Claassen gets France call-up
Antonie Claassen (Getty Images)
Paris - South African-born flanker Antonie Claassen on Monday was called up by coach Philippe Saint-Andre for the 23-strong French squad to prepare for the Six Nations match against England at Twickenham on February 23.
Claassen, 28, was one of five changes to the squad that went down 16-6 to Wales at the Stade de France on Saturday leaving France winless after two games and bottom of the Six Nations standings.
Others to be called up were prop Thomas Domingo, lock Christophe Samson, flanker Yannick Nyanga and winger Vincent Clerc.
Left out were Yannick Forestier, Romain Taofifenua, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Damien Chouly and Maxime Mermoz.
Claassen, the son of former Springbok player Wynand Claassen, is the ninth foreign-born player to be included in a French international line-up, the last being another South African centre, Brian Liebenberg, in 2003. He currently plays for French club Castres.
The 31-year-old Clerc is back for his 65th cap after missing the defeats to Italy and Wales due to a hamstring injury. He is currently France's second-highest try scorer with 34, four behind full-back Serge Blanco.
Domingo and Nyanga are also seasoned France internationals, while Castres lock Samson won his only cap to date as a replacement against Argentina last June.
The two losses to Italy and Wales is the worst start to a Five/Six Nations tournament for the French since 1982 and they will be facing an England team full of confidence after wins over Scotland and Ireland.
The France squad for the Six Nations match against England at Twickenham on February 23:
Fowards: Vincent Debaty (Clermont), Thomas Domingo (Clermont), Benjamin Kayser (Clermont), Dimitri Szarzewski (Racing-Mtro), Luc Ducalcon (Racing-Mtro), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Christophe Samson (Castres), Jocelino Suta (Toulon), Antonie Claassen (Castres), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse, capt), Yannick Nyanga (Toulouse), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse)
Backs: Maxxime Machenaud (Racing-Mtro), Morgan Parra (Clermont), Frdric Michalak (Toulon), Franois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Mathieu Bastareaud (Toulon), Vincent Clerc (Toulouse) Benjamin Fall (Racing-Mtro), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Florian Fritz (Toulouse), Yoann Huget (Toulouse)