Pool D | World ranking: 3
Les Bleus captain and hooker Raphael Ibanez
Coach: Bernard Laporte
Key players: Yannick Jauzion, David Skrela, Fabien Pelous
Past record: Runners-up 1987, 1999; Semi-finals 1995, 2003; Quarter-finals 1991
Pool D results:
September 7: France 12-17 Argentina, Saint-Denis
September 16: France 87-10 Namibia, Toulouse
September 21: France 25-3 Ireland, Saint-Denis
September 30: France 64-7 Georgia, Marseille
October 6: France 20-18 New Zealand, Cardiff
October 13: France 9-14 England, Saint-Denis
Third and fourth-place playoff:
October 19: v Argentina, Paris 2100 (1900 GMT)
Hosts France have built a strong squad despite several pre-tournament injuries, and can afford to leave the former first-choice half-back pairing of Jean Baptiste-Elissalde and Frederic Michalak on the bench for their opener against Argentina.
But they have depth, with David Skrela and Pierre Mignoni having already proved themselves this year for the Six Nations champions.
Veteran prop Sylvain Marconnet misses the tournament after failing to recover from a serious leg injury, along with fellow front-rower Christian Califano.
But lock Fabian Pelous provides plenty of experience in the forward pack, along with his successor as skipper, hooker Raphael Ibanez. And loose forwards such as Remy Martin, Serge Betsen and Imanol Harinordoquy will provide formidable opposition for any team.
Bernard Laporte's side have worked hard on improving their discipline, which has often let down Les Bleus at critical times in the past, and for this reason they should be a real contender in the coach's final tournament in charge.
If France can, as expected, beat Argentina and also see off Ireland, then they face a likely quarter-final against Wales or Australia. E-mail to a friend
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