PARIS – France host England in a Six Nations Test match at the Stade de France on Saturday.
AFP looks at five key head-to-heads:
Brunel v Jones
This has been France's first Six Nations under coach Jacques Brunel, the 64-year-old who replaced the sacked Guy Noves. Brunel was unlucky to see France lose their tournament opener to Ireland following a last-ditch drop-goal from Jonathan Sexton. Then came a 32-26 loss to Scotland in a match where France were on top until late on before a 34-17 success against Italy -- Les Bleus' first victory in nine Tests and 11, long, months.
"It will be a tough game and he (Brunel) is a great coach," England coach Eddie Jones said of the Frenchman who was formerly head coach of Italy.
Australian Jones has transformed England after taking over in the wake of the disastrous 2015 Rugby World Cup when the English hosts failed to advance from their pool. "England's level is just below that of the All Blacks. Since the 2015 World Cup they have been incredible," Brunel said, with Jones having overseen 24 wins from 26 games since then.
Guirado v George
France skipper Guilhem Guirado is a largely taciturn figure in front of the cameras, but the Toulon hooker leads by example on the pitch. A destructive defender, Guirado is also eager with ball in hand and knows how to find his jumpers in the line-out.
Dylan Hartley's tight calf has gifted Jamie George a rare start in the England shirt. Despite being a shoe-in at number two for the British and Irish Lions' drawn Test series against world champions New Zealand, George has yet to win over Eddie Jones, but there can be no denying the Saracens hooker's all-round skills in a dominant pack.
Bastareaud v Te'o
Mathieu Bastareaud has once again found favour in the ever-ebbing waters of the French backline. So much tinkering has there been, the Toulon centre could easily have been forgiven for giving up the chance for further international honours. Instead, his club form and the lack of real rivals have propelled him into the team, and he has performed well.
Ben Te'o, however, will offer some stiffer resistance than the barrel-chested Frenchman has so far encountered. The New Zealand-born player also found favour under Warren Gatland for the Lions, a proven defender with a skillset honed in rugby league, a perfect foil outside the George Ford-Owen Farrell 10-12 axis.
Tauleigne v Hughes
Little-known Marco Tauleigne has been granted a run at No 8 despite Kevin Gourdon's return to fitness after an ankle injury. Brunel said he wanted to keep faith with a winning team, adding of Tauleigne: "He's improving, he's discovering the international level, which is a bit more demanding than the French league. He's getting more comfortable. We think he can do more, we know he can break tackles and unsettle the opposition."
Fiji-born Nathan Hughes is a man-mountain whose size is offset by his remarkable running and offloading skills. Look out for him when the game starts to break up on the 60-minute mark.
Trinh-Duc v Ford
Francois Trinh-Duc has been drafted back in at the expense of Lionel Beauxis in Brunel's hope that he might be more clinical. "We're hoping he will bring us that little extra we lacked," said Brunel. Trinh-Duc has bounced in and out of various France teams, but there is no doubting his ability and with Maxime Machenaud inside him, expect Trinh-Duc to take the ball to the England line and look to free his outside backs.
George Ford has thrived since Owen Farrell slotted in to the inside centre position, handing England a very persuasive kicking and handling option. Outplayed by Finn Russell in the defeat by Scotland, the way Ford reads the game will be key to how England seek to neutralise a heavyweight French pack and rely on superior fitness to move it around the park.