Antoine Dupont injured as France score record 96 points against Namibia

Antoine Dupont of France receives medical treatment following head contact with Johan Deysel of Namibia (not pictured) during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between France and Namibia at Stade Velodrome on September 21, 2023 in Marseille, France
Antoine Dupont received a nasty knock to the face early in the second half in Marseille - Getty Images/David Rogers

France face an anxious wait after Antoine Dupont went to hospital for scans on a suspected fracture to his “upper jawbone” following a head clash that saw Johan Deysel, his opposing captain, sent off in Marseille.

Dupont had conducted a dominant first half from the hosts, who had led Namibia 54-0 at the break and went on to record a 96-0 triumph, but was then involved in a sickening collision five minutes into the second period.

“We suspect there is a crack or fracture to the upper jawbone,” said Fabien Galthié, the France head coach. “Antoine has left for examinations. It has put a dampener on this match. We must wait for the examination [results] before moving forward. We must still enjoy this great victory.”

Raphaël Ibañez, France’s team manager, confirmed that Dupont would be subject to further assessments.

“We feel sorry for Antoine,” he said. “It just reminds us how dangerous it can be, head-to-head contact. Antoine got a big hit on his face and we will do some exams to make sure nothing is wrong with him. But he’s a strong guy and we can rely on his strength.”

Deysel, who had shot out of the defensive line to halt Dupont, was initially shown a yellow card by Matthew Carley. That sanction was upgraded swiftly after being sent to the bunker.

It is no exaggeration to say that the entire World Cup would be devastated by a serious injury to Dupont. As France skipper, and regarded as the best player in the world, he has been the poster-boy of this tournament.

Fabien Galthié’s team do not play again until their final pool match against Italy on October 6, though the worst case scenario of a facial fracture would surely make it difficult for Dupont to return, depending on its severity.

Poignantly, a dominant win had been sparked by Dupont, who was mesmeric before half-time. Galthié had recognised the need for impetus following an underwhelming win over Uruguay and selected an extremely strong side featuring Cyril Baille and Jonathan Danty. Their opponents could not cope.

The first period was book-ended by try-scoring kick-passes from Dupont, one with his right foot and the other with his left. Damian Penaud and Danty scored twice each, with Charles Ollivon finishing a flowing counter orchestrated by Matthieu Jalibert.

Thibaut Flament latched onto Anthony Jelonch’s offload before Dupont completed a phenomenal 40 minutes, scoring himself from Penaud’s break and then locating Louis Bielle Biarrey with a sumptuous chip.

Romain Ntamack, the exceptional fly-half who damaged knee ligaments during the summer, was a spectator at Stade Vélodrome in a reminder of France’s fearful depth. Namibia had gone close on the half-hour through Johan Retief, their openside flanker, yet succumbed to another thrashing.

Five minutes into the second half came the moment that overshadowed the evening. France secured a line-out and ran a wrap-around move, with Deysel standing tall to clatter Dupont. The nature of the head clash was accidental, but Deysel had remained upright and the red card was inevitable as soon as the offence was highlighted to Carley by Joy Neville, the television match official. Namibia had in fact scored a try, after Jalibert was intercepted, but that was chalked off before both Dupont and Deysel took their leave.

The rest of the game was understandably disjointed, though Dupont’s replacement, Baptiste Couilloud, was sparky and sniped over within moments of his arrival. He could well have a far bigger role over the coming months.

Penaud completed a hat-trick and Bielle-Biarrey, the 20-year-old preferred to Gabin Villière, on the left wing, brought France past the 70-point mark. Ollivon, a prolific back-rower, continued the rout with 10 minutes remaining. By this stage, however, murmurs had long turned to the predicament of Dupont.

Melvyn Jaminet was released for his side’s 13th by Gaël Fickou and a driving line-out completed matters by earning a penalty try. France have three wins from three and were far more convincing, but may have suffered a withering setback. Across France and around the globe, everyone hopes that Dupont will return to this World Cup.

Fabien Galthié’s team do not play again until their final pool match against Italy on October 6, though the worst case scenario of a facial fracture would surely make it difficult for Dupont to return without a three-week absence, depending on its severity.

France v Namibia: As it happened. . .

10:30 PM BST

Dupont injury update

French newspaper L’Equipe has reported that Antoine Dupont left the changing rooms “shaking his head very negatively”.

The newspaper also appeared to criticise head coach Fabien Galthié for not taking the scrum-half off the pitch sooner.

10:21 PM BST

France fans react to their side's win

Matthieu Jalibert poses with fans
Matthieu Jalibert poses with fans - Reuters/Peter Cziborra
Fans of France pose for a photo as they celebrate
Fans of France pose for a photo as they celebrate - Getty Images/David Rogers
Romain Taofifenua high fives young France fans
Romain Taofifenua high fives young France fans - Getty Images/Phil Walter

10:18 PM BST

France celebrate record-breaking victory

France's Charles Ollivon (left) celebrates after the match
France's Charles Ollivon (left) celebrates after the match - Reuters/Peter Cziborra
Francois Cros of France acknowledges the fans
Francois Cros of France acknowledges the fans - Getty Images /Phil Walter
Uini Atonio of France celebrates
Uini Atonio of France celebrates - Getty Images/Paul Harding

10:12 PM BST

Dupont's injury as it happened

France's scrum-half and captain Antoine Dupont (C) holds his head
France's scrum-half and captain Antoine Dupont (C) holds his head - AFP/Christophe Simon
France's scrum-half and captain Antoine Dupont (centre) receives medical attention
France's scrum-half and captain Antoine Dupont (centre) receives medical attention - AFP/Christophe Simon

10:08 PM BST

Rafael Ibanez on France's performance

We have many reasons to have a smile on our face because we scored some decent tries, a lot of support for the boys and it was a big step up.

It’s fantastic for our team and hopefully we keep on going.

10:07 PM BST

Rafael Ibanez: 'We feel sorry for Dupont'

We feel sorry for Antoine.

It just reminds us how dangerous it can be, head-to-head contact.

Antoine got a big hit on his face and we will do some exams to make sure nothing is wrong with him. But he’s a strong guy and we can rely on his strength.

09:58 PM BST

Dupont injury update

French media are reporting that he is on his way to hospital because they are concerned about a cheekbone fracture.

More details to come.

Antoine Dupont receives medical attention after taking a knock to the head
Antoine Dupont receives medical attention after taking a knock to the head - Reuters/Peter Cziborra

09:53 PM BST

80 min FRA 96 NAM 0

But it’s not to be!

France look to play from deep inside their 22 and quickly find space on the left flank - where they have found so much joy this evening.

They throw a good offload and then look for another, but there is no one there to field this one and the ball bounces into touch.

It won’t matter for French fans though, who have witnessed their side put on their highest score ever, and the highest score of this World Cup.

The final score on an historic night in Marseille: France 96 - 0 Namibia.

09:50 PM BST

TRY FRANCE! 80 min FRA 96 NAM 0

The forwards look to show what they can do this time, and they force the penalty try!

Namibia are shown a yellow card, and they are really on the canvas now.

France earn an automatic penalty try, and France will now have one more play to go beyond 100 points.

09:48 PM BST

79 min FRA 89 NAM 0

France now have another opportunity with a lineout deep inside Namibia’s 22.

09:47 PM BST

TRY FRANCE! 75 min FRA 89 NAM 0

Sure enough, they score again.

France show deft hands in the forwards with two good offloads.

They then put it out the back to Ramos who makes a perfect floated pass over the top Fickou in space. The centre then makes a simple pass to Jaminet who doesn’t have to think about passing this time.

He runs it in to the left corner to give Ramos a shot to break France’s points record.

And he makes no mistake. The metronomic full-back has been on near perfect form all evening.

Melvyn Jaminet smiles as he grounds the ball to score
Melvyn Jaminet smiles as he grounds the ball to score - AFP/Nicolas Tucat

09:44 PM BST

75 min FRA 82 NAM 0

Namibia give away a penalty ant the scrum and France kick up to the opposition 22 to give themselves another good attacking platform.

09:44 PM BST

74 min FRA 82 NAM 0

Ramos has taken a bang to the knee and looks in some pain.

The physio rushes on to administer the magic spray, and the full-back chooses to run it off for the time being.

09:42 PM BST

74 min FRA 82 NAM 0

Namibia try again, desperate for just on score to take something from this game.

They take it from the base of the scrum and their replacement scrum-half looks to burst through.

But again, the ball is knocked on.

09:41 PM BST

71 min FRA 82 NAM 0

Damian Penaud unlocks the Namibian defence again and pops to Bielle-Biarrey.

The young winger looks through if he can only catch the ball, but he puts it to ground. He will be furious with himself.

Namibia have a midfield scrum.

09:39 PM BST

FRANCE TRY! 67 min FRA 82 NAM 0

Another wonderful try by France!

This time Ollivon gets the ball in the wide left channel with Bielle-Biarrey outside him.

If he passes, his winger is on a hat-trick, but the flanker stretches his legs before throwing a deft dumy and going over himself.

The crowd react, loving seeing the big man in full flight.

Ramos adds to his sizeable points tally.

09:35 PM BST

Dupont potential cheekbone fracture

09:34 PM BST

FRANCE TRY! 62 min FRA 75 NAM 0

Interception JC Greyling!

The veteran winger has the whole field ahead of him and will be reeled in.

He kicks up-field and the oncoming French chasers pounce on Jaminet who gathers.

But what work rate from France. Penaud works back to get on-side and goes blind at the ruck to put Bielle-Biarrey beyond the Namibian defence.

With just one player to beat, the young wing decides to go it alone, rounding the full-back and showing his pace to run it in.

France kick the conversion.

Louis Bielle-Biarrey runs half the length of the field to score
Louis Bielle-Biarrey runs half the length of the field to score - Getty Images/Paul Harding

09:31 PM BST

61 min FRA 68 NAM 0

France look to play out from their own 22 but are playing under advantage.

Carley calls play back and Les Bleues clear up beyond half-way.

The locomotive momentum France sustained in the first half has been somewhat subdued in the last 10 minutes.

Galthié will want to see his side push on here and show a ruthless streak.

They show their intent by angling a perfectly kickable penalty to the corner.

09:29 PM BST

60 min FRA 68 NAM 0

Namibia win a slightly dubious penalty as a confused looking prop Reda Wardi is pinged for what looks like a perfectly legitimate attempt at a tackle.

The Welwitschias kick for the corner and look to drive, but France disrupt and win a scrum.

09:27 PM BST

58 min FRA 68 NAM 0

Despite the scoreline, Namibia have still had around 50 per cent of possession.

That will be a positive sign for  Allister Coetzee, showing his side have a lot to build with.

But despite their best efforts, they have hardly threatened the French defence all evening.

09:25 PM BST

56 min FRA 68 NAM 0

Another head injury worry here, but this time there is no hint of foul play.

French replacement Paul Boudehent gets his head the wrong side in the tackle and looks like he may have been knocked clean out.

The back row receives treatment before being replaced by Cameron Woki, who would have thought his work for the evening was done.

09:23 PM BST

TRY FRANCE! 54 min FRA 68 NAM 0

Jaminet has just come on and makes a clean break down the left after a wayward offload from Bourgarit bounces into his hands.

Clearly keen to get his name on the scoresheet, the substitute should have passed to Penaud as he approached the full-back  but decides to go it alone and is caught.

Penaud would have cause to be furious with his team-mate, but luckily enough, France recycle at the following ruck and Penaud is given the ball this time.

There is almost a moment of drama as a Namibian player, who appears to be returning from an off-side position, tackles the French winger. But Penaud has the strength to get the ball down.

France add the conversion.

09:19 PM BST

53 min FRA 61 NAM 0

France look to play from inside their 22 and work it to Bielle-Biarrey on the left flank.

The try scorer’s kick rebounds off a Namibian defender, and France have a lineout on their own 10.

09:18 PM BST

51 min FRA 61 NAM 0

Namibia create a good opportunity, driving a well-worked maul up to the French line.

They are showing real resolve having just lost their captain.

France knock-on and Namibia play the advantage. Then just as Carley calls advantage over, Namibia knock it on. That will be a tough pill to swallow.

09:16 PM BST


A tackle off the ball from Reda Wardi delays Namibian scrum-half Jacques Theron from getting to the next ruck.

Baptiste Couilloud almost had his second try in as many minutes, but the ball is called back for a Namibian penalty.

They kick to the corner.

09:13 PM BST

47 min FRA 61 NAM 0

Johan Deysel’s yellow card is upgraded to a red card by the bunker review team.

Dupont has already been removed from the field to be replaced by Couilloud.

It is surely unlikely that Dupont will return even if he passes his HIA.

Matthew Carley shows Johan Deysel a red card after the Namibian captain's punishment is upgraded in the bunker
Matthew Carley shows Johan Deysel a red card after the Namibian captain's punishment is upgraded in the bunker - Getty Images /David Rogers

09:12 PM BST

TRY FRANCE! 47 min FRA 61 NAM 0

This one is well worked but simple from France.

They go blind off the lineout and Mauvaka pops to replacement scrum-half Baptiste Couilloud.

He then then walks into the corner. Ramos hits the conversion.

09:10 PM BST


France go off the top off the lineout and look to spin in it wide.

But there is an intercept, and Divan Rossouw is in!

Heartbreak for Namibia. Johan Deysel clearly makes head-on-head contact in a late tackle on Dupont after the scrum-half threw the pass to Jalibert.

The Namibian captain is shown a yellow card, but this one does not look good. Dupont also comes off for an HIA.

09:07 PM BST

44 min FRA 54 NAM 0

Namibia crash it up through Deysel to just inside the French 22.

But they are repelled by staunch French defence, who force the knock-on.

Ramos clears up-field, successfully this time before Namiba attempt to run it back. But Greyling becomes isolated and is corralled into touch by Jalibert.

09:05 PM BST

42 min FRA 54 NAM 0

Namibia have an early midfield scrum and go right but are driven into touch.

France go quickly and Ramos kicks down-field, but he gets too much on it and the ball rolls dead.

The French full-back looks disgusted with himself, but it gives Namibia a good opportunity with a scrum on the opposition 22.

09:04 PM BST

41 min FRA 54 NAM 0

We’re back under way here!

Half-time footage shows Namibia coach Allister Coetzee giving his side a rollicking team talk.

Neutrals will hope the hair-dryer treatment will give his side the boost they need to get something from this game.

If they can get a try in this second half against one of the world’s best, it will be a tremendous achievement.

08:50 PM BST

TRY FRANCE! 40 min FRA 54 NAM 0

With the clock in the red, Ramos puts in a brilliant chip in midfield before gathering his own kick.

Antoine Dupont then performs the absolutely ridiculous. Superlatives cannot capture the majesty of this man.

The scrum-half takes a quick-tap penalty before looking up to see what’s on and notices there is a spare few inches of space in the left corner for Bielle-Biarrey.

Moments before he is hit by an oncoming defender, Dupont drops the ball onto his left boot and puts in a cross-kick, landing it on a six-pence for his winger to run onto.

Bielle-Biarrey catches and drops over the line in one motion.

Ramos hits the conversion from out wide, and France have 54 unanswered points inside the first half.

08:44 PM BST

TRY FRANCE! 38 min FRA 47 NAM 0

Eventually Namibia are snagged on the left flank and drop the ball, which is quickly scooped up by the French defence.

It takes a few passes and a little bit of tough love from Penaud who crashes through a tackle and gets beyond the Namibian defence.

With just the full-back to beat, he makes an unselfish pass inside to Dupont who gets his name on the scoresheet.

Ramos kicks a straightforward conversion, and France lead by 47 ahead of the break.

Damian Penaud (right) evades a tackle from Namibia's hooker Louis Van De Westhuizen
Damian Penaud (right) evades a tackle from Namibia's hooker Louis Van De Westhuizen - AFP/Nicolas Tucat

08:42 PM BST

37 min FRA 40 NAM 0

Namibia play into midfield, but their one-up runners are repelled by the French defence, who look as if they could do this all day.

08:41 PM BST

FRANCE TRY! 33 min FRA 40 NAM 0

Les Bleues make no mistake this time though.

Anthony Jelonch notices a gap at guard on the right-hand side of the ruck and decides to pick and go.

Flament follows him through the gap and the No 8 executes a simple offload to his fellow forward who touches down beneath the sticks.

The conversion is good. France are nearly half-way to their record score, which was against Namibia in 2007.

Anthony Jelonch breaks from the ruck to set up a try
Anthony Jelonch breaks from the ruck to set up a try - Reuters/Peter Cziborra

08:38 PM BST


Mauvaka takes the ball off the lineout and crashes through one tackle, but the ball is knocked out his hand by his opposite number van der Westhuizen.

A France player gathers and puts it down, but the ball is called back for a Namibia scrum.

08:36 PM BST

31 min FRA 33 NAM 0

France then show their full range of skills.

They play off the top of the lineout again, and Bielle-Biarrey catches on the wrap-around before shipping the ball to Penaud.

The winger kicks down the line and the ball is taken into touch by Namibia.

08:35 PM BST

30 min FRA 33 NAM 0

But all of a sudden there is a fantastic opportunity for Namibia!

They put good pressure on Dupont at the base of the scrum and force the ball free in the tackle.

Flanker Johan Retief gets onto the ball and shows good power to drive up to the French five-metre line.

But France scramble well and force a penalty at the breakdown before clearing up-field.

So close, yet so far for Namibia.

08:33 PM BST

29 min FRA 33 NAM 0

“No water breaks tonight,” announces Matthew Carley.

That won’t come as welcome news to the Namibian players who already have their hands on their knees.

08:32 PM BST

28 min FRA 33 NAM 0

Despite the scoreline, Namibia continue to look to string together phases inside the French half.

They do well, even putting in a successful chip to work their way up to the French 22.

They are up above 10 phases and put together a couple of nice offloads to squirm inside the French 22.

But the ball is knocked on, and France win it back.

08:30 PM BST

TRY FRANCE! 26 min FRA 33 NAM 0

This one is for Jonathan Danty.

France go off the top of the lineout with Cameron Woki popping down to Dupont.

The scrum-half snipes in-field to hold the defence before putting in Danty, who runs a good line through/over Danco Burger. There’s no stopping the big centre from that sort of range.

Ramos kicks the conversion.

Thomas Ramos converts a try
Thomas Ramos converts a try - Reuters/Peter Cziborra

08:28 PM BST

25 min FRA 26 NAM 0

France win a penalty at the scrum and kick to the corner. They will want to execute here.

08:27 PM BST

23 min FRA 26 NAM 0

A lifeline for Namibia.

France win a turnover and Dupont puts a dangerous kick down the left-hand touchline.

Bielle-Biarrey gathers before throwing it behind his back to Dupont. Les Bleues then stretch it to the right where there is acres of space.

They then work it back left but after several fiendish offloads come off, they throw it one pass too far and the ball goes to ground. Namibia win a scrum.

France said they wanted to put on a show for their fans, and they have certainly done that so far.

08:24 PM BST

TRY FRANCE! 20 min FRA 26 NAM 0

With just 20 minutes on the clock, France already have a bonus point.

This one is a simple run-in for Damian Penaud.

France throw to the back of the lineout and run it at the Namibian defence through Peato Mauvaka.

The hooker fixes the opposition fly-half before popping to Penaud, who trails on the inside.

From there he runs into the corner.

Ramos adds the conversion.

Penaud scores for his side
Penaud scores for his side - Getty Images /David Rogers

08:21 PM BST

TRY FRANCE! 18 min FRA 19 NAM 0

Talk about French flair!

Jalibert breaks up the right flank before flicking outside to Penaud who pops back to Jalibert who then offloads back inside Charles Ollivon to run it in. It’s like watching the Harlem Globetrotters.

With that, Ollivon becomes his countries leading forward try scorer.

Ramos makes no mistake with the conversion.

08:18 PM BST

15 min FRA 12 NAM 0

The Namibian scrum holds firm and they look to box kick from their own 10.

France win the ball back through Dupont but things are scrappy.

They look to play out from their 22, but Fickou is hit hard and nearly bundled into touch.

The centre manages to squeeze the ball away just before he touches the line, and it rebounds off a Namibian player to give France the throw.

This time Dupont clears.

08:16 PM BST

14 min FRA 12 NAM 0

France’s lineout has been far from clean so far, and again things go awry.

This time the throw is too high. Ollivon, at full stretch, can only tip the ball forwards. Namibia scrum.

08:15 PM BST

14 min FRA 12 NAM 0

The ball goes through from France and Namibia kick out to clear.

France have a lineout on the opposition 10-metre line to the left.

08:14 PM BST

11 min FRA 12 NAM 0

France are through again here, this time through Dupont who releases Fickou.

The winger steps and carries up to within five metres of the Namibian line.

You get the feeling another try is imminent, but JJalibert goes for a cross-kick which is charged down.

Namibia then force a penalty at the ensuing breakdown. Good last-ditch defence there from the underdogs.

They clear to halfway and disrupt the lineout.

08:11 PM BST

TRY FRANCE! 8 min FRA 12 NAM 0

A brilliant try, this time it’s Bielle-Biarrey who plays magician.

France have a scrum midfield from which they go left. Jalibert puts in a handsome kick that bounces towards the corner.

Just as the ball is bouncing out over the corner flag, Bielle-Biarrey reaches over the line to catch the ball and throw an offload back inside to Jonathan Danty who simply has to touch the ball down.

The TMO checks if the winger is in touch, but the try is good.

Ramos adds the extras.

08:08 PM BST


A moment of genius from Antoine Dupont!

The French magician takes the ball off the back of the maul and sees his friend Damian Penaud in acres of space on the wing.

To get it there, the scrum-half hoiks a bending kick that bounces before landing in the wingers hands.

Penaud adds to his career-best five game try streak by easily beating his opposite number to go into the corner.

Ramos misses the penalty from out wide. France lead.

08:05 PM BST

4 min FRA 0 NAM 0

And they hold up well enough. A positive start for Namibia.

Kick tennis ensues before Namibia look to run it back. They vowed before this match that they would look to play, and they clearly meant it.

Unfortunately the 145kg frame of Uini Atonio locks onto the ball and proves impossible to move.

France win a penalty and kick to the five. This is a golden opportunity.

08:03 PM BST

3 min FRA 0 NAM 0

France’s lineout throw is not straight, and so we will have our first scrum.

This will be a big early test for Namibia’s front row.

08:02 PM BST

3 min FRA 0 NAM 0

Namibia play a few phases at half-way before kicking to France.

France return well with a kick that goes deep. Namibia clear through Cliven Loubster to his own 10-metre line.

France win the kicking battle.

08:02 PM BST

1 min FRA 0 NAM 0

France turn the ball over at the lineout and look to play straight away, finding some space on the right flank.

They kick and the ball ricochets into the hands of a Namibian who kicks down the line.

Namibia chase well but the ball goes dead. France re-start with a 22-metre dropout.

08:00 PM BST

1 min FRA 0 NAM 0

Matthew Carley blows his whistle, and we’re off!

Namibia get us under way with a kick down the throat of Ramos.

The full-back gathers and clears to just outside their 22 for a Namibia lineout.

07:59 PM BST

Kick-off imminent

The anthems are done, the tracksuits are off, and kick-off is just moments away in Marseille!

07:58 PM BST

The anthems

A boisterous rendition of La Marseillaise echoes around Stade de Marseille.

Now it’s time for the Namibians to belt out Namibia, Land of the Brave!

07:56 PM BST

The teams are out

Antoine Dupont leads France - dressed in blue - out onto the pitch.

Johan Deysel stands at the front of his Namibia side all in white.

Now, it’s time for the anthems!

07:53 PM BST

The secret to France's success: discipline

Conceding only four penalties in a Test match is practically unheard of in the modern game, but for France to do so in the opening match of their own World Cup against the All Blacks bordered on miraculous.

Conversely, it was France’s ill-discipline that hampered them the following week against Namibia as Galthié‘s side gave away 15 penalties - admittedly, with a second choice team.

The new-look Les Bleues will have to rediscover their new-found discipline if they are to triumph in their home tournament.

Check out Charles Richardson’s full report for how Les Bleues changed their image from “which France will show up” to clinical disciplinarians.

07:45 PM BST

Have your say

07:42 PM BST

And for Namibia

Namibia team guide
Namibia team guide

07:36 PM BST

Our experts' view of France's record and prospects

France team guide
France team guide

07:35 PM BST

Les Bleues love affair with the Stade de Marseille

Head coach Fabien Galthié was on the side who played France’s first test at the Stade de Marseille, against New Zealand in 2000, and has vivid memories of that night.

“We were staying in Aix-en-Provence and it was our first time at the [Stade de Marseille]. The bus driver could not find the stadium so we arrived half an hour before kick off,” Galthié told a press conference on Tuesday.

“We got off the bus and it turned out we were in the lobby of the Societe Generale [bank]. The guys there were so happy that we paid them a visit just before the match.

“So we got back into the bus and got changed inside and we stepped into the dressing room 15 minutes before the game.”

It was not the ideal pre-test routine for France, but the Stade de Marseille crowd gave them a memorable reception and Les Bleus were fired up when the referee blew the whistle.

“We had this idea to just go around the touchline and there was so much passion coming down from the stands, the fans were so close to us that when we briefly went back to the dressing room, we were boiling hot.

“After 15 minutes we were 17-0 up,” Galthié added.

France ended up winning the test 42-33.

Since then, the atmosphere has always been above par in Marseille, where France have won 11 of their 13 tests, the previous one last year when they beat South Africa 30-26.

“Against South Africa, you could not hear anything from two metres because of the noise. I can’t wait to play in that arena again,” said France fullback Thomas Ramos.

07:31 PM BST

Namibia's squad rotation

Namibia have made nine changes to the side that faced New Zealand. One of those changes is enforced by the horrific ankle injury sustained by centre Le Roux Malan. Danco Burger comes into the side as his replacement.

Prop Desiderius Sethie and hooker Louis van der Westhuizen come into the front row. There are also two changes at lock where Mahepisa Tjeriko takes over from Johan Retief, who moves to flanker, and France-based Adriaan Ludick comes into the team.

Max Katjijeko, Retief and No 8 Prince Gaoseb make up the back row.

Jacques Theron gets his first start for Namibia at scrum-half, while Cliven Loubser moves from full-back to fly-half. Andre van den Berg comes into the No 15 jersey.

07:25 PM BST

Rafael Ibanez: France look to entertain

It was very important for us to bring a bit more experience. Its a World Cup game and we know the expectation is pretty high.

We know we can improve our game. This game tonight is a big opportunity for us to step up, be more accurate. There is a big expectation of the boys

Namibia are going to bring big passion. It is down to us to control the game, to respect Namibia and hopefully bring some fun to the game to perform in front of the crowd.

07:24 PM BST

France's 1st team

Only lock Cameron Woki, flanker Anthony Jelonch and wing Louis Bielle-Biarry have retained their spots, with 10 players who started against the All Blacks coming back into the starting XV.

Prop Cyril Baille gets his first minutes of the tournament after injuring his calf against Scotland last month, as does centre Jonathan Danty, who sat out the opening two matches of the World Cup with a thigh injury.

Number eight Gregory Alldritt is rested after picking up an injury in training this week, but team officials confirmed on Wednesday he is back in training.

Charles Ollivon starts in a new look back row that includes Francois Cros and number eight Anthony Jelonch, and says it is important they nail their plans with bigger tests to come.

Speaking about the return of Danty and Baille, coach Galthié said: “They are two players who have been in all our big battles in the last four years.”

The biggest boost, however, will come from scrumhalf Antoine Dupont and flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert.

“I’m happy to play. We were several players who needed to recuperate [after the New Zealand game] and we are now ready to deliver, in terms of result and performance,” captain Dupont said.

07:17 PM BST

The teams - Antoine Dupont starts while Jonathan Danty returns


Starting XV: 15-Thomas Ramos, 14-Damian Penaud, 13-Gael Fickou, 12-Jonathan Danty, 11-Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10-Matthieu Jalibert, 9-Antoine Dupont, 1-Cyril Baille, 2-Peato Mauvaka, 3-Uini Atonio, 4-Cameron Woki, 5-Thibaud Flament, 6-Francois Cros, 7-Charles Ollivon, 8-Anthony Jelonch

Replacements: 16-Pierre Bourgarit, 17-Reda Wardi, 18-Dorian Aldegheri, 19-Romain Taofifenua, 20-Paul Boudehent, 21-Baptiste Couilloud, 22-Yoram Moefana, 23-Melvyn Jaminet


Starting XV: 15-Andre van der Berg, 14-Gerswin Mouton, 13-Johan Deysel, 12-Danco Burger, 11-JC Greyling, 10-Cliven Loubser, 9-Jacques Theron, 1-Des Sethie, 2-Louis van der Westhuizen, 3-Aranos Coetzee, 4-Mahepisa Tjeriko, 5-Adriaan Ludick, 6-Max Katjijeko, 7-Johan Retief, 8-Prince Gaoseb

Replacements: 16-Obert Nortje, 17-Jason Benade, 18-Haitembu Shifuka, 19-PJ van Lill, 20-Richard Hardwick, 21-Oela Blaauw, 22-Alcino Izaacs, 23-Divan Rossouw

Referee: Matthew Carley

07:11 PM BST

France at full strength against Namibian minnows

Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport’s coverage of tonight’s Pool A clash between France and Namibia at Stade de Marseille.

France got their World Cup campaign under way with a statement 27-13 victory over New Zealand at a sold-out Stade de France on the opening night but followed up with a less than convincing performance against Uruguay in which they led by just one point until the 55th minute.

The host’s lack-lustre display drew plenty of criticism, not least from the players themselves, with lock Cameron Woki labelling his team’s showing as “unacceptable”.

Perhaps with that in mind, France head coach Fabien Galthié has recalled his big guns for tonight’s showdown, making 12 changes to the side who stumbled to victory last week.

These sides have met twice before at the World Cup, the most recent of which was in 2007, also in France, when Les Bleues put down their biggest points margin in World Cup history, winning 87-10. Any improvement on that result tonight should be considered a good showing for Namibia.

They come into tonight’s clash having conceded 123 points and 18 tries in their two World Cup matches so far against Italy and New Zealand, managing only one try and 11 points in reply.

But despite their score difference, the Welwitschias gave Italy a good run for their money before running out of steam to lose 52-8. Faced with the all-powerful All Blacks, it was a more one-sided affair.

Namibia have made nine changes to the side that faced New Zealand as coach Allister Coetzee looks to give his wider squad a taste of the tournament in this “special occasion”.

“It’s important to give every player coming to a World Cup an opportunity to play,” Coetzee told reporters. “Our mindset is building towards the last game [against Uruguay] and to see what these players can offer to get the best team possible for that final match.

“It is a great experience for a lot of youngsters playing in their first World Cup. One of our objectives is to grow depth in our squad, especially against tier one nations who we don’t get to play often.”

“They have selected a very strong side against us. Someone like Antoine Dupont, we see him playing on television a lot, for so Jacques Theron to get his first start for Namibia against him is a special occasion.”

Speaking ahead of tonight’s clash, France back row Charles Ollivon said: “We are building and must give 100 per cent to do the things we have worked on the whole week, be clear in our game and clear on what we are doing.

“There is some pressure [to put in a strong performance]. We need to play, [most of these players] didn’t play last week, so we are happy to be back.”

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.