2011 13/09
France name Rugby World Cup opening

The starting line-up for France has been announced for their opening Rugby World Cup game against Japan at the North Harbour Stadium in New Zealand.

Team coach Marc Lievremont surprised some commentators by including loosehead prop Fabien Barcella in the squad, according to the Guardian, with the player due to feature alongside established stars such as captain Thierry Dusautoir and winger Vincent Clerc.

Barcella, who has struggled for fitness following an Achilles tendon injury suffered last summer, will have a chance to reward his manager's faith on Thursday September 10th, when the team run out in front of cheering crowds sporting rugby jumpers and other replica gear.

Some other notable choices made by Lievremont are the inclusion of Aurelien Rougerie - who has also just come back from an injury - and Dimitri Yachvili; the scrum half whose form has earned him a starting bearth.

Yahoo! Sport offered a series of stats suggesting France are the undoubted favourites to win this week's match, having reached the semi-finals at five of the six past Rugby World Cups.

In comparison, none of the players in Japan's current squad have ever won a match in the competition and the country has recorded just one victory in its history of appearing at the tournament.

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