The Rugby World Cup action heats up this weekend as the quarter-finals kick off, with the final game seeing France take on the Springboks.
Both teams have been named and are stacked with quality from one to 23.
Ahead of the crunch World Cup clash, Planet Rugby has taken on the arduous task of selecting a combined XV from the two starting line-ups.
Combined France v South Africa XV
15 Thomas Ramos (France): Like many of these selections, Ramos and Springboks’ full-back Damian Willemse are near-on impossible to separate. They are both exceptional players with ball in hand, with Willemse getting the edge on defence and with his footwork, but Ramos takes it with his kicking accuracy and arguably his playmaking. Both are incredible talents and extremely versatile.
14 Damian Penaud (France): On form, the Frenchman edges this head-to-head with Kurt-Lee Arendse after a ridiculous pool stage where he scored six tries and assisted four. Arendse has shone defensively, but Penaud gets the edge here and is arguably the best winger on form in the world.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 6, 2023
More close calls
13 Jesse Kriel (South Africa): One of the many selections that split the Planet Rugby writers as Gael Fickou is an incredible talent in his own right. However, on form, Kriel has the slightest of edges, having thrived in the absence of Lukhanyo Am. Both players are defensive masterminds and have impressed in that regard, and quite frankly, there is little splitting them.
12 Damian de Allende (South Africa): Copy and paste from the outside centre debate. De Allende has been in sensational form, and he, Jonathan Danty and Ireland’s Bundee Aki are comfortably the best number 12s in the game at the moment. The South African gets the nod after standout performances in the games against Scotland and Ireland.
24 Contact metres
10 Defenders beaten
5 Turnovers won
0 Pens conceded
28 Contact metres
7 Defenders beaten
1 Turnovers won
2 Pens conceded
— Angus (@AnalystGus) October 12, 2023
11 Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa): The brilliant 20-year-old French star Louis Bielle-Biarrey is incredibly unlucky here after forcing his way into the starting XV ahead of Gabin Villiere. While Kolbe has been quieter than usual, he has been near-on flawless for the Boks on defence and always manages to beat a defender or two when the ball comes his way.
10 Matthieu Jalibert (France): Two glorious playmakers battle it out for the number 10 jumper, and while South Africa’s Manie Libbok has been outstanding in running the Bok attack, and creating try-scoring opportunities, Jalibert has been slightly better. Unlike Libbok, Jalibert does not kick at goal for France but was a catalyst for Les Blues, assisting five tries and scoring one during the pool stages as France beat the All Blacks and thrashed Namibia and Italy.
9 Antoine Dupont (France): It simply had to be. The France captain was in stellar form before his injury and never disappoints on attack or defence. He is quite simply world-class. That is not to say that Springboks’ number nine Cobus Reinach has not been brilliant in his own right, but Dupont has been one of the best for over three years.
🔙 Antoine Dupont returns. #RWC2023
— Planet Rugby (@PlanetRugby) October 13, 2023
Les Bleus stars and inspirational captain
8 Gregory Alldritt (France): The French number eight beats Bok veteran Duane Vermeulen to the jumper. The pair are very similar players with a superbly well-rounded game defensively, offensively and at the set-pieces. In many ways, Alldritt is very much a younger French version of Vermeulen.
7 Charles Ollivon (France): France don’t select conventional openside-blindside flankers, rather left and right. So we have pitted Ollivon against the more like-for-like Bok flanker, Pieter-Steph du Toit. The two world-class operators have been in magnificent form in the build-up to and during the World Cup, and there really isn’t much splitting them. In the end, Ollivon got the nod as he edges Du Toit on the carry, tries and tackle stats in the tournament.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) September 21, 2023
6 Siya Kolisi (South Africa): The inspirational Springbok skipper has returned from injury with a mighty bang and has quickly got back to some of his best form. He beats France’s Anthony Jelonch to a spot in our combined team after he, too, made a rapid return to full fitness and form to feature in the World Cup and quarter-final.
All Springboks second-row
5 Franco Mostert (South Africa): The Springboks’ lineout general has shone since taking charge of the set-piece after Lood de Jager’s injury. A workhorse around the park, Mostert always gives his all and produced a masterful lineout display in the loss to Ireland. He did more than enough to beat the impressive Thibaud Flament to a place in our pack.
4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa): It’s an all-Springbok second-row, and rightly so, with the Bok enforcer beating the exceptional Cameron Woki. Both players are wonderfully gifted, particularly at the lineout, but Etzebeth has made more of a mark around the pitch at this tournament to seal the number four jumper.
Two Boks in the front-row
3 Frans Malherbe (South Africa): Two of the game’s best tightheads battled it out for the number three jumper, and really, it is a coin flip between the two. We have opted for the scrummaging machine, Malherbe, over the equally brilliant Uini Atonio for the role, as the Bok has solidified the pack against strong opposition.
2 Peato Mauvaka (France): An injury to Julien Marchand in the opening game against the All Blacks has provided Mauvaka with the chance to star in the starting XV, and he has taken that chance with both hands. He has been dynamite on defence and simply sensational with ball in hand. Bongi Mbonambi is renowned for producing solid and accurate performances for the Springboks, and that has been the case at the World Cup while adding his trademark physicality on both sides of the ball. It was a close call, but Mauvaka has been a superstar and had to be included.
1 Steven Kitshoff (South Africa): France loosehead Cyril Baille missed the opening two games of the tournament, and while he has returned in fine fettle, he has not been nearly as excellent as Kitshoff. The red-haired loosehead has consistently produced powerhouse performances for the Springboks, whether coming off the bench or in the starting XV. He adds the extra edge of being a strong ball carrier and an exceptional breakdown jackaler.