AUTHOR: William Kedjanyi

STAR RUGBY PREVIEW Thu: France v Uruguay

France kick-started the Rugby World Cup in style with their 27-13 win over New Zealand last Friday and few will be expecting anything less than a resounding victory against Uruguay on Thursday.

Last week was the perfect start for the hosts, who are ? to win the Webb Ellis trophy, and Fabien Galthie has unsurprisingly opted to make 12 changes to the starting XV that came out on top in a ferocious encounter last week.

Only Cameron Woki, Gabin Villiere and Yoram Moefana keep their place, whilst Anthony Jelonch will captain his country as he makes his return from injury. It will be very interesting to see how Jeloch, who captained France on their tour to Australia in 2021 and played in all five of France’s Grand Slam wins in 2022, performs along with several new combinations and young talents as France shuffle their pack and test their depth fully through the pool stages.

Les Bleus have a new front-row of Jean-Baptiste Gross (loosehead prop), Pierre Bourgarit (hooker) and Dorian Aldegheri (tighthead prop) along with a new halfback pairing of Maxime Lucu and Antoine Hastoy whilst Arthur Vincent joins Yoram Moefana in the centres.

France may not be as cohesive as punters expect, although the strength in depth available to the hosts is exceptional after years of preparation.

France v Uruguay
Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille
Pool A, 2023 Rugby World Cup
Live on ITV 4 HD and ITV X from 7.15pm

(Maximum 10 matches)

First competitive meeting between teams.

Uruguay famously managed to upset Fiji at the 2019 World Cup but they still finished bottom of the pool then and there’s understandably little talk about an upset this time round. Uruguay do come into the tournament with winning form, beating Chile 26-25 and winning 26-18 against Pool rivals Namibia before beating an Argentina XV 33-13.

Those results – and the cohesion which comes from two Uruguayan club sides in Penarol and Old Boys supplying most of the squad – should give Los Teros confidence ahead of their start, although Chile’s 42-12 loss to Japan and Nambia’s 52-8 defeat to Italy shows the gulf in class on paper between the two sides.

The task they face is underlined by the fact they receive a 53.5-point start with, and some will be keen to take that but caution is needed.

Uruguay covered big handicaps against Wales and Australia in 2019 and also beat all four handicaps in their 2015 games, and it’s possible France may take time to hit their stride with so many changes made to the starting XV. However, the strength in depth combined with home advantage should see the hosts make it two from two without too much fuss. France are currently 7/2 with to win by 41-50 points with, and that could give punters a decent run for their money.

Those who fancy the visitors to do well should look at visiting scrum-half Santiago Arata, a superstar scrumhalf for Castres in the Top 14 who is likely to be the key tryscoring threat for the visitors if they can make their mark.


🇫🇷 France: 15. Melvyn Jaminet, 14. Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 13. Arthur Vincent, 12. Yoram Moefana, 11. Gabin Villiere, 10. Antoine Hastoy, 9. Maxime Lucu, 8. Anthony Jelonch (c), 7. Sekou Macalou, 6. Paul Boudehent, 5. Romain Taofifenua, 4. Cameron Woki, 3. Dorian Aldegheri, 2. Pierre Bourgarit , 1. Jean-Baptiste Gros

Replacements: 16. Peato Mauvaka, 17. Reda Wardi, 18. Sipili Falatea, 19. Bastien Chalureau, 20. Thibaud Flament, 21. Francois Cros, 22. Baptiste Couilloud, 23. Thomas Ramos

🇺🇾 Uruguay: 15. Baltazar Amaya, 14. Bautista Basso, 13. Tomas Inciarte, 12. Andres Vilaseca (c), 11. Nicolas Freitas, 10. Felipe Etcheverry, 9. Santiago Arata, 8. Manuel Diana, 7. Santiago Civetta, 6. Manuel Ardao, 5. Manuel Leindekar, 4. Felipe Aliaga, 3. Ignacio Peculo, 2. Guillermo Pujadas, 1. Mateo Sanguinetti

Replacements: 16. Facundo Gattas, 17. Matias Benitez, 18. Reinaldo Piussi, 19. Ignacio Dotti, 20. Lucas Bianchi, 21. Carlos Deus, 22. Agustin Ormaechea, 23. Felipe Berchesi


BACK France to win by 41-50 points 1 pt at 7/2 with  (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

PROFIT/LOSS (SEPTEMBER 2023): 0.49 points



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