France vs USA Rugby : The United States national rugby team takes on France in a group stage match at the 2019 Rugby World Cup on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 (10/2/19) at Level-5 Stadium in Fukuoka, Japan, at 3 a.m. EDT.
France is not about to start talking up its Rugby World Cup chances just because it beat Argentina, and the players are in a modest frame of mind heading into the match against the United States on Wednesday.
Victory in Fukuoka will keep France on track for one of the top two spots in Pool C, but the Tricolors have been so inconsistent in recent years that confidence remains fragile.
“We’re not one to say that, against such and such a team, we’re going to take an attacking bonus point,” flyhalf Camille Lopez said.
His dropped goal sealed a dramatic 23-21 win against 2015 semifinalist Argentina in a game many commentators tipped France to lose. In that match, France showed glimpses of its old flair to lead 20-3 at halftime, but then a familiar pattern unfolded as nerves took over.
While France traditionally favors a running style of rugby, and should feel fairly confident of scoring tries against the U.S., Lopez sees the match as an essential opportunity to develop a kicking game France has neglected in the past.
Tactical kicking “is becoming more and more important. The English did it to us during the (Six Nations) tournament. It’s their bread and butter,” said Lopez, who wins his 26th test cap. “I’m convinced you need to able to do everything well, and a kicking game is an important weapon to have.”
Even though France has swapped out its entire pack, the U.S. forwards are the ones under more pressure to perform. U.S. defensive coach Jacque Fourie was dismayed at times by the poor tackling and lack of communication against England.
“There’s a big beast lying ahead of us and that’s France. We need to mentally and physically be ready for that challenge. I don’t think we can get any worse,” said Fourie, a versatile back who played 74 tests for South Africa and won the 2007 World Cup.
With nearly one week between the games, Gold encouraged his players to take time away from the competition and liven up their minds.
“Japan is just an amazing country,” Gold said. “If they want to go down to the beach or hop on a train and go and see something of Japan, they should get away from rugby. Go and have a laugh and a few coffees.”
France’s players will wear black armbands in memory of former French President Jacques Chirac, who led France from 1995 to 2007 and died last Thursday at the age of 86. A minute’s silence will be held before the game.