osts France will be overwhelming favourites to make it two wins out of two at the Rugby World Cup when they battle Uruguay in Pool A on Thursday night, despite making sweeping changes to their team.
Les Bleus made a tremendous start on opening evening as they search for a first Webb Ellis Cup triumph at their home tournament this autumn, coming out on top against the mighty All Blacks at a rocking Stade de France.
Tries from Damian Penaud and Melvyn Jaminet plus the trusty boot of Thomas Ramos meant Fabien Galthie’s side won 27-13 in a pulsating clash in Paris, cancelling out a pair of scores from New Zealand wing Mark Telea.
It was a significant statement of title intent from France as they plot a clear course through to the quarter-finals on the stacked half of a lopsided draw after an iffy build-up dominated by injuries and the controversial call-up of Bastien Chalureau, but one that came at a cost with another starter lost.
They will now be expected to emphatically put to the sword a Uruguay team that will be playing their first game of the 2023 tournament, having sat out the opening weekend.
This is a fifth World Cup overall and third in a row for Los Teros, who have never advanced beyond the pool stage but won three games so far – against Fiji in 2019, Georgia in 2003 and Spain in 1999.
Esteban Meneses’ side – ranked 17th in the world – sealed their place in France by overturning a three-point first-leg deficit against the USA in October 2021 to qualify as Americas 1.
Date, kick-off time and venue
France vs Uruguay will take place on Thursday September 14, 2023, with kick-off scheduled for 8pm BST. That is 9pm local time.
The Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille will host the match.
Where to watch France vs Uruguay
TV channel: In the UK, Thursday’s game will be broadcast live and free to air on ITV4, with coverage starting at 7:15pm.
Live stream: Fans can also catch the action live online via the ITVX website and app.
Live blog: Follow the game as it happens with Standard Sport’s dedicated live match blog.
France vs Uruguay team news
France were already without starting fly-half Romain Ntamack, influential lock Paul Willemse and loosehead prop Cyril Baille against the All Blacks, plus powerful centre Jonathan Danty, with that casualty list only growing further after a hugely physical affair in Paris. Ntamack and Willemse are out for the whole tournament.
Hooker Julien Marchand suffered a hamstring injury early in the opener, with Peato Mauvaka deputising admirably in his absence. It remains to be seen when he or Baille might return, though both front-row forwards remain with Galthie’s squad as things stand.
Pierre Bourgarit gets the No2 shirt against Uruguay as France ring the changes with 12 in total, with flanker Anthony Jelonch captaining the side on his first appearance since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the Six Nations win against Scotland back in February.
Only centre Yoram Moefana, wing Gabin Villiere and lock Cameron Woki retain their starting berths from the victory over New Zealand, with still no Danty despite initial suggestions that he was likely to return from injury this week.
Controversial call-up Bastien Chalureau is on the bench, but there’s a complete rest for the likes of inspirational captain Antoine Dupont and star back-rower Gregory Alldritt.
Thankfully for Uruguay, star scrum-half Santiago Arata – who plays his club rugby in France with Castres – is fit and starts after undergoing surgery on a broken finger in July.
France vs Uruguay lineups
France XV: Jaminet; Bielle-Biarrey, Vincent, Moefana, Villiere; Hastoy, Lucu; Gros, Bourgarit, Aldegheri; Woki, Taofifenua; Boudehent, Macalou, Jelonch (c)
Replacements: Mauvaka, Wardi, Falatea, Chalureau, Flament, Cros, Couilloud, Ramos
Uruguay XV: Amaya; Basso, Inciarte, Vilaseca (c), Freitas; Etcheverry, Arata; Diana, Civetta, Ardao, Leindekar, Aliaga, Peculo, Pujadas, Sanguinetti
Replacements: Gattas, Benitez, Piussi, Dotti, Bianchi, Deus, Ormaechea, Berchesi
France vs Uruguay referee
New Zealand’s Ben O’Keeffe will be the man in the middle on Thursday, supported by assistants Paul Williams and James Doleman plus TMO Ben Whitehouse.
France vs Uruguay prediction
Tough and determined Uruguay are no pushovers or strangers to this stage and they will be hopeful of adding to their trio of World Cup wins this year.
They are behind Argentina as the second-best side in the Americas, but will surely be brushed aside with ease by both France and a wounded All Blacks team in Pool A. Both games will purely be an exercise in damage limitation from the outset.
Meneses will be pragmatic and know full well that the meeting with Namibia in Lyon on September 27 represents by far their best chance of victory in an otherwise very tricky group, having beaten the Welwitschias 26-18 in a World Cup warm-up clash in Montevideo only last month.
Uruguay also saw off an Argentina XV and narrowly edged out World Cup debutants Chile, having been bested by Georgia last autumn. In the summer, they lost twice to Japan and split a pair of matches against Romania, having stubbornly only lost 17-10 to Italy in Parma the previous year.
This will be an inevitable shellacking to boost French confidence and belief even further, but Uruguay won’t lose heart.
France to win, by 30 points.
Head to head (h2h) history and results
This is the first time that these two countries have ever squared off in a competitive game of rugby union.
France vs Uruguay latest odds
France to win: 1/100
Uruguay to win: 50/1
Odds via Betfair (subject to change).