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Rugby World Cup 2023 Team Review: France 🇫🇷

Rugby World Cup 2023 Team Review: France 🇫🇷 - Absolute Rugby

Matthew Buckland |

With the Rugby World Cup not very far away now, we should take a look at the favourites for the tournament, France. The Rugby World Cup hosts have their best shot at reaching World Cup glory in years.

France’s run to the tournament

Over the last two years, France have established themselves as one of the best teams in the world. When you take a look back over the last four years, you can see that France have been building an exciting young squad for a while now.

The player’s who had been given experience early on stepped up to the next level in 2022, beginning the year by giving France their first Grand Slam in the Six Nations in more than a decade. It helped the team forget that they fumbled the Six Nations title a year prior.

The French team continued that form into the Autumn of last year, with victories over South Africa, Japan and Australia. The Six Nations earlier this year also showed how dangerous this French side is. Losing to Ireland in Ireland is no surprise considering it is arguably the most difficult game in world rugby at the moment.

But they bounced back from that disappointment with impressive wins over Scotland, England and Wales. The win against England was particularly impressive, with the French pack able to bulldoze over the English with ease. It showed the physicality difference between the two sides massively.

They have some good matchups heading into the tournament. France have got four warm up games before the tournament starts, including a pair against Scotland. None of the warm up games should be a massive challenge for this French side and so they head into the tournament in excellent form.

What also helps the French form is that their domestic sides are in great form. With the limited amount of domestic sides, the form of those teams usually feeds into the national side. French sides have won the last three European Challenge Cup’s and the last three Champions Cups.

The physical dominance of the French team is based on the style of play built into almost every Top 14 side. La Rochelle in particular have a similar style to France and the two teams have helped each other improve. So France could not really come into the tournament on much better form.

Predicted French starting XV

France have a pretty settled team all-round. This is one of the predicted XV where it is not too difficult to guess, with their settled team a sign of the quality of this French side.

The front row seems to be set, although France do have more world class stars like Peato Mauvaka, Demba Bamba and Dorian Aldegheri who would probably start for almost any other international team.

The back row is similarly set, with Charles Ollivon a mainstay since missing out on the 2022 Six Nations Grand Slam campaign. The second row is a little bit more difficult to call, with Paul Willemse’s partner difficult to call. It was former Loughborough fly-half Thibaud Flament in the Six Nations earlier this year.

But that was only because Racing 92 star Cameron Woki was ruled out of the tournament through injury. With Woki back in the fold, it is difficult to pick who will partner Willemse in the second row. The 9-10 combination is easy to pick, arguably the best partnership in the world.

The centres should really pick themselves, with Jonathan Danty showing his destructiveness for La Rochelle over the last few years. The most experienced man in the squad Gael Fickou will be at 13. Damian Penaud will look to his impressive scoring from the wing at the world cup.

The other side of the wing is difficult to pick. 22 year old Ethan Dumortier was used heavily in the Six Nations earlier this year, but Toulon winger Gabin Villiere offers an exciting option in both attack and defence. Thomas Ramos will not only start at fullback, but also be the team’s goalkicker at this tournament.

1.Cyril Baille- Toulouse

2.Julien Marchand- Toulouse

3.Uini Atonio- La Rochelle

4.Paul Willemse- Montpellier

5.Cameron Woki- Racing 92

6.Francois Cros- Toulouse

7.Charles Ollivon- Toulon

8.Gregory Aldritt- La Rochelle

9.Antoine Dupont- Toulouse

10.Romain Ntamack- Toulouse

11.Gabin Villiere- Toulon

12.Jonathan Danty- La Rochelle

13.Gael Fickou- Racing 92

14.Damian Penaud- Clermont

15.Thomas Ramos- Toulouse

Players to look out for

I won’t spend too much time talking about Antoine Dupont, because the French captain is undoubtedly not only the star of this French side, but the biggest superstar in the tournament. He is going to produce a few highlights at this tournament and will be crucial to the French team’s chances.

But there are a lot of guys outside of Dupont who will play a huge part at this tournament. While Antoine Dupont seems like the most obvious French player under the most pressure, Thomas Ramos has arguably the most responsibility of any French player.

For the last 12 months in particular, Ramos has been the goalkicker for this French side. We have seen goalkicking making the difference in many different world cups. France are going to score a lot of points, as well as having a dominant pack which can win penalties against almost anyone.

So these points need to be converted and that will be the job of Ramos. His last game for France was pretty much perfect, nailing all seven of his kicks against Wales in the final game of the Six Nations. But with the French crowd having such big expectations, misses will add up quite quickly.

Similarly, Jonathan Danty will be under a huge amount of pressure. Frances attack is built on physicality and while there are no doubts about their forward pack, Danty is going to need to be the main attacking weapon in the backs. He is certainly going to be used a lot by France and will certainly be a man to look out for.

Damian Penaud will be equally as important to the French team. No one in this French side can beat a man as well as the Clermont winger. Having been the top scorer in the Six Nations earlier this year, there is a very good chance that Penaud will be the tournament’s top scorer by the end of the competition.

Considering how set and steady this French team is, there is no obvious world cup bolters who could make a big impact out of nowhere. There have been four uncapped player’s involved in the first training camp for the tournament, with it unlikely any of them play a massive role at this tournament.

How do France win this tournament

Mainly down to the draw for the tournament happening three years ago, France are on the more difficult side of the tournament. They are going to have to beat two of Ireland, South Africa or New Zealand just to reach the semi-finals.

The pool stage begins with the first game of the entire tournament, with France having to face three-time world champions New Zealand. Things get a whole lot easier after that, with Italy, Namibia and Uruguay the other games in the pool. France should be able to cruise through to the quarter-final stage.

But that quarter-final game could be the most difficult one of the entire tournament for France. The odds would say France will face Ireland or South Africa in the quarter-finals. France need a physically dominating performance to get past either of these teams.

If France can get past these teams, their present is a much easier semi-final game, most likely against one of England, Argentina, Fiji or Wales. None of these teams can match up to France and it should be a great way for France to advance to the final.

The home advantage that France have is going to be massive for this team. It is one of the reasons why they are the favourites for the tournament. France have not lost at home in more two years and that seems unlikely to end anytime soon.

Frances’s chance of winning the Rugby World Cup in 2023

The large majority of betting sites have France as the favourites for the title and for good reason. Being the hosts of the tournament is such a big advantage to this French team. If you ever watch a Top 14 game, you will see just how much the French crowd plays a part in deciding a winner.

These French fans will be even more excited for the tournament because they have the team to win it all. France have physicality upfront that is almost unmatched in the world, as well as being able to rely on the best player in the world to get them out of bad spots.

The discipline problems that have hurt previous French sides could be the issue, as it was in the Six Nations earlier this year. But there is no better chance for France to win their first Rugby World Cup than right now.

Predicted finish for Rugby World Cup 2023: Winner

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