Sunday 22 July 2018

Jacques Brunel names teenage fly-half in France squad for Six Nations opener with Ireland

Matthieu Jalibert
Matthieu Jalibert

Charlie Morgan

Uncapped, 19 year-old Bordeaux Bègles fly-half Matthieu Jalibert is the stand-out name from an exciting squad of 32 announced by newly-appointed France head coach Jacques Brunel for his side’s opening Six Nations clash against Ireland on February 3.

Brunel, who replaced Guy Noves last month, arrived in his position from Bordeaux and is therefore well aware of Jalibert’s rare attacking ability.

La Rochelle loosehead prop Dany Priso is another eye-catching inclusion, while Lyon flanker Felix Lambey, Racing 92 tighthead prop Cedate Gomes Sa, Castres full-back Geoffrey Palis and Bordeaux back-rower Marco Tauleigne make it six uncapped players on the list.

All in all, there are 17 players under the age of 25 in the group, which will be also be coached by Brunel’s lieutenants Julien Bonnaire, Sébastien Bruno and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde.

Notable absentees are Louis Picamoles, Baptiste Serin and Francois Trinh-Duc, although Matheiu Bastareaud is named pending the outcome of an EPCR hearing into his alleged homophobic slur during Toulon’s win over Benetton on Sunday.

After hosting Ireland, France travel to Scotland before hosting Italy and England. They end the Six Nations with an away tie against Wales.

France won just three of their 11 Tests in 2017, their trio of wins coming in the Six Nations thanks to triumphs over Scotland, Italy and Wales.

However, a 3-0 series defeat in South Africa last June foreshadowed a hugely underwhelming autumn campaign that featured a 23-23 draw with Japan.

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