Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup Quick Hits: France to topple New Zealand in huge opener

Damian Penaud
Damian Penaud is a major attacking threat for France

The Rugby World Cup starts with an explosive clash between hosts France and New Zealand with Simon Mail offering his verdict on the opener...

  • France face massive challenge in Paris

  • All Blacks look to put down marker

  • Hosts hold the edge in showdown

France v New Zealand
Friday, 20:15
Live on ITV

High expectations on France

The Rugby World Cup launches on Friday night with a mouthwatering showdown between hosts France and New Zealand in Paris. Two of the tournament favourites collide at the Stade de France in a huge opener with fireworks likely.

France have developed one of the outstanding attacking games in the world over the last few years, featuring prolific finisher Damian Penaud, with Fabien Galthie's young team winning the 2022 Six Nations grand slam. Second place behind Ireland this year was solid preparation but the loss of fly-half Romain Ntamack to a knee injury is a blow.

Much will depend on the brilliance of scrum-half Antoine Dupont in masterminding their World Cup challenge.

All Blacks search for statement win

New Zealand are always a factor on the biggest stage and the [4.3] tournament favourites are targeting their fourth World Cup triumph. The All Blacks' attack is a threat to any team with wing Will Jordan holding an exceptional tryscoring strike rate.

But New Zealand were dismantled at Twickenham last month in their record 35-7 defeat against South Africa.

Their final warm-up match was an alarming result and highlights the All Blacks have weaknesses that can be exposed.

The betting suggests this will be extremely close with France marginal 5/6 favourites for victory. With the passionate home fans roaring them on, France can put down a major marker for the tournament with an opening win. The All Blacks may struggle to contain their opponents and France appeal to cover a one-point handicap.

Back France -1 to win @ 10/111.91

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