will be his 20th, two less than the most capped players, Richie McCaw and Jason Leonard of England. All Blacks' first five-eighths, Richie Mo'unga is playing his 50th Test. While he is the fourth-highest scorer in Tests for New Zealand, he has not scored in three Tests against France. Tighthead prop Nepo Laulala will also play his 50th Test. No8 Ardie Savea is the only All Blacks to have started the five Tests they have played in 2023.
France will field 13 members of the side that beat the All Blacks in their last meeting in 2021. France captain and halfback Antoine Dupont will mark the game with his 50th Tests, the sixth French halfback to achieve the milestone. In 18 Tests as captain, Dupont has never lost a home Test. Tomas Ramos was the leading points scorer in the 2023 Six Nations with 84 points and a goal-kicking success rate of 86 per cent. It is his 28th Test, but his first against New Zealand. Centre Gael Fickou is playing his seventh Test against the All Blacks; his first was in 2013. The 10th most capped French player, his 81 Tests are the most played by any member of the French side. Coach Fabien Galthie is the fifth Frenchman to play and coach their country at a Rugby World Cup. The others were, Pierre Berbizier, Daniel Dubroca, Marc Lievremont and Phillippe Saint-Andre.
The teams have met eight times at Stade de France, France's only win being their 40-25 win in 2021, while one game was drawn. New Zealand have scored 24 tries to France's 13. Should France win, it will be only their second back-to-back win against the All Blacks at home, the previous occasion being the 1973 Test and the first Test of the 1977 series in Toulouse.
New Zealand is playing the opening game of a Rugby World Cup tournament for the fourth time. Their first was in 1987 vs Italy, the second in 1991 against England and the third in 2011 against Tonga.
1 Reda Wardi, 2 Julien Marchand, 3 Uini Atonio, 4 Cameron Woki, 5 Thibaud Flament, , 6 Francois Cros, 7 Charles Ollivon8 Gregory Alldritt, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain), 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 11 Gabin Villiere, 12 Yoram Moefana, 13 Gael Fickou,14 Damian Penaud, 15 Thomas Ramos
Reserves: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Romain Taofifienua, 20 Paul Boudehent, 21 Maxime Lucu, 22 Arthur Vincent, 23 Melvyn Jaminet.
All Blacks (caps in brackets):
1. Ethan de Groot (17) 2. Codie Taylor (79) 3. Nepo Laulala (49) 4. Samuel Whitelock (146) 5. Scott Barrett (62) 6. Dalton Papali’i (26) 7. Sam Cane (c) (90) 8. Ardie Savea (75) 9. Aaron Smith (119) 10. Richie Mo’unga (49) 11. Mark Telea (5) 12. Anton Lienert-Brown (63) 13. Rieko Ioane (63) 14. Will Jordan (25) 15. Beauden Barrett (116)
Reserves: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho (25) 17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (53) 18. Fletcher Newell (8) 19. Tupou Vaa’i (22) 20. Luke Jacobson (15) 21. Finlay Christie (17) 22. David Havili (25) 23. Leicester Fainga’anuku (3)