France look for more polish against Namibia in raucous Marseille

September 21, 2023 6:01 am

[Source: Reuters]

France may be overwhelming favourites for victory in their Rugby World Cup Pool A fixture with Namibia in Marseille, but it is a chance to work on tactical plans and get minutes into the legs of several players, flanker Charles Ollivon says.

France opened their campaign with a 27-13 victory over New Zealand, but then stumbled their way to a 27-12 success against lowly Uruguay, which drew some stinging criticism, not least from within the team.

Coach Fabien Galthie has recalled his big guns for the Namibia fixture, including prop Cyril Baille, who will get his first minutes of the tournament after injuring his calf against Scotland last month.

Article continues after advertisement

“It has been a roller-coaster ride for me,” Baille told reporters on Wednesday. “There was a lot of stress when I was first injured. When you have an injury before a World Cup, it is always a negative.

“But I started training again this week and we took the decision together I would play tomorrow. I feel physically ready and am not afraid (of a recurrence). I am more excited than scared.”

Number eight Gregory Alldritt is rested after picking up an injury in training this week, but team officials confirmed on Wednesday he is back in training.

Ollivon starts in a new look back row that includes Francois Cros and number eight Anthony Jelonch, and says it is important they nail their plans with bigger tests to come.

“We are building and must give 100% to do the things we have worked on the whole week, be clear in our game and clear on what we are doing,” Ollivon said.

“There is some pressure (to put in a strong performance). We need to play, (most of these players) didn’t play last week, so we are happy to be back.”

Ollivon believes the raucous atmosphere in the Stade de Marseille will provide quite the spectacle.

“In November (last year) against South Africa we could not hear each other speak,” he said. “Sometimes this stadium trembles with all the emotion (from the fans). We really want to have a good game in this atmosphere.”