The following is a roundup of stories from the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Two-time runner-up France retained the starting team that beat England and Wales to face host nation New Zealand in the Oct. 23 Rugby World Cup final at Auckland’s Eden Park.
Coach Marc Lievremont’s selection makes France only the second team in the event’s 24-year history to go into three straight games with the same starting lineup after Argentina in 2007, tournament organizers said. The French replacements will be announced later in the week.
“I didn’t hesitate, it was quite clear,” Lievremont, a member of the French team that lost to Australia in the 1999 final, said of his picks. “I believe my team has a chance.”
Eleven of the starting 15 named today began the 37-17 Pool A loss to the All Blacks on Sept. 24. New Zealand also defeated France in the 1987 World Cup final at Eden Park.
FRANCE: Maxime Medard, Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Maxime Mermoz, Alexis Palisson, Morgan Parra, Dimitri Yachvili, Imanol Harinordoquy, Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir (captain), Lionel Nallet, Pascal Pape, Nicolas Mas, William Servat, Jean-Baptiste Poux.
Replacements: To be confirmed.
Australia recalled Kurtley Beale at full-back in one of eight changes for the third-place playoff against Wales in two days as second-row forward Nathan Sharpe was named to make his 100th Test appearance.
Beale missed the 20-6 semifinal loss to New Zealand three days ago because of a hamstring injury. His return sees Adam Ashley-Cooper shift back into midfield to form a center pairing with Berrick Barnes, who replaces the injured Pat McCabe.
Sharpe, named in place of the injured Dan Vickerman, is set to become the fifth Wallaby to play 100 Tests. Coach Robbie Deans also picked an entirely new front row and omitted former captain Rocky Elsom from the 22-man squad with Scott Higginbotham starting at blindside flanker.
The match is a repeat of the 1987 third-place playoff, which Wales won for its best finish at a Rugby World Cup.
AUSTRALIA: Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor, Adam Ashley- Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Scott Higginbotham, Nathan Sharpe, James Horwill (captain), Salesi Ma’afu, Tatafu Polota Nau, James Slipper.
Replacements: Saia Fainga’a, Ben Alexander, Rob Simmons, Radike Samo, Luke Burgess, Anthony Fainga’a, Rob Horne.
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