The hosts will be heavy favourites to keep complete control of Pool A and comfortably maintain their 100 per cent tournament record so far as they gear up for the quarter-finals and a potential shot at a first Webb Ellis Cup triumph on home soil.
However, Fabien Galthie’s side will not be underestimating Namibia, having seen their second-string side handed a scare by plucky Uruguay last week before coming out on top 27-12, adding to the 27-13 victory over the All Blacks on opening night.
But the Welwitschias are unlikely to pose a similar sort of threat here, having been thrashed by Italy in their opening game and then given up 11 tries to a wounded All Blacks team in a 71-3 hammering in Toulouse last Friday.
Date, kick-off time and venue
France vs Namibia takes place tonight on Thursday September 21, 2023, with kick-off scheduled for 8pm BST.
The game will take place at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.
Where to watch France vs Namibia
TV channel: In the UK, tonight’s game will be broadcast live and free to air on ITV4, with coverage starting at 7:15pm.
Live stream: Fans can also catch the action live online via the ITV website and ITVX app.
France vs Namibia team news
After ringing the changes against Uruguay, France have brought back their big names to face Namibia with only Italy left to come next in two weeks’ time in Pool A.
There are 12 changes in total from that surprisingly hard-fought victory in Lille, with impressive young Bordeaux wing Louis Bielle-Biarrey retaining his starting spot along with back-rower Anthony Jelonch – who skippered France on his return from a serious knee injury last week – and lock Cameron Woki.
10 of the starting XV lined up against the All Blacks on opening night, with regular captain and star Antoine Dupont returning along with goal-kicker Thomas Ramos, Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Matthieu Jalibert, Uini Atonio, Thibaud Flament, Francois Cros and Charles Ollivon.
Jonathan Danty is back from injury and starts at centre, likewise first-choice loosehead prop Cyril Baille. Peato Mauvaka deputises for injured hooker Julien Marchand, as he did so well off the bench on opening night.
One notable absentee for France is star back-rower Gregory Alldritt, who is not being risked with Jelonch sticking at No8 instead.
For Namibia, centre Le Roux Malan is out after suffering a horrendous fractured and dislocated ankle against New Zealand.
Danco Burger takes his place in midfield, with former South Africa coach Allister Coetzee making nine changes to the team that were brushed aside by the All Blacks.
Cliven Loubser moves from full-back to fly-half, while Johan Retief moves to the flank and Prince Gaoseb lines up at No8.
France vs Namibia lineups
France XV: Ramos; Penaud, Fickou, Danty, Bielle-Biarry; Jalibert, Dupont (c); Baille, Mauvaka, Atonio; Woki, Flament; Cros, Ollivon, Jelonch
Replacements: Bourgarit, Wardi, Aldegheri, Taofifenua, Boudehent, Couilloud, Moefana, Jaminet
Namibia XV: Van der Bergh; Mouton, Deysel (c), Burger, Greyling; Loubser, Theron; Sethie, Van der Westhuizen; Coetzee, Tjeriko; Ludick, Katjijeko, Retief, Gaoseb
Replacements: Nortje, Benade, Shifuka, Van Lill, Hardwick, Blaauw, Izaacs, Rossouw
France vs Namibia referee
The referee for Thursday’s game is England’s Matthew Carley.
France vs Namibia prediction
Galthie would not have been pleased with a heavily-rotated team’s rather lacklustre efforts against Uruguay and it’s not a surprise to see him go back to almost full strength here with a nice break before the Pool A finale against Italy in Lyon on October 6.
He will be looking for another statement victory from his big guns after New Zealand put 71 points on Namibia last time out.
Namibia don’t lack for spirit and determination, but the gulf in class is enormous and they will be in damage limitation mode from the outset once again, no doubt targeting the meeting with Uruguay next Wednesday as their chance to finally impress before heading home.
They’ve never won a World Cup game despite appearing at every tournament since 1999 and that definitely won’t change here. Indeed, Namibia would do very well to keep strong France to less than 70 on the night.
France to win by at least 60 points.
Head to head (h2h) history and results
This will be only the third full international between the two nations, with France having won the last 87-10 at the 2007 Rugby World Cup on home soil. They also won 47-13 at the 1999 tournament, Namibia’s debut.
France wins: 2
Namibia wins: 0
France vs Namibia latest odds
France to win: 1/500
Namibia to win: 50/1
Odds via Betfair (subject to change).