France go light on backs

Thu, 23 Jan 2014 14:41
Large remi tales france Large philippe saint andre walks Large pascal pap    philippe sain

The trimmed 23-man French squad for the Six Nations opening round clash with England in Paris next weekend feature just nine backline players.

The trimmed 23-man French squad for the Six Nations opening round clash with England in Paris next weekend feature just nine backline players.

France coach Philippe Saint-André reduced his initial squad of 30 to 23 on Thursday and opted for an unusual balance of 14 forwards and only nine backs, Remi Tales being the only specialist flyhalf.

The seven players released are Maxime Mermoz, Sebastian Vahaamahina, Virgile Bruni, Jean-Marcellin Buttin, Jules Plisson, Geoffrey Palis and Hugo Bonneval.

Given the selection, Les Bleus will start the championship with a six-two forwards-backs split bench.

Pascal Pape will captain France after Thierry Dusautoir was ruled out of the tournament through injury.

Saint-André said the battle between the old foes is a thrilling way to kick off the Six Nations and believes it could determine the eventual champions.

"We don't start with the starter, but with the 'Rosbif', so with the main course!" said Saint-André.

"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."

France squad:

Forwards:
Thomas Domingo (Clermont), Yannick Forestier (Castres), Benjamin Kayser (Clermont), Dimitri Szarzewski (Racing Metro), Nicolas Mas (Montpellier), Rabah Slimani (Stade Francais), Alexandre Flanquart (Stade Francais), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Pascal Pape (Stade Francais), Bernard Le Roux (Racing Metro), Antoine Burban (Stade Francais), Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse), Damien Chouly (Clermont), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse).

Backs: Jean-Marc Doussain (Toulouse), Maxime Machenaud (Racing-Metro), Remi Tales (Castres), Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon), Gael Fickou (Toulouse), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Yoann Huget (Toulouse), Maxime Médard (Toulouse), Brice Dulin (Castres).

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Sat, 25 February 2017
Saracens v Sale Sharks 12h45 Allianz Park
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons 13h00 Sandy Park
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Franklin's Gardens
Ireland v France 16h50 Aviva Stadium
Stormers v Bulls 17h30 Cape Town
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Zebre v Ulster 12h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
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England v Italy 15h00 Twickenham Stadium
Mon, 27 February 2017
UCT-Ikeys v Maties 14h45 Cape Town
UWC v TUT 16h30 Cape Town
UP-Tuks v Wits 16h30 Pretoria
CPUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
CUT-Ixias v UJ 16h30 Bloemfontein
Rhodes v Fort Hare 16h30 Grahamstown
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Thu, 02 March 2017
Force v Reds 10h30 Perth
Fri, 03 March 2017
Chiefs v Blues 06h35 Hamilton
Ulster v Treviso 19h35 Kingspan Stadium
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Connacht v Zebre 19h35 Ascoli Piceno
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Hurricanes v Rebels 04h15 Wellington
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Sunwolves v Kings 10h55 Singapore
Lions v Waratahs 13h05 Johannesburg
RESULT SCORE
Sat, 25 February 2017
Cheetahs v Lions 25 | 28
Waratahs v Force 19 | 13
Crusaders v Brumbies 17 | 13
Sunwolves v Hurricanes 17 | 83
Fri, 24 February 2017
Munster v Scarlets 21 | 30
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Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 17 | 18
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 18 | 27
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CUT-Ixias v Shimlas 13 | 22
Mon, 20 February 2017
UJ v UP-Tuks 18 | 11
Maties v NMMU-Madibaz 35 | 16
UKZN-Impi v Fort Hare 16 | 10
SIX NATIONS
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Team P W D L Pts
England 2 2 0 0 8
Ireland 2 1 0 1 6
Wales 2 1 0 1 5
France 2 1 0 1 5
Scotland 2 1 0 1 5
Italy 2 0 0 2 0