France make five changes to starting side for second Test against All Blacks

France have pinned their hopes on club form after announcing five changes to their starting team for the second Test against the All Blacks.

Coach Jacques Brunel deemed the three players involved in the Top 14 club final on June 2 would be off limits for last week's first Test in Auckland, which the tourists lost 52-11.

All three slot straight into his XV on Saturday at Westpac Stadium, including both flankers.

Read more: All Blacks name unchanged team for second Test against France in Wellington

Victorious Castres forward Mathieu Babillot and beaten Montpellier counterpart Kelian Galletier have replaced Fabien Sanconnie and Judicael Cancoriet on the side of the scrum.

Montpellier fullback Benjamin Fall usurps veteran Maxime Medard at fullback.

The two players involved in contentious moments at Eden Park have both made way.

Remy Grosso suffered a fractured skull when hit high in a double-tackle from Sam Cane and Ofa Tu'ungafasi that didn't result in any punishment beyond a penalty, sparking heated debate.

Grosso, who has been given medical clearance to fly home tody, is replaced by Gael Fickou.

Lock Paul Gabrillagues, who was considered unlucky to receive a yellow card for a relatively mild high tackle, is on the reserves bench. His starting spot goes to South African-born Bernard Le Roux.

Two players introduced to the bench are front-rowers Pierre Bourgarit and Cedate Gomes Sa.

Hooker Bourgarit, 20, is in line for a Test debut.

FRANCE: Benjamin Fall, Teddy Thomas, Mathieu Bastareaud (capt), Geoffrey Doumayrou, Gael Fickou, Anthony Belleau, Morgan Parra, Kevin Gourdon, Kelian Galletier, Mathieu Babillot, Yoann Maestri, Bernard Le Roux, Uini Atonio, Camille Chat, Dany Priso. Res: Pierre Bourgarit, Cyril Baille, Cedate Gomes Sa, Paul Gabrillagues, Alexandre Lapandry, Baptiste Serin, Jules Plisson, Maxime Medard.

Dejected French players. Steinlager Series First Test, All Blacks vs France, Rugby Union Test Match Eden Park, Auckland. 09 June 2018. Copyright Image: Renee McKay /
France will be aim to bounce back from the defeat at Eden Park. Source: Photosport


Congratulations! All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara announces engagement with girlfriend Greer Samuel

All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara has announced his engagement to his girlfriend.

The 26-year-old took to Instagram to confirm he popped the question to Greer Samuel after nearly eight years together. 

Perenara posted a picture of the happy couple along with the caption, "When you ask your best friend to marry you and she says yes".

The Hurricanes halfback was quick to receive congratulatory wishes from his Super Rugby and All Blacks teammates.

"Congrats uso," Jerome Kaino wrote.

"Nice one team!" Lima Sopoaga added.

The couple even received a message from singer Ronan Keating.

TJ Perenara and girlfriend Greer Samuel.
TJ Perenara and girlfriend Greer Samuel. Source: TJ Perenara/Instagram



Baby Blacks 'disappointed' and 'gutted' after shock semi-final loss to France at World Cup

The Baby Blacks have summarised this morning's shock under 20s World Cup semi-final loss to France with two words - "gutted" and "disappointed".

The New Zealand U20s won't have a chance to defend last year's title after losing to France 16-7 in Perpignan this morning, thanks to a dominant performance from the French forward pack.

The Kiwi attacking flair struggled to get into the game until the 70th minute when Harry Plummer crossed the line, but mistakes continuously cost them in their attempts to meet England in the final.

Captain Tom Christie was proud of his team's determination to the final whistle but couldn't deny his emotions after the game.

"I'm immensely gutted at the result but I'm very far from disappointed with my lads. My lads played with a lot of heart and a lot of pride," he said.

"I think we were unlucky sometimes and, yes, some of our mistakes were sometimes from our (unforced) errors, but I can't fault my boys ... they played with immense pride out there.

"Rugby is a game you never want to lose. But it has got that competitive edge so there is always going to be a winner and a loser and sometimes you end up on the wrong side."

Head coach Craig Philpott said he was sure there wouldn't be any less motivation for the side in their bronze playoff with South Africa.

"I'm sure there won't be any lack of desire to want to finish the tournament really well."

The Baby Blacks play South Africa at 2:30am NZT on Monday in Beziers with the final taking place immediately afterwards.