France coach Philippe Saint-André has released seven players back to their clubs for this weekend’s Top 14 action, and retained a 23-man group that will face England a week on Saturday in the opening round of the Six Nations.
Maxime Mermoz, Sebastian Vahaamahina, Virgile Bruni, Jean-Marcellin Buttin, Jules Plisson, Geoffrey Palis and Hugo Bonneval have all been released, leaving Rémi Tales as the only recognised fly-half in the squad. Toulouse’s Jean-Marc Doussain will provide cover.
Pascal Papé captains the squad in the absence of the injured Thierry Dusautoir. There are also only nine backs in the squad, offering an early indication that Saint-André will name a six-two forwards to backs ratio on the bench.
“We don’t start with the starter, but with the ‘Rosbif’, so with the main course!” laughed France coach Philippe Saint-André at yesterday’s Six Nations launch. “It’s always a huge game against England and the atmosphere will be special.
“The Six Nations is a fantastic event especially when France play against England. Some people don’t have a clue about rugby, but each year they sit in front of the TV to watch France against England. It’s about history.”
Forwards: Thomas Domingo (Clermont), Yannick Forestier (Castres), Benjamin Kayser (Clermont), Dimitri Szarzewski (Racing-Métro), Nicolas Mas (Montpellier), Rabah Slimani (Stade Français), Alexandre Flanquart (Stade Français), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Pascal Papé (Stade Français, captain), Bernard Le Roux (Racing-Métro), Antoine Burban (Stade Français), Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse), Damien Chouly (Clermont), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse).
Backs: Jean-Marc Doussain (Toulouse), Maxime Machenaud (Racing-Métro), Rémi Talès (Castres), Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon), Gaël Fickou (Toulouse), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Yoann Huget (Toulouse), Maxime Médard (Toulouse), Brice Dulin (Castres).
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images