Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s coverage of tonight’s Rugby World Cup pool, a clash between hosts France and underdogs Uruguay at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille.
France top the group after beating New Zealand on a historic opening night in front of a sold-out Stade de France.
Fabien Galthié’s side will look to put on a show for their home crowd this evening, but will keep an eye on Italy, the only remaining team likely to pose a threat for their first flawless group stage match in 20 years.
With that in mind, Galthié made 12 changes to the starting XV that beat the All Blacks, with only second row Cameron Woki, winger Gabin Villière and outside center Yoram Moefana retained.
Number 8 Anthony Jelonch captains the side in his first match in almost seven months after rupturing his ACL during the Six Nations. Meanwhile, winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey becomes the youngest French player in the World Cup at 20 years and 87 days, eclipsing Romain Ntamack’s record.
Uruguay get their tournament off to an unexpected start by leading New Zealand in Pool A on points difference. How long this will last is another matter…
Four years ago, Los Teros shocked the world by beating Fiji 30-27 in one of the big upsets of the tournament. Tonight, 11 holdovers from the 2019 campaign line up in the starting XV as Uruguay go in search of a fourth World Cup victory.
Five of the 23rd squad will be playing at their rugby club in France, including Castres scrum-half Santiago Arata, who recovered from a broken hand in May to start his first test since November 2021.
Los Teros’ main goal in the group is to beat Italy and Namibia to seal direct qualification for the next World Cup, but winger Ignacio Facciolo said they will also battle against France and New Zealand.
“We are not ruling out games against France and New Zealand,” Facciolo said. “We are going to face them on an equal footing and we are going to win. Uruguay will never give up a match as a lost cause.
French hooker Pierre Bourgarit also emphasizes that Les Bleues will take this match seriously. “I want to give everything. We know very well that Uruguay is a strong team that will rely on the fundamentals of the game,” he said.
“They also have very good players at the back. They have enough collective experience. This is why we are not taking this match lightly. We want to play a complete and serious match.