The French coach, Pierre Berbizier, said: "We don't know much about our opponents but we certainly can't afford to underestimate them. It's our first game in the World Cup and we can't afford to lose it."
Berbizier did announce one change, however, calling up the Toulon scrum- half Aubin Hueber instead of Guy Accoceberry to partner Yann Delaigue. The French manager, Guy Laporte, said the Tonga match and the fixture with the Ivory Coast four days later in Rustenburg would allow France to determine their best players before the vital match against Scotland in Pretoria on 3 June.
Canada and Romania, the two second-rank nations in the group that includes Australia and South Africa, go into their opening Pool A match in Port Elizabeth today knowing the loser faces almost certain elimination. For Canada, quarter-finalists at the last World Cup in 1991, the game is the first of at least two they must win to have any hopes of progressing "We have to win this one if we are to stand any chance of doing well in this tournament," said the captain, Gareth Rees.
The Romanians, who have lost their last six internationals, do not consider they have any chance in their other group fixtures against South Africa and Australia next weekend and they have been forced to leave out the captain, Tiberiu Brinza, who is suffering from a shoulder strain. Canada are boosted by the recovery from injury of the centre Christian Stewart.
FRANCE (v Tonga, Pretoria, today): J-L Sadourny (Colmiers); E N'Tamack (Toulouse), T Lacroix (Dax), P Sella (Agen), P Saint-Andre (Montferrand, capt); Y Delaigue (Toulon), A Hueber (Toulon); L Armary (Lourdes), J-M Gonzales (Bayonne), P Gallart (Beziers), O Merle (Montferrand), O Brouzet (Grenoble), A Benazzi (Agen), M Cecillon (Bourgoin), P Benetton (Agen). Replacements: S Viars (Brive), F Mesnel (Racing), G Accoceberry (Begles- Bordeaux), L Cabannes (Racing), M de Rougemont (Toulon), C Califano (Toulouse).
TONGA: S Tu'ipulotu (Manly, Aus); A Taufu (Wellington Harlequins, NZ), U Va'enuku (Kolofo'ou), P Latu (Vahelotu), T Va'enuku (Kolofo'ou); E Vunipola (Toa-ko-Ma'afu), M Vunipola (Toa-ko-Ma'afu); S Fe'ao (Queensland, Aus), F Masila (Kolompotu'a), T Fukofuka (Grammar Old Boys, NZ), W Lose (North Harbour, NZ), F Mafi (Queanbeyan, Aus), F Mahoni (Fasi Ma'ufanga), I Fenukitau (Queanbeyan, Aus), M Otai (Kia-Toa, NZ; capt). Replacements: T Isitolo (Kolofo'ou), Aa Mafi, N Tufui (Kolomotu'a), I Afeaki (Wellington, NZ), E Talakai (Suburbs, NZ), F Vunipola (Toa-ko-Ma'afu).
ROMANIA (v Canada, Port Elizabeth, today): G Solomie (Univ of Timisoaras); L Colceriu (Steaua Bucharest), N Raceanu (Univ of Cluj), R Gontineac (Univ of Cluj), I Rotaru (Dinamo Bucharest); N Nichitean (Univ of Cluj), D Neaga (Dinamo Bucharest); G Leonte (Viene, Fr), I Negreci (CFR Constanta), G Vlad, S Ciorascu (Auch, Fr; capt), C Cojocariu (Bayonne, Fr), T Oroian (Steaua Bucharest), O Slusariuc (Dinamo Bucharest), A Gealapu (Steaua Bucharest).
CANADA: S Stewart (Univ of BC OB); W Stanley (Univ of BC OB), C Stewart (Univ of BC OB), S Gray (Vancouver Kats), D Lougheed (Toronto Welsh); G Rees (Newport, capt), J Graf (Univ of BC OB); C McKenzie (Univ of BC OB), I Gordon (James Bay), A Charron (Ottawa Irish), M James (Burnaby Lake), G Ennis (Vancouver Kats), R Snow (Dogs), M Cardinal (James Bay), E Evans (Univ of BC OB).