Remy Grosso
Castres wing Remy Grosso will win his first French cap in the Pool D clash against Canada in Milton Keynes AFP

France will be hoping to secure a third consecutive win at the 2015 Rugby World Cup as they face Pool D rivals Canada in what is the first match of the tournament to be staged at Stadium mk in Milton Keynes.

Where to watch

France v Canada kicks off at 8pm BST on Thursday 1 October. Live coverage is available on ITV HD and BBC Radio Five Live.


Despite suffering the disappointment of losing star wing Yoann Huget to a cruciate ligament injury, France have so far been relatively untroubled during their quest to reach a fourth World Cup final. Philippe Saint-Andre's often unpredictable side, who finished fourth at this year's Six Nations Championship after a thrilling final day at Twickenham, were met with little resistance by familiar foes Italy in their Pool D opener and made 13 changes for the slightly laborious 38-11 bonus-point victory over Romania in which it took Les Bleus a little longer than they would have expected to click into gear.

In preparation for a different test against Canada, Saint-Andre has made 12 further alterations. Only centre Wesley Fofana, Brice Dulin and Bernard le Roux keep their respective places, with the latter shifting from the second row to flanker and Dulin lining up on the wing instead of at full-back.

The imposing Mathieu Bastareaud returns at 13 in place of Gael Fickou, while the first-choice half-back pairing of Sebastien Tillous-Borde and Frederic Michalak replace Morgan Parra and Remi Tales. The entire front row is changed as Eddy Ben Arous, Guilhem Guirado and Rabah Slimani all return, while Pascal Pape partners Yoann Maestri at lock and captain Thierry Dusautoir lines up on the blindside.

Perhaps the most intriguing selection comes on the right wing, where France opt for Remy Grosso. The Castres man was called into the 31-man squad as an injury replacement for Huget last month and has yet to win a single senior international cap for his country, although Saint-Andre has expressed confidence in his abilities and believes that the 26-year-old has integrated well. Louis Picamoles and Noa Nakaitaci are both rested.

As for fourth-placed Canada, who recorded their only win against the French 21 years ago, they will surely be hurting from their failure to win a first World Cup match since their 25-20 victory over Tonga in 2011 despite twice holding the lead against Italy. After being blown away by Ireland on opening weekend, tries from DTH van der Merwe and Matt Evans almost saw the Canucks spring a shock only for Gonzalo Garcia's effort and some stout defending to deny them late on.

Kieran Crowley, a former All-Black and one of seven New Zealanders occupying head coaching roles at the 2015 World Cup, has freshened his starting XV with several changes from the team that produced a valiant effort at Elland Road, with Phil Mack deputising for Jamie Mackenzie at scrum-half and Nick Blevins coming in for Connor Braid in midfield after the former Glasgow Warriors centre suffered a broken jaw and concussion last time out before being replaced in the squad by Patrick Parfrey. London Irish forward Jebb Sinclair, Ray Barkwill, Nanyak Dala and John Moonlight are replaced by Aaron Carpenter, Brett Beukeboom, Kyle Gilmour and Richard Thorpe respectively.

Phil Mack
Canada's Phil Mack comes in for the injured Jamie Mackenzie at scrum-half Getty


France: 15. Spedding, 14. Grosso, 13. Bastareaud, 12. Fofana, 11. Dulin, 10. Michalak, 9. Tillous-Borde, 8. Chouly, 7. Le Roux, 6. Dusautoir (c), 5. Maestri, 4. Pape, 3. Slimani, 2. Guirado, 1. Ben Arous

Replacements: 16. Kayser, 17. Debaty, 18. Mas, 19. Nyanga, 20. Ouedraogo, 21. Parra, 22. Tales, 23. Dumoulin

Canada: 15. Evans, 14. P Mackenzie, 13. Hearn, 12. Blevins, 11. Van der Merwe, 10. Hirayama, 9. Mack, 8. Ardron (c), 7. Thorpe, 6. Gilmour, 5. Cudmore, 4. Beukeboom, 3. Wooldridge, 2. Carpenter, 1. Buydens

Replacements: 16. Barkwill, 17. Sears-Duru, 18. Tiedemann, 19. Olmstead, 20. Dala, 21. McRorie, 22. Jones, 23. Trainor

What the coaches say

Philippe Saint-Andre: "We have four wins in a row and are keen to get a fifth. We've had some quality practices this week, made progress in rucks and in the contact. With the high number of rucks per match we need to be more precise in them. Canada have good, fast backs. They are one of the countries that have taken strongly to sevens from when the sport became Olympic, they have great athletes.

"Remy has settled very well into the squad, he's trained very well and I'm expecting him to score tries, like a winger does. Dulin is a great player and a great competitor. He wins his tackles."

Kieran Crowley: "To be honest, it was pretty gutting, afterwards they were pretty down for a fair while — which is natural. It's not so much disappointment now but just the realization that it was there for us if we had performed a little bit better in a couple of areas. I think we're starting to get over the hump and hopefully come game time against France, we'll be excited about getting back out there and trying to do it again.

"That's the biggest challenge when you have short turnarounds, the mental side of it. You put a lot into it physically, but you also put a lot into it mentally. When I was involved in Test match rugby it used to take me about a week to come back down before I was ready to go again. We had training at Leicester Grammar School, lunch with the school, and then an assembly, so hopefully those sorts of things help freshen the mental side a little bit."

Vincent Clerc
Vincent Clerc scored a hat-trick of tries during France's 46-19 win over Canada at the 2011 World Cup Getty

Other fixtures

France v Canada is one of two World Cup matches scheduled to take place on 1 October, with injury-hit Wales looking to follow up their memorable victory over hosts England last weekend against a Fiji side missing the services of Nemani Nadolo after the imposing wing was hit with a one-match ban following an ill-advised tip tackle during the 28-13 defeat to Australia in Cardiff. Reigning champions New Zealand meet Georgia on Friday night.