Wallabies to face France in three-Test series in Australia

By Sports Desk May 06, 2021

Australia will host France in a three-Test series in July, Rugby Australia (RA) announced on Friday.

The Wallabies will welcome fifth-ranked nation France to Australia, with games staged in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Midweek Test rugby will return for the first time since 2012 when the Wallabies face France at the SCG on July 7 before games at AAMI Park in Melbourne (July 13) and Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium (July 17).

Dave Rennie's Australia – who last met France in 2016 – will play a match at the SCG for the first time since 1986.

"France are one of the most exciting teams in World Rugby; they play with passion, flair and unpredictability and have proven time and time again they are one of the global forces of our game," said RA chief executive Andy Marinos.

"They have been quietly building their team as evidenced in their Junior World Cup performances over the past three seasons, and we are now starting to see this translate into their senior side as they look ahead to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France."

"We have also seen the emergence of our own new next generation of Wallaby players throughout the 2020 International season, where I have no doubt, they will continue to build positive momentum into this exciting eToro France Test Series to be held in in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane," he added. 

"The return of midweek Test matches presents a unique opportunity for fans at home and at the venue, with each stadium in a central location for those attending after work.

"As we navigate our way through the ever-changing sporting landscape that we now operate within, we do so with the continued safety of all those involved in these Test matches, along with the communities in which we play, remaining our number one priority.

"We have enjoyed constructive and engaged discussions with [Rugby Union Players Association] RUPA on the international calendar, ensuring that player welfare and high-performance outcomes can be optimised. We will continue to work with our players to ensure our collective goal of being successful in all we do is realised."

France suffered a 3-0 whitewash during their last tour of Australia in 2014, and French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Bernard Laporte said: "It is a great opportunity for our French team to confront an emblematic nation of the southern hemisphere that has marked the history of world rugby such as Australia.

"We are convinced that our bleus, who feel a growing popular wave of the French at each match, will be keen to continue to perform on the international stage and demonstrate that France is among the great nations of world rugby!"

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    Kylian Mbappe needed clear-the-air talks with Olivier Giroud, but their argument is now in the past, according to France captain Hugo Lloris.

    Les Bleus' preparations for Euro 2020 have been overshadowed by an apparent spat between two of their forwards, which stems from the friendly win over Bulgaria last week.

    Giroud indicated he was unhappy with some of the service he received in the 3-0 victory, comments that were perceived to be aimed specifically at Mbappe, who exchanged passes with the Chelsea forward just three times in 43 minutes.

    The Paris Saint-Germain star admitted last weekend that he had been "a little affected" by Giroud's remarks, while coach Didier Deschamps held a discussion with both players.

    Lloris said Mbappe felt the need to speak his mind, but insisted the problem was overblown.

    "It made more noise outside than inside," he said on Monday ahead of France's Euro 2020 opener with Germany. "The two explained things the next day.

    "There were some small differences, but these things happen. It didn't affect the group. Kylian needed to speak out. It's behind us now."

    Giroud is expected to start on the bench in Munich, with Deschamps more likely to keep faith with the front three of Mbappe, Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann, who all started against Bulgaria.

    Lloris thinks the thought of facing such an attack is likely to give the Germany defenders some sleepless nights, even if France's collective performance will be more important.

    "They are players of a very high level, who have been regulars for many years," he said.

    "Mbappe is younger than Benzema and Griezmann, but he has already done great things.

    "I understand there is some fear among our opponents, but if we want to achieve a big result, we'll need to have great collective strength and be well balanced on the pitch."

    Lloris also praised the actions of Denmark and Finland players and fans during Saturday's match in Copenhagen, in which Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch and required emergency treatment before being taken to hospital.

    The midfielder, a former Tottenham team-mate of Lloris, was confirmed by Denmark's doctor as having suffered cardiac arrest. He was said to be awake and stable in hospital and issued a statement on Monday to thank those who looked after him.

    "We learned about him after training," Lloris said. "There was a lot of concern and stress, but we were quickly assured of his condition.

    "These are pictures you don't want to see on the pitch. I want to highlight the personality of the Danish and Finnish players and the supporters. They were able to handle the incident with dignity and solidarity.

    "What happened affected the world of football. The most important thing is that Christian is in good condition."

  • France v Germany: 'The best two teams in Europe' meet in titanic Group F clash France v Germany: 'The best two teams in Europe' meet in titanic Group F clash

    France get their Euro 2020 campaign underway against Germany on Tuesday in a game described by Didier Deschamps as a meeting of Europe's best two teams.

    Les Bleus, winners of the 2018 World Cup, are bidding to win the European Championship directly after being crowned world champions for the second time, having done the same double in 1998 and 2000.

    Head coach Deschamps played at each of those tournaments and is bidding to become the first person in history to win the World Cup and the Euros as both player and coach.

    France were handed a devilish group, though, alongside Portugal - who beat them in the Euro 2016 final on home soil - and 2014 world champions Germany, who lost to the hosts at the semi-final stage five years ago.

    France are unbeaten in their past five games in Germany, but Joachim Low's side have never lost their opening match at the Euros, last failing to win their first game against the Netherlands in 2004.

    Still, Germany's preparations have not been easy. They lost 6-0 to Spain last November – a result that almost cost Low the chance to lead the team into one final major tournament – and they suffered a shock home defeat to North Macedonia in World Cup qualifying in March.

    They are now in 12th position in the FIFA rankings, but Deschamps thinks there are no stronger opponents France could face at these championships.

    "The quality of our opponents tomorrow makes this a fantastic encounter," he said on Monday. "It's going to be a great match for us. We're the best two teams in Europe, so it's about being focused in defence and clinical in attack.

    "There is individual quality in every position, but the players can play in very different positions, be flexible.

    "There are other players like [Timo] Werner, or [Leroy] Sane, who have a different kind of playing style. We'll see who will start in attack. They are important for Germany, obviously, and we have to stop them from having a lot of impact in the game."

     

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    France – Antoine Griezmann

    Much of France's build-up has been dominated by a rumoured bust-up between Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud, who needs only five goals to match Thierry Henry's all-time scoring record for Les Bleus.

    It is Griezmann, though, who will likely worry Germany the most. He scored both goals in that semi-final five years ago, taking his tally to four against them, and he has been directly involved in 14 goals over the past two major tournaments, more than any other European player.

    Germany – Thomas Muller

    Back at a major tournament again after being told his international career was over in late 2019, Muller will now bid to end a peculiar barren run at the European Championship.

    The Bayern Munich star has never scored at this event in 11 appearances, which is particularly odd for a man with 10 goals in 16 World Cup matches.

     

    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - This will be the sixth meeting between France and Germany at a major tournament, but their first in the group stages. So far, their head-to-head record is perfectly balanced with two wins each and a draw.
    - Since – and including – World Cup 2014, France have won 14 of their 19 games at major tournaments (World Cup and European Championship), more than any other European team over that period prior to Euro 2020, ahead of Belgium (13 wins in 17 games) and Germany (10 wins in 16 games).
    - Germany are taking part in their 13th European Championship, more than any other team. They have won the trophy three times, the most alongside Spain. Their next game will also be their 50th in the tournament, becoming the first team to reach that milestone.
    - Only two European goalkeepers have made more appearances at major international tournaments than Germany's Manuel Neuer (27): Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon (31 each).
    - This will be Low’s 18th game as coach in the Euros, a record. Low has led Germany to the semi-finals in five of his six previous tournaments, the only exception coming at World Cup 2018 (group-stage elimination).

  • Deschamps confirms he held talks with Mbappe and Giroud after dispute Deschamps confirms he held talks with Mbappe and Giroud after dispute

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    Giroud caused a stir after scoring a double in Les Blues' 3-0 friendly win over Bulgaria last Tuesday when appearing to suggest some irritation at a lack of service.

    He did not mention any player by name, but the comments were perceived to be aimed at strike partner Mbappe, who failed to pick out the Chelsea forward on several occasions.

    There were only three passes between the pair during their 43 minutes together on the field.

    Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe had the opportunity to respond at a news conference on Sunday and admitted to being "a little affected" by Giroud's remarks.

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    "I spoke to them, in the same way I have spoken to other players," he told L'Equipe. 

    "When I feel I have to do it for certain reasons, I do it. Dialogue is a part of management, but listening is also good. 

    "These players at a very high level are easier to manage than those at a lower level. Yes, they have pride, but also ego – though I'm not sure if it's ego.

    "They are competitors and a balance has to be found. We need room in the team for everyone."

    Asked about the affect the exchange of words has had on the France camp, Deschamps said: "Everyone got back in the saddle on Thursday.

    "We are all working in the same direction with the same objective. It is also a question of generations, with different interests. Don't forget we spend 24 hours together.

    "On the pitch, they all wear the same jersey and I know they will all make the same effort as the others."

    Mbappe was reportedly blocked from speaking at a news conference last week, with Paul Pogba instead put up to speak to the press, but Deschamps denied that was the case.

    "To be clear, I was not opposed to that," he said. "Pogba offered to go and I validated. It's a reality, it happens.

    "Honestly, internally, I cannot talk about tensions because that is not the case."

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