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Preview: France v Australia

Preview: France v Australia

Damian Penaud France

France welcome Australia to the Stade de France in the Summer Nations Series on Sunday in their final match before the World Cup opener in the same ground against the All Blacks.

The clash marks Les Bleus’ first visit to Paris in this Summer Nations Series, having won previous home matches against Scotland and Fiji in Saint Etienne and Nantes respectively.

They take on the Wallabies, still searching a first win under new coach Eddie Jones, in their first match on European soil this year.

The last time the sides met was a classic, Damian Penaud’s late try earning France a one-point success, and this could be another thriller.

Team news

France have rung the changes from the side that beat Fiji, with a virtually full-strength line-up for this one, led by skipper Antoine Dupont.

He will combine with Matthieu Jalibert in the half-backs, while Penaud will look to add to his fine try-scoring record on the wing, opposite Gabin Villière.

Sébastien Taofifenua has been named on the bench, despite not being included in France’s 33-man World Cup squad, as Fabien Galthié and his coaches try to lighten the load on the team’s loosehead props with Cyril Baille currently injured.

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Australia have also gone for a very strong side, led by new captain Will Skelton, with Taniela Tupou making his first Wallaby start since that clash in Paris last year.

Tate McDermott and Carter Gordon continue their half-back combination while Blake Schoupp and Issak Fines-Leleiwasa could make their debuts off the bench.

Ones to watch

With Romain Ntamack injured, the expectation was that Matthieu Jalibert would step into the fold at fly-half, and this is his first chance to do so.

Jalibert and Antoine Dupont started together regularly in 2021, when Ntamack was also injured, winning six of seven games, and will now be looking to get up to speed as a duo.

For Australia, a lot will rest on the form of Taniela Tupou. At his best, Tongan Thor is one of the most destructive props in the game, both in the tight and as a ball-carrier. However, a torn Achilles last November has kept him sidelined for most of 2023, and he limped off on his return to action during the Rugby Championship.

With Allan Alaalatoa ruled out of the World Cup, Tupou’s importance is even greater, so Eddie Jones will be keen to see his No.3 come through unscathed.

@autumnnationsseries Penaud le magicien libère le Stade de France! Penaud with the game winning try in the final minutes 💙😍 #AutumnNationsSeries #RivalriesReignited #ANS #Rugby #ForyouRugby #FYP #ForYou #allezlesbleus #FrenchRugby #Dupont #Penaud #France #TryTime #FRAvAUS ♬ original sound – Autumn Nations Series ⚡️

Stat attack

  • France have won two of their last three meetings with Australia, including the most recent win in Paris, but they have not won back-to-back matches against the Wallabies since 1993.
  • France have won 22 of their last 23 matches on home soil including 13 in a row – their longest-ever winning run. They have scored 30+ points in 11 of their last 12 home games, and their last seven in a row.
  • Australia won their most recent match on European soil (39-34 against Wales last November), and their last six matches in Europe have been decided by six points or fewer including four one-point margins.


France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gaël Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Gabin Villière, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Antoine Dupont (c); 1 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 2 Julien Marchand, 3 Uini Atonio, 4 Thibaud Flament, 5 Paul Willemse, 6 François Cros, 7 Charles Ollivon, 8 Grégory Alldritt

Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Sébastien Taofifenua, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Cameron Woki, 21 Paul Boudehent, 22 Baptiste Couilloud, 23 Melvyn Jaminet

Australia: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Suniasi Vunivalu, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Tate McDermott; 1 Angus Bell, 2 Dave Porecki, 3 Taniela Tupou, 4 Richie Arnold, 5 Will Skelton (c), 6 Tom Hooper, 7 Fraser McReight, 8 Rob Valetini

Replacements: 16 Matt Faessler, 17 Blake Schoupp, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Langi Gleeson, 22 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 23 Ben Donaldson


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