France could strike the first blow against southern hemisphere rugby domination when they meet Australia in Paris on Saturday Nov 10.
The Wallabies have struggled all season, despite an 18-all draw with New Zealand in their last match.
France too have struggled, finishing a poor fourth in the Six Nations, after almost defeating New Zealand in the World Cup Final last year.
The team has lost key players due to retirement and injury, but will be dangerous against the Wallabies, who are ranked second in the world.
France coach Philippe Saint-André said his young players were growing in confidence.
“On Saturday we are going to need soldiers,” he said, “but we are also going to need leaders on the field.”
For example, young hooker Dimitri Szarzewski “… it’s up to him to show leadership.”
Meanwhile, Wallaby coach Robbie Deans said the Paris Test was crucial: “It’s very important that we get off to a good start.”
Deans is under huge pressure in Australia, where there are on-going calls for his sacking.
This week, Wallaby legend David Campese slammed Deans’s conservative style.
“Now you can see why some players are upset with the way the team is being coached,” Campese said. “They [the players] want to attack; the coach wants to kick goals.”
Campese said the Wallaby tactics under Deans were “predictable and boring”.
Ireland vs South Africa
Ireland will be without iconic skipper Brian O’Driscoll when they play South Africa in Dublin on Saturday – he will be injured through the November Tests.
Because of injuries, Ireland have named Taranaki prop Michael Bent.
The 26-year-old New Zealander qualifies through his grandmother and is expected to make his Ireland debut during the November internationals, despite having played no games for his club side, Leinster.
The dramatic call-up has offended many Irish fans, including former Ireland skipper Keith Wood, who said it was wrong.
“How in the name of Jesus are we getting to the point where a guy flies into the country and he will play for Ireland?” Wood said.
For South Africa, the opposite is true. Springboks fans find coach Heyneke Meyer too traditional. Meyer maintains that the Boks strengths of forward-might, tactical kicking and territorial-dominance were valid still.
Circumstances mean Meyer may be forced to play the popular youngster Patrick Lambie, 22, at flyhalf. Recently promoted fly-half Johan Goosen is out of the squad with injury.
“I wasn’t impressed with Pat’s tactical kicking before and I asked him to work on that aspect,” Meyer said. “He showed me in the Currie Cup that he has done the necessary work and I have been very impressed.”
New Zealand vs Scotland
New Zealand plays Scotland on Sunday in Edinburgh, after going through their home season unbeaten.
Coach Steve Hansen said the All Blacks were focussing on their own game in the build-up to the Scottish Test.
He said the team had played badly in the draw with Australia.
“Our set-piece was poor, out back attack was poor, our defence was poor.” said Hansen.
“We need to have a look at ourselves and fix that,” he said. “We’re well and truly capable of doing that.”
Scotland coach Andy Robinson has seven uncapped players in his squad.
“New Zealand are formidable opponents,” Robinson said. “They do the basics exceptionally well and play with a pace and ruthlessness. It’s no coincidence that they are the best team in the world.”
Peter Lalanabaravi has over 30 years experience as a rugby writer.