Battle lines drawn for Paris showdown
March 9, 2012
Lionel Beauxis will fills the France No.10 shirt for Sunday's Stade de France clash © Getty Images
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has opted to freshen up his half backs ahead of the Six Nations clash with England in Paris on Sunday.
Francois Trinh-Duc and Morgan Parra have been axed in the wake of the side's 17-all draw with Ireland last weekend in favour of Lionel Beauxis and Julien Dupuy. Beauxis returns to the starting line-up at fly-half for the first time since 2009, while Dupuy replaces Parra in the No.9 jersey after a similarly long spell on the sidelines. In the pack, Julien Bonnaire continues at openside, with Imanol Harinordoquy at No.8, and Louis Picamoles among the replacements.
In contrast, England have named an unchanged side as they look to bounce back from their defeat to Wales a fortnight ago. As a result, Owen Farrell retains the No.10 shirt despite the return to fitness of Charlie Hodgson who must settle for a place on the bench. Farrell's impressive international debut at fly-half in the 19-12 defeat to the Welsh drew comparison with Jonny Wilkinson and he keeps the role in an unchanged starting line-up for the Stade de France showdown.
Hodgson, who started at fly-half with Farrell at inside centre in England's wins against Scotland and Italy, returns from a finger injury to replace Toby Flood on the bench. Stade Francais lock Tom Palmer also returns to the 22-man squad with a seat on the bench after Courtney Lawes was ruled out of the tournament with a shin injury.
Hodgson is Saracens' first-choice fly-half and Farrell lines up in the centres at club level, which was how England started their Six Nations campaign. But Farrell's mature performance at Twickenham two weekends ago has pushed him ahead of Hodgson as England's first choice playmaker.
England's starting line-up features only five of the side that started the 19-12 World Cup quarter-final defeat to France in October - Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Dan Cole and Tom Croft. France, who went on to reach the World Cup final, have not lost at home in 10 Six Nations games. Charlie Sharples was a late replacement for the injured David Strettle with the Gloucester winger set to makes his first start.
France: C Poitrenaud (Toulouse), V Clerc (Toulouse), A Rougerie (Clermont Auvergne), W Fofana (Clermont Auvergne), J Malzieu (Clermont Auvergne); L Beauxis (Toulouse), J Dupuy (Stade Francais); JB Poux (Toulouse), D Szarzewski (Stade Francais), N Mas (Perpignan), P Pape (Stade Francais), Y Maestri (Toulouse), T Dusautoir (Toulouse), J Bonnaire (Clermont Auvergne), I Harinordoquy (Biarritz)
Replacements: W Servat (Toulouse), V Debaty (Clermont Auvergne), L Nallet (Racing Metro), L Picamoles (Toulouse), F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), M Parra (Clermont Auvergne), M Mermoz (Perpignan)
England: B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton Saints), M Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), B Barritt (Saracens), C Sharples (Gloucester); O Farrell (Saracens), L Dickson (Northampton Saints); A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), M Botha (Saracens), G Parling (Leicester Tigers), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Morgan (Scarlets).
Replacements: R Webber (London Wasps), M Stevens (Saracens), T Palmer (Stade Francais), P Dowson (Northampton Saints), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers), C Hodgson (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins).
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ire)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wal), John Lacey (Ire)
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September