Wesley Fofana
Wesley Fofana has recovered from a thigh injury to face Romania in France's second Pool D clash. AFP

Minnows Romania begin their 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign on 23 September with a difficult Pool D meeting against France at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

Where to watch

France vs Romania kicks off at 8pm BST. Live coverage is available on ITV HD and BBC Radio Five Live.


France approach their second World Cup fixture still reeling from the loss of key man Yoann Huget. The Toulouse wing suffered a torn cruciate ligament in his right knee during the 56th minute of a convincing, if somewhat scrappy 32-10, opening victory over Italy at Twickenham on 19 September and has since been replaced, somewhat surprisingly, in Philippe Saint-Andre's squad by the uncapped Remy Grosso of Castres.

With just three days to prepare for this clash, France have understandably rung the changes against a team they are expected to beat comfortably but of whom they will no doubt be wary following Japan's stunning victory over South Africa. Of the 15 players who started against the Azzurri, only number eight Louis Picamoles and Fijian-born Noa Nakaitaci retain their places.

Wesley Fofana returns to the fold to partner Gael Fickou at centre after recovering from a thigh injury, while Morgan Parra and Remi Tales are selected as the half-back pairing and hooker Dimitri Szarzewski is handed the captain's armband, as usual skipper Thierry Dusautoir is rested. Brice Dulin, Sofiane Guitoune, Alexandre Flanquart and Vincent Debaty are among the other names drafted in.

As for Romania, yet to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup despite appearing at every tournament since 1987 and who booked their place this year by finishing second to Georgia in European qualifying, veteran Welsh head coach Lynn Howells has named the most experienced tournament squad ever assembled by the Oaks.

Led by captain Mihai Macovei, they show one change from the side that recorded a 21-16 victory over Tonga in their final warm-up match in Bucharest on 5 September. Castres' tighthead prop Mihaita Lazar replaces Andrei Ursache.

Mihaita Lazar
Mihaita Lazar returns to Romania's front row AFP


France: 15. Dulin, 14. Guitoune, 13. Fickou, 12. Fofana, 11. Nakaitaci, 10. Talès, 9. Parra, 8. Picamoles, 7. Ouedraogo, 6. Nyanga, 5. Flanquart, 4. Le Roux, 3. Atonio, 2. Szarzewski (c), 1. Debaty

Replacements: 16. Kayser, 17. Ben Arous, 18. Mas, 19. Maestri, 20. Chouly, 21. Kockott, 22. Michalak, 23. Bastareaud

Romania: 15. Fercu, 14. Lemnaru, 13. Kinikinilau, 12. Vlaicu, 11. Apostol, 10. Dumbrava, 9. Surugiu, 8. Macovei (c), 7. Lucaci, 6. V Ursache, 5. Van Heerden, 4. Poparlan, 3. Ion, 2. Turashvili, 1. Lazar

Replacements: 16. Radoi, 17. A Ursache, 18. Pungea, 19. Tonita, 20. Burcea, 21. Calafeteanu, 22. Botezatu, 23. Gal

What the coaches say

Philippe Saint-Andre: "Playing four days after Italy, it was unthinkable to field the same team. When we built our squad, we took that under consideration. We had to be able to name a second team able to perform against a team who will be fully fresh for their first game.

"Remy is a good player, of course he is. He has been improving more and more at Castres, and I tell you if we had a post free for him before, then we would have taken him. We know he has good qualities, he is quick, he is a puncher and he is on the mark."

Lynn Howells: "The back line has pretty much picked itself with the experience they have, the forwards however have given me more of a headache. The first game is always the most important and the lads I've picked are in the best shape and used to playing at the top level."

Philippe Saint Andre
Philippe Saint Andre has defended his selection of Remy Grosso as a replacement for the injured Yoann Huget. AFP

Other fixtures

14:30 BST: Scotland v Japan (Kingsholm)

16:45 BST: Australia v Fiji (Millennium Stadium)