France squad unchanged for England clash
March 5, 2012
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has resisted the urge to freshen up his squad © Getty Images
France have named an unchanged squad to face England in the Six Nations at the Stade de France on Sunday.
Coach Philippe Saint-Andre has resisted the temptation to freshen up his squad in the wake of their bruising 17-17 draw with Ireland yesterday as they prepare for what will be the third of four Championship clashes in as many weeks.
"Bizarrely, it was only a draw but it was our best performance since the start of the Six Nations," Saint-Andre said following his side's latest Stade de France outing. "Statistics showed that we dominated but did not win."
The stalemate with the Irish left France in second place in the table, a point behind Triple Crown winners and Grand Slam-chasing Wales with two games remaining. "We can still win the tournament," added Saint-Andre. "And we will prepare for a big match against England."
Scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili had been tipped for a recall having proved his fitness with a 25-point haul - including two tries - in Biarritz's 38-13 victory over Bordeaux-Begles at the weekend but Saint-Andre opted to stick with Julien Dupuy as his back-up No.9.
Saint-Andre has denied the move is political with a strong Biarritz presence in the French coaching team with attack coach Patrice Lagisquet still on the books of the struggling Top 14 giants.
"We were tempted by Dimitri Yachvili," Saint-Andre said. "But what would you say to Julien Dupuy, who hasn't been given a single minute to sink his teeth into?
"We wanted to see Julien Dupuy because of his strong season with Stade Français. He's played some important games for France. He started against South Africa in Toulouse (when France won 20-13 in 2009). We wanted to see him and so far we've only seen him in the stands."
Elsewhere, veteran hooker William Servat has been linked with a promotion to the starting line-up having started on the bench on Sunday while centre Maxime Mermoz has also been tipped to step up following an uncharacteristic poor showing from Aurelien Rougerie.
Backs: C Poitrenaud, V Clerc, A Rougerie, W Fofana, M Mermoz, J Malzieu, F Trinh-Duc, L Beauxis, M Parra, J Dupuy.
Forwards: J Bonnaire, I Harinordoquy, L Picamoles, T Dusautoir, L Nallet, Y Maestri, P Pape, D Attoub, V Debaty, N Mas, J Poux, D Szarzewski, W Servat.
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