France v. Australia – Flog a Frog!

Shane Sullivan November 9, 2012 18

No GravatarHere’s what I know about France:

I need some RIGHT NOW

  • French Onion soup is delicious.
  • Chocolate croissants are awesome.
  • John Eales doesn’t like it when the French massage his groin.
  • We beat them by a cricket score last game.
  • And they play rugby. Lots of rugby. A shitload of rugby. In fact, they play a 124-game season every year!*

So I’m the obvious choice to preview the State de France Test this weekend, right? Yeah right.

Luckily there have been four great articles on French rugby by four guys who do know something about it this week on our website. Check them out here, here and here, and a preview of the game with a French flavour here.

After a quick read I’m know the most knowledgeable person in the world on French rugby who is also writing this post. Here’s what I found out.

  • They have a good front row, but the tighthead, Nicolas Mas, has been injured a won’t last the game.
  • They’ve had a disrupted preparation, losing second rower Yoann Maestri late. But his replacement Jocelino Suta is no mug.
  • They’ve picked two lightweight flankers who both play an ‘on ball’ game and will be trying to pilfer/disrupt our ball.
  • The halves, Maxime Machenaud and Frederic Michalak, have played together before.
  • They’ve picked a capable midfield and a strong back three who love to run.

That doesn’t sound like a team that’s going to get dusted by 40 points, does it? And you can bet they’ve mentioned that game a hundred times this week. Add Armistice Day into the equation and you’re looking at a pretty capable and fired up bunch of players.

Australia has a fair bit at stake on this tour as well.

  • World Cup seedings are on the table, for starters.
  • And we’re their bogey team. We beat them a lot. But that means they try harder to beat us and we try harder not to lose.
  • Robbie Deans has a contract renewal coming in a few months.
  • The players have Lions tour spots to play for.

And we know what we’re going to get from our team. Sure, there’s talk of a new game plan, but the gyys just aren’t there to deliver it. Apart from Kurtley Beale and a hint of promise from Ben Tapuai none of the guys in our backline are going to rip apart an international rugby team. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re all fine players. But they’re not X-factor players. I expect it will be ‘business as usual’ for Australia, who will try and grind the French into the ground and pick up penalties to win the game.

You can see the French counter in their team selection. The two terriers on the side of the scrum will chase the ball all game and be a general menace at our ruck and maul. They have the tall timber to disrupt our lineout and the technique to upset our scrum. If we try to kick for territory they have the option to run well and kick long. It’s a good plan.

But they’ve only had a week to put it together. Not nearly long enough to perfect a complicated plan. Not long enough for intricate backline moves or for combinations to form in the forwards.

Our guys have been forged into a side by the pressures of The Rugby Championship. They come into this Test battle-hardened — it’s their 12th Test of the year. And I think this is our major advantage. Six TRC/Bledisloe games have to give you a edge. We have to have our patterns right. We have a backline move. I’ve seen it. We can defend like no one else. It won’t be pretty, it won’t even be plain Jane. It’ll be as ugly as the ugliest thing in a bag full of ugly at the Ugly Museum, but it will be a win and that’s never ugly.

Australia by 5.

Them:

Starting XV: 1. Yannick Forestier (Castres) – 2. Dimitri Szarzewski (Racing Métro 92) – 3. Nicolas Mas (Perpignan) – 4. Pascal Pape (Stade Français) – 5. Yoann Maestri (Toulouse) – 6. Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse) – 7. Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier) – 8. Louis Picamolles (Toulouse) – 9. Maxime Machenaud (Racing Métro 92) – 10. Frederic Michalak (Toulon) – 11. Vincent Clerc (Toulouse) – 12. Maxime Mermoz (Toulon) – 13. Florian Fritz (Toulouse) – 14. Wesley Fofana (Clermont) – 15. Brice Dulin (Castres)

Reserves:

16. Benjamin Kayser (Clermont) – 17. Thomas Domingo (Clermont) – 18. Vincent Debaty (Clermont) – 19. Jocelino Suta (Toulon) – 20. Damien Chouly (Clermont) – 21. Morgan Parra (Clermont) – 22. François Trinh-Duc (Montpellier) – 22. Yoann Huget (Toulouse)

Us:

1. Benn Robinson, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3. Sekope Kepu, 4. Kane Douglas, 5. Nathan Sharpe, 6. Dave Dennis, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Wycliff Palu, 9. Nick Phipps, 10. Kurtley Beale, 11. Nick Cummins, 12. Pat McCabe, 13. Ben Tapuai, 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 15. Mike Harris

Reserves:

16. Stephen Moore, 17. James Slipper, 18. Paddy Ryan, 19. Rob Simmons, 20. Radike Samo, 21. Liam Gill, 22. Brett Sheehan, 23. Berrick Barnes

 

*Genuine GAGR mythical stat.

Discussion

  • http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/ Matt Rowley

    “We have a backline move. I’ve seen it. ”

    Pure gold

    • Steve Timms

      Yes. Great line.

    • Garry

      A beautiful thing. wasn’t it?

      (cue the music)

      Memmmmmories….

      ….brought to you by Telecom

  • http://twitter.com/JoelWynne JoelWynne

    You have Berrick Barnes as your cover on the bench from 10-15? Bwaaaahahahahaha, 2 backline injuries and who’s going to be the fullback? Radike Samo?

    • Alan H

      Phipps has played wing and fullback at Super level. Sheehan can come on. Or, Radike spent the first half of his career playing wing. Obviously two dads can drop back, and Samo go to wing. Really, no probs at all.

    • http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/ Matt Rowley

      Didn’t we actually choose to play him at 15 in one of our TRC games? Can’t remember which one – may have been the pounding in Pretoria

    • Garry

      JDog

      I like the sounds of Samo bringing it back in broken play. Your a visionary.

  • Madflyhalf

    France has the edge on front row, though Benn Robinson played quite well in his last 2 features, and probably in midfield: Maxime Mermoz is one of the finest midfielder in world rugby, Fritz is good (though a bit fragile and inconstant). Fofana could be dangerous if used among the backs, he runs great lines of support.

    France has also the edge on the bench, with Kayser, Domingo and Debaty (quite strange cause they’re 2 LH). And mostly in Parra & Trinh-Duc. Wallabies has Mr. Accidentalythere and Berrick “Footy” Barnes.

    But France has also some inexperienced guys like Dulin, Machenaud, Chouly, Fofana at wing, and Nyanga who’s a fine player but this is his first test since 2007!

    And Szarzewski is not a monster scrummager.

    If you look at the France of 2010 debacle, they had Porical at fullback alwas out of position and humbled by Wallabies kicking game, they had 3 (big old) guys playing different roles as usual (Traille moved from 12/15 to 10, Jauzion from 13 to 12, Rougerie 13 though he played there before).

    And if you watch SuperRugby, you know what relying on Freddy-Mic performances can bring to your team.

    He’s a genius, he’s talented, but he’s fragile too.

    I’m expecting a tough battle between 2 teams looking for their shape.

    France are looking for that because of a (quite) new coach, new players in the group, they MUST build their future from now or it’s gonna be too late. They really look like a war machine.

    The Wallabies are looking for a shape because of injuries that reduced the available “material” and off-field troubles, they showed guts and willing against Argentina and the All Blacks, they MUST continue to perform like that, copeing with those problems.

    It’s a 5 pointer match, though any blade of grass misplaced could transform it in a slaughter for any side.

    Don’t ask me who is to take this. “Unpredictability” is the key word tomorrow evening.

    • http://landoftheunit.wordpress.com/ Sully

      What a great comment. Thank you I always appreciate reading someone who knows their topic.

      • goldie

        huh what happen sully??? wallabies were monstered again!

        • http://landoftheunit.wordpress.com/ Sully

          It’s simple. We were shit and they were good. 10 minutes in I knew who would win.

  • Steve Timms

    Great write up.

    I thing I find interesting, we get the NH teams “tired after a long season” they get us “battle hardened after the RC”.

    I’ve tipped the Wallabies, but I don’t know why…

    • http://landoftheunit.wordpress.com/ Sully

      You know it makes sense!

  • pants

    Wow..we really suck.

  • bill

    France 2010 vs France 2012. Same coach. Very different approach. And the problems with that change in approach have been evident for all the intervening time.

    A popular definition of insanity is to keep repeating the same preconditions over and over again and expect a different result.

    • http://landoftheunit.wordpress.com/ Sully

      And we keep doing the same thing over and over and over!

  • Canuckruck

    Wow….well the French are very happy right now

    • goldie

      yes and the rest of the rugby community in stiches…

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