Six Nations

France ring the changes

2015-03-12 13:00
Philippe Saint-Andre (AFP)

Marcoussis - France have made wholesale changes for their Six Nations Championship match against Italy on Sunday following their disappointing defeat to Wales two weeks ago.

The side announced on Thursday by coach Philippe Saint-Andre shows no fewer than eight changes from the starting line-up against the Welsh in Paris, when the French looked out of sorts and succumbed 13-20.

Four of those changes are forced on him through injuries to key players, but Saint-Andre had already hinted that changes were in the air when he blasted his players for not living up to their hype and "hiding behind smokescreen" after Wales had killed off France's Six Nations hopes.

"I've been covering for them for three years. The France jersey should bring out your best, you should be a gladiator," he said.

The most significant change in the pack sees experienced prop Nicolas Mas, with 76 caps to his name, come in for Rabah Slimani who drops to the bench.

Mas, 34, said the French, who won their last Six Nations title in 2010, were determined to show what they can do in their final two matches against Italy, and England on March 21.

"All of us, even those who started the three matches, are hungry. We want to show that we deserve much more," said Mas of France who sit fourth in the table which is lead by Ireland.

"Now I have my chance, I have to give it everything," Perpignan prop Mas continued.

"But we have to think about the team above all, we need to build confidence. Even if we can't win the tournament (Italy and England) are two important matches."

Also dropped are No.8 Damien Chouly and lock Romain Taofifenua, both found wanting against the Welsh. Their places are taken by Loann Goujon and Alexandre Flanquart.

Elsewhere, Saint-Andre keeps faith with Camille Lopez at fly-half, but wing Noa Nakaitaci makes his debut in place of the injured Sofiane Guitoun, while at centre, the untried pairing of Maxime Mermoz and 20-year-old Gael Fickou replace Remi Lamerat and Wesley Fofana, both ruled out trough injury.

At fullback, Scott Spededing returns in place of Brice Dulin after the latter's ineffectual display in Paris.


Italy: TBA

France: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Noa Nakaitaci, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Loann Goujon, 7 Bernard Le Roux, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Alexandre Flanquart, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Eddy Ben Arous

Substitutes: 16 Benjamin Kaiser, 17 Rabah Slimani, 18 Vincent Debaty, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Damien Chouly, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Jules Plisson, 23  Mathieu Bastareaud

Read more on:    france  |  six nations  |  philippe saint-andre  |  rugby


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