Planet Rugby

Preview: France v Canada

16th September 2011 23:44

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Fulgence Ouedraogo C and scrum half Morgan Parra

Playing for his place: Morgan Parra

France's 'second team' have a chance to make a claim for promotion when they face Canada at Mclean Park in Napier on Sunday.

They more things change, the more they stay the same. While most teams in the World Cup are banking on continuity and building momentum, France coach Marc Lièvremont has stuck to his rotation policy and made twelve changes to his side.

It's hard not to harp on about what constant changing does to a team's collective confidence...we've been beating that drum for four years now to no avail.

Lièvremont criticised his side after the Japan game for failing to play as a unit but has inadvertently invited a repeat as individuals look to shine and crack the nod in the team to play the All Blacks in a week's time.

In stark contrast, Canada coach Kieran Crowley has named same matchday 22 that beat Tonga on Wednesday. It's asking a lot of his players to produce the goods with just a four-day recovery but it's also a measure of the confidence he has in a settled side.

"We wanted to reward an outstanding performance," said Canada forwards coach Neil Barnes said.

"And with the four-day turnaround, consistency is key."

The short recovery period given to Canada and the other 'tier two' nations has been one of the major talking points around the rugby world this week. Even if Canada manage to hold on in the opening stages, it will come as no surprise if the wheels come off in the last quarter and fresh-legged Bleus run rampant.

We think the situation is horribly unfair and hope the ever-improving performances of the 'minnows' prompt the IRB to rethink the scheduling in future World Cups.

But back to this year's tournament. The Canadians did well in the set pieces against Tonga, but like many of the smaller nations taking on the big guns, this is where they are likely to be outdone by the French.

Surely Canada won't harbour realistic hopes of winning at Mclean Park but if France show the kind of inconsistency they did against Japan, they are in for a tough battle.

Indeed, top of Lièvremont's wish list will be for his team to keep the pedal to the metal in a similar fashion to New Zealand's rout of Japan.

It's highly unlikely that we'll see a similar scoreline, but the French coach will want his charges to prove that they are capable of performing for all 80 minutes and carry momentum into what is likely to be the Pool A decider on September 24.

Players to watch:

For France: Scrum-half Morgan Parra has been one of the few players to hold a regular starting berth during the Lièvremont era, but found himself on the bench when the 'first-choice' team was named to face Japan. Parra is the epitome of the 'terrier' scrum-half, and is the kind of player who will rise to the occasion, as shown by his late try after coming on in the second half last weekend. The coach had some harsh word for veteran nine Dimitri Yachvili last week so Parra will be out to show he should be the man to start against the All Blacks.

For Canada: Flank Adam Kleeberger was named Man of the Match after a storming performance against Tonga. He's impossible to miss because he's also the leading contender for the 'Bear of the Tournament' award. A tireless worker at the breakdown and a solid line-out option, the University of Victoria loose forward will face a much sterner test of his ability against a high-class French back row.

Head-to-head: Although they won't be playing directly opposite each other, Clermont team-mates Julien Bonnaire and Jamie Cudmore have similar roles for their respectively sides: ie powerful ball carrying, hitting rucks hard and competing in line-outs. It goes without saying that they know each other intimately and Bonnaire will know exactly which buttons to push to get Cudmore's temper boiling.

"You shouldn't rub him up the wrong way, he's impulsive. It can happen that he blows a fuse." said Bonnaire, who wins his 65th cap on Sunday.

Previous results:

2005: France won 50-6 in Nantes
2004: France won 47-13 in Toronto
2002: France won 35-3 in Paris
1999: France won 33-20 in Beziers
1994: France won 28-9 in Besancon
1994: Canada won 16-18 in Nepean
1991: France won 19-13 in Agen

World Cup betting odds

Prediction: Canada will put up a solid fight but they won't have the firepower it match les Tricolors. France by 18 points

The teams:

France: 15 Damien Traille, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 David Marty, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Aurélien Rougerie (c), 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Romain, Millo-Chluski, 4 Pascale Papé, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 William Servat, 1 Jean-Baptiste Poux Poux.
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Fabien Barcella, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Imanol Harinordoquy, 20 Dimitri Yachvili, 21 Fabrice Estebanez, 22 Maxime Médard.

Canada: 15 James Pritchard, 14 Ciaran Hearn, 13 DTH van der Merwe, 12 Ryan Smith, 11 Phil Mackenzie, 10 Ander Monro, 9 Ed Fairhurst, 8 Aaron Carpenter, 7 Chauncey O'Toole, 6 Adam Kleeberger, 5 Jamie Cudmore, 4 Jebb Sinclair, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Pat Riordan (c), 1 Hubert Buydens.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Hamilton, 17 Scott Franklin, 18 Tyler Hotson, 19 Nanyak Dala, 20 Sean White, 21 Nathan Hirayama, 22 Conor Trainor.

Date: Sunday , September 18
Venue: Mclean Park, Napier
Kick-off: 20:30 (08:30 GMT)
Weather: Fine, chance of afternoon shower. Daytime high of 15°C. Evening low 5°C
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand), Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
Television match official: Matt Goddard (Australia)

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