France vs South Africa : South Africa continue their November tour of Europe as they stop in Paris for a clash against France at the Stade de France on Saturday.
International Rugby 2018
Satusrday, November 10, 2018
France vs South Africa Live
Time : 3:00 PM ET
A one-off Test is always important but when France and South Africa line up in Paris on Saturday (kick-off 7.45pm), winning on the night will not be the only item on the agenda.
Both sides will have one eye on the next World Cup in Japan which is now just 10 months away. Both coaches, the highly-experienced Jacques Brunel and former Bok flanker Rassie Erasmus, have come into their jobs in the last 12 months, taking over teams that were struggling with identity and results.
Their task is to mould two sides that can challenge the All Blacks in Japan. Brunel would appear to have the bigger challenge; he replaced Guy Noves last December, and since then France have won just two of his eights Tests in charge.
“We are looking for the spine,” said Brunel referring to the traditional backbone of hooker, No 8, half-backs and full-back. In those five positions, only the hooker Guilhem Guirado looks a certainty for the World Cup.
“Guirado is the captain so that’s a vote of confidence,” said Brunel. “We want him to prove that he is immovable in his position.”
That means there will be plenty of scrutiny on the rest of the spine, all of whom are returning to the side after time away either through suspension, injury or lack of form.
The experienced trio of Willie le Roux, Faf de Klerk and Franco Mostert are back in the Springbok starting team for Saturday’s Test against France at the Stade de France in Paris.
The match in the French capital is South Africa’s second fixture of their year-end to the United Kingdom and France and kicks off at 22:05 (SA time).
The inclusion of Le Roux, De Klerk and Mostert – with close to 100 Test caps between them – are the only changes announced by coach Rassie Erasmus to the run-on team when he confirmed the Springbok match-23 on Thursday.
Le Roux takes over the No 15 duties from Damian Willemse while De Klerk comes in at scrumhalf to replace Ivan van Zyl, with the rest of the backline kept unchanged.
Mostert replaces Eben Etzebeth, who sustained a foot injury in last weekend’s 12-11 loss to England at Twickenham, in the only change to the pack.
It is the hosts’ season opener, while the Springboks are looking to bounce back from a disappointing result after being narrowly beaten by England at Twickenham last week.
While the defeat will still be fresh in the visitors’ minds, France did not fare too well in their last outing either, as they failed to win a single Test in their tour to New Zealand in June, which ended in a 3-0 series win to the world champions. This stretched their losing streak to four-matches, with their last victory coming in the Six Nations at home to England in March.
In a bid to return to winning ways, coach Jacques Brunel has called on the experienced head of Louis Picamoles, who slots in at number eight for the first time in national colours in over a year, while flyhalf Camille Lopez also returns to the starting line-up after an injury-ravaged 18 months.
His South African counterpart, Rassie Erasmus has also injected some much-needed experience in his starting XV, particularly in the backline, where Wille le Roux and Faf de Klerk return in place of Damian Willemse and Ivan van Zyl, who both made run-on debuts against England.
There is a single, yet significant, change among the forwards where Eben Etzebeth drops out of the matchday 23 completely after breaking down injured at Twickenham. His place in the side is taken by Gloucester lock Franco Mostert.
The two sides will also be renewing rivalries, having squared off in South Africa in June last year, where the Springboks completed a whitewash over Le Bleus, before edging them in their own backyard almost a year to the day.