Rougerie back for France
August 16, 2011
Rougerie lined up for the French during the Six Nations but was originally a doubt for the World Cup © Getty Images
France coach Marc Lievremont has opted to make 13 changes for his side's final Rugby World Cup warm-up clash against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
Les Bleus claimed a 19-12 victory over the Irish last weekend but Lievremont has opted for change over continuity with winger Alexis Palisson and hooker Dimitri Szarzewski the only players to retain their places.
The wholesale changes include the long-awaited return of Aurelien Rougerie who has recovered from an ankle injury to reclaim a place in the midfield where he will partner Fabrice Estebanez. Soon-to-be Bayonne back Cedric Heyman starts at fullback with Maxime Medard taking the wing berth opposite Palisson.
David Skrela and Morgan Parra form a new-look half-back combination with the former expected to take over the kicking duties from Dimitri Yachvilli who moves onto the bench.
Nicolas Mas is back in the front-row but there is no place for injured duo William Servat or Thomas Domingo with Jean Baptiste Poux stepping into the loose-head berth. Lionel Nallet will captain the side, taking over the duties from Thierry Dusautoir, while Fulgence Ouedraogo, Julien Bonnaire and Louis Picamoles all start in the back-row.
Defending his decision to give all his players the chance to impress, Lievremont said: "It's a warm-up game. We need to play these guys. We're on course for the World Cup and it was out of the question to make 15 players sweat blood and tears and not make the others play. From the moment we chose to play two warm-up games, and I don't regret that choice, everybody had to play."
France: Cedric Heymans (Bayonne); Maxime Medard (Toulouse), Aurelien Rougerie (Clermont), Fabrice Estebanez (Racing-Metro), Alexis Palisson (Brive); David Skrela (Clermont), Morgan Parra (Clermont); Julien Bonnaire (Clermont), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier); Lionel Nallet (Racing-Metro, capt), Pascal Pape (Stade Francais); Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Francais), Jean-Baptiste Poux (Toulouse).
Replacements: Guilhem Guirado (Perpignan), Fabien Barcella (Biarritz), Julien Pierre (Clermont), Raphael Lakafia (Biarritz), Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz), Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), Luc Ducalcon (Castres).
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'