With heavy rain expected in Montpellier on Saturday, France are set for a tough evening if they are to improve their poor record against Argentina. Having been convincingly beaten by England (I even had some England Rugby Tickets!), Argentina need something new.
A quick glance at past results reveals that France have won just twice in nine starts against the Pumas since 2002.
The Pumas’ approach is seldom pretty but it’s usually very effective in the kind of conditions expected on Saturday. The South Americans always seem to find a little bit extra when playing France and with many of the ‘visitors’ playing close to their adopted homes, this week shouldn’t be any different
Led by an ultra-experienced front row of Rodrigo Roncero (33), Mario Ledesma (37), Martin Scelzo (34) the Pumas are all about getting in your face and inside your head.
Ones to watch:
For France: Sébastien Chabal has made no secret of his desire to play at number eight, meaning he needs to unseat the incumbent Imanol Harinordoquy. Marc Lièvremont is a tough guy to please: Harinordoquy was giving the Fijians all kinds of headaches in the line-outs last week but ended up being criticised by the coach for not sticking to the game-plan. In conditions where France will look to their back-row to carry the ball a lot, the Caveman has a chance to shine. The beast has been let out of his second-row cage – watch him run!
For Argentina: Like the vast majority of the Pumas squad, full-back Martin Rodriguez plays his rugby in the Top 14. The 25-year-old has been a revelation for Stade Français where his accurate kicking and creativity in attack has made him a regular feature in the first-choice XV. He’s equally comfortable at number twelve and runs as well as he kicks. If the French don’t find touch, look to Rodriguez to punish them.
Argentina:15 Martin Rodriguez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Santiago Fenandez, 11 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 10 Felipe Contepomi (c), 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Miguel De Achaval, 7 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 6 Genaro Fessia, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Mario Galarza, 3 Martin Scelzo, 2 Mario Ledesma, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Marco Ayerza, 18 Santiago Guzman, 19 Julio Farias Cabello, 20 Alvaro Galindo, 21 Alfredo Lalanne, 22 Marcelo Bosch.