Tuesday 26 March 2019

France start with a very inexperienced half-back pairing as Jacques Brunel names his team to face Scotland

Romain Ntamack. Photo: Sandra Ruhaut/Icon Sport via Getty Images
Romain Ntamack. Photo: Sandra Ruhaut/Icon Sport via Getty Images
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

France head coach Jacques Brunel dropped scrumhalf Morgan Parra and flyhalf Camille Lopez for Saturday's Six Nations clash against Scotland but denied it had anything to do with their criticism of the staff following their Twickenham debacle.

Vice-captain Parra and Lopez pointed at the management's share of responsibility in the 44-8 defeat against England on Feb. 10 when Les Bleus looked clueless on the field.

Brunel, however denied the duo has been sanctioned when he reshuffled his cards, making four changes to unveil a new-look, young team on Tuesday.

They have been replaced by the Toulouse pair of Antoine Dupont, 22, and the 19-year-old Romain Ntamack, who rarely plays at flyhalf with his club.

"I'm telling you it's not the case (that they are sanctioned)," Brunel told reporters. "Ask them, ask their team mates."

"Given our performance (against England) we needed to change things, it's a sporting choice."

As a result, Yoann Huget shifts back to the wing after playing fullback in London and Gael Fickou is back at inside centre after playing at the wing.

Thomas Ramos, 23, will start at fullback and will be the main kicker in the absence of Parra and Lopez.

Ntamack, who started the opening game against Wales at centre, his usual club position, will have the playmaking responsibilities.

"We have been working on this with him," Brunel assured after naming his team two days ahead of schedule.

Asked if he was not showing his cards too early, Brunel replied: "After seeing our performance against England, Scotland must be pretty confident anyway."

Brunel however called on France to show their true colours at the Stade de France.

"We have to turn things around and show the real face of the France team," he said.

France have lost eight of their last nine matches.

Scotland, who have not win in Paris since 1999, started their campaign with a victory against Italy before losing to champions Ireland.

France: 15. Thomas Ramos, 14. Damian Penaud, 13. Mathieu Bastareaud, 12. Gael Fickou, 11. Yoann Huget, 10. Romain Ntamack, 9. Antoine Dupont; 1. Jefferson Poirot, 2. Guilhem Guirado (c), 3. Demba Bamba, 4. Sebastien Vahaamahina, 5. Felix Lambey, 6. Wenceslas Lauret, 7. Arthur Iturria, 8. Louis Picamoles.

Replacements: 16. Camille Chat, 17. Etienne Falgoux, 18. Dorian Aldegheri, 19. Paul Willemse, 20. Gregory Alldritt, 21. Baptiste Serin, 22. Anthony Belleau, 23. Maxime Medard.

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