Antoine Dupont leads France side missing four key players as first Rugby World Cup squad named

Colin Newboult

France captain Antoine Dupont before the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

As expected, France will be without four crucial individuals for the opening match of the Rugby World Cup against New Zealand.

Fabien Galthie has still named a strong-looking side but they have endured their injury issues leading into their home tournament.

Jonathan Danty, Romain Ntamack, Paul Willemse and Cyril Baille have all been ruled out of their clash against the All Blacks.

Tournament chances

Ntamack is definitely out of the World Cup while Willemse is a significant doubt, but Danty and Baille should be able to play a part in the pool stages.

Galthie is fortunate to have Jalibert to call on fly-half, who takes his place at half-back alongside captain Antoine Dupont.

Yoram Moefana, who replaces Danty at centre, has also shown his international quality when given a chance in Les Bleus’ team, but the French were a much better side in the Six Nations with the La Rochelle man in situ.

Elsewhere in the backline, they are fully-loaded with Thomas Ramos, Damian Penaud and Gabin Villiere forming a potent back three.

Up front, they are similarly only two players down from their strongest eight but, once again, they are key individuals.

Willemse and Baille are both missing, which means Cameron Woki and Reda Wardi come into the XV.

On the bench, it is as expected with Paul Boudehent the only real bolter having impressed in the World Cup warm-up matches.

The team

France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Yoram Moefana, 11 Gabin Villiere, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Antoine Dupont (c), 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Thibaud Flament, 4 Cameron Woki, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Reda Wardi
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Paul Boudehent, 21 Maxime Lucu 22 Arthur Vincent, 23 Melvyn Jaminet

Date: Friday, September 8
Venue: Stade de France, Saint-Denis
Kick-off: 21:15 local (20:15 BST, 19:15 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Karl Dickson (England), Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)

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