England and France brimming with confidence
PARIS, 12 October - England and France arrive at their semi-final match brimming with confidence after defeating their more favoured southern hemisphere rivals.
After a difficult start to the world cup, Brian Ashton and Bernard Laporte's sides turned the tournament on its head when they defeated Australia and New Zealand respectively last weekend.
Both coaches have kept favour with the same match-day 22s for the semi-final.
Laporte has retained Damien Traille at full back and fly half Lionel Beauxis, who starts his third consecutive RWC 2007 match, with their kicking game expected to play an important part again.
Serge Betsen also returns at flanker, despite being taken off early in the match against New Zealand after a serious knock. Mercurial fly half Frédéric Michalak, whose introduction inspired France's comeback against the Kiwis, again starts on the bench.
Team manager Jo Maso said it was a no-brainer to start the same 22.
"We want the best team to beat the English. We have played five matches and kept the team spirit of the group, and so we continue."
Captain Raphael Ibanez admitted that he was still haunted by France's 24-7 semi-final loss to England at RWC 2003, but said they were committed to stopping England's progress to the final.
"It's the kind of match that stays in the memory. It's still lingering in my thoughts but I'm not worrying about it. I don't think it helps much to dwell on it."
England have been riding a wave of momentum courtesy of their 12-10 quarter-final defeat of Australia, Ashton picking the first unchanged England team for 28 Tests.
Full back Jason Robinson wins his 50th cap, a week after flanker Lewis Moody.
Captain Phil Vickery will again anchor England's scrum alongside Andrew Sheridan, who was man of the match in the win against Australia.
While he was happy with how the side stepped up against the Wallabies, Ashton said the team were wary of playing France at home.
"We are playing the host nation in their home stadium, they are going to have the crowd behind them. We need to go up a gear and improve in all areas," he said.
"They (France) are an extremely difficult team to play against. We should have won the game at Twickenham (England lost the warm-up Test 21-15 in August), so we can go into Saturday with confidence."
"We (England and France) both put on performances (in the quarter-finals) that were a step up from what we have done previously."
England blindside flanker Martin Corry said neither could afford to be complacent.
"Look at this world cup and form and history and what's happened in the past counts for nothing. (It's about) Who turns up and produces the better rugby on the day, " he said.
"We've seen throughout the tournament that that can be anyone. We have played them (France) three times this season. We know their game as such, they know ours. Both sides will be tinkering with their game plans a little bit. The last three games have got no bearing on this result."
Kick-off is at 21:00 (CET).