France coach Fabien Galthié is not taking any risks with this match, making 12 changes to the side that struggled to get the better of a spirited Uruguay last Thursday.
He’s selected a strong 23 for this match, including Cyril Baille and Jonathan Danty who are both eager for game time on their return from injury, and Antoine Dupont, who has yet to lose a match at home since taking over as captain. Only Cameron Woki, Louis Bielle Biarry, and Anthony Jelonch retain their spots in the starting line-up from Lille – and the latter would have moved to the flank but for a slight injury concern over Grégory Alldritt.
The Welwitschias, meanwhile, have conceded 123 points and 18 tries in their two matches to date at Rugby World Cup 2023, managing only one try and 11 points of their own in reply.
FIXTURE: France v Namibia
GROUND: Stade de Marseille (67,847)
KICK-OFF: 21:00 local time (GMT+2)
Current France team manager Raphaël Ibañez will maintain an unlikely record when the match kicks off in Marseille.
He was captain in 1999, when France played Namibia for the first time, and he was on the bench for their second meeting eight years later, at Toulouse – when Vincent Clerc scored a hat-trick in an 87-10 victory.
Although he’s not involved directly on the pitch this time, France 2023 continues his run of being involved in every match between the two sides over a 24-year period.
As well as the 2007 match in Toulouse, France and Namibia met at RWC 1999 in Bordeaux. As well as Ibañez’s involvement, current Toulouse manager Ugo Mola scored a hat-trick from full-back. Former France coach Marc Lievrement started in the back-row, and Romain Ntamack’s father Emile was on the wing.
KEY TALKING POINT
Les Bleus’ squad for this match. Squad rotation is very much the name of the game here, but Galthié and France expected a convincing, bonus-point win over Uruguay in Lille. What unfolded was not convincing, nor did it come with a try-scoring bonus.
That means, although France still hold their Rugby World Cup destiny in their hands, suddenly there’s no room for error in their final two matches, here against Namibia, or against Italy in Lyon on 6 October.
All of which, in turn, explain that France squad. They could do with points, and they have a good-sized break ahead of their next match.
Gaël Fickou v Johan Deysel. Two experienced no-backward-step centres go head to head in the middle of the pitch in Marseille.
In losing 58-14 to New Zealand in their opening game at RWC 2015, Namibia – a nation still looking for their first tournament win after 24 matches to date – brought up the unwanted record of conceding 1,000 points at Rugby World Cups. Only four other teams have done so: USA, Canada, Romania and Japan.
Matthew Carley (England). This is Carley’s second match as a Rugby World Cup referee after being a reserve at the tournament in Japan four years ago. His first match was the epic encounter between Wales and Fiji in Bordeaux on the first weekend of the competition.
FRANCE Thomas Ramos; Damian Penaud, Gaël Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Louis Bielle-Biarrey; Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Dupont (captain); Cyril Baille, Peato Mauvaka, Uini Atonio; Cameron Woki, Thibaud Flament; François Cros, Charles Ollivon, Anthony Jelonch
Replacements: Pierre Bourgarit, Reda Wardi, Dorian Aldegheri, Romain Taofifenua, Paul Boudehent, Baptiste Couilloud, Yoram Moefana, Melvyn Jaminet
NAMIBIA Andre van der Bergh; Gerswin Mouton, Johan Deysel (captain), Danco Burger, JC Greyling; Cliven Loubser, Jacques Theron; Desiderius Sethie, Louis van der Westhuizen, Johan Coetzee; Mahepisa Tjeriko, Adriaan Ludick; Max Katjijeko, Johan Retief, Prince Gaoseb
Replacements: Obert Nortje, Jason Benade, Haitembu Shifuka, PJ Van Lill, Richard Hardwick, Oela Blaauw, Alcino Izaacs, Divan Rossouw