France trims squad to 23 for England clash

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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

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5 comments on “France trims squad to 23 for England clash

  1. Mermoz and Buttin dropped and only one recognised fly-half. Is PSA asking for problems?

    Looking forward to seeing Fickou get some game time

    • To be fair, the back three is still Medard, Huget and Dulin so I can see why Mermoz was let go.

      Also Jean-Marc Doussain looked like he could definitely do a good job at 10 in the Toulouse Saracens game. He’ll probably cover 9 and 10 from the bench, seems more than adequate.

      France’s issues will come in the front 5 – probably the worst front 5 in the 6N, but their back line looks like it could shape up really well.

      • Domingo has given Cole a torrid time on the occasions they’ve met before, if Wilson is out injured as well then I’m not too sure we’ll have ascendency in the tight (should be fitter and get round the pitch better though).

        • Domingo is top class at scrum time, top class is general to be fair, Mas is past it, can think of four or five tight heads in the NH hemisphere who are much better.

          Hooker and Locks are really not strong. Pape is a leader but again, well past it.

  2. ‘The worst front 5′ With Domingo and Mas in the front row? Behave. That said glad to see Michalak dropped not that Trinh-Duc wasn’t wven in the initial squad let alone the 23