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France to test winning formula against England

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: France coach Fabien Galthie said on Thursday it was “ideal” to be able to name an unchanged side to face England in a potential Six Nations decider this weekend.

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Galthie kept faith with his squad from last week’s 45-24 win over Wales for the home match in Lyon against Steve Borthwick’s England on Saturday.

He had made eight changes before the win over Wales after a drab draw with Italy previously but has no injury or suspension worries before this weekend’s match.

“It’s ideal to be able to keep the same team. The team won, put in a great performance last weekend,” Galthie told reporters.

“The team had changed a lot. It’s what we had felt for a while.

“We chose to do things with consistency, we preferred to see what happened on the field, feel energy and react,” he added.

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Gregory Alldritt captains the side with Leo Barre, Nicolas Depoortere, Emmanuel Meafou and Georges-Henri Colombe keeping their places after making their debuts in Cardiff.

It is the first time for Galthie to keep the same starting line-up from one match to another since last February.

Nolann Le Garrec remains at scrumhalf after his man-of-the-match performance on his first start with Maxime Lucu on the bench despite scoring a try in the Millennium Stadium win.

Regular scrumhalf and captain Antoine Dupont is unavailable as he prepares to play Sevens at this year’s Paris Olympic Games.

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Le Garrec, as well as fellow new faces fullback Barre, centre Depoortere, lock Meafou and replacement prop Colombe all brought much-needed energy to the team.

“The joy is when players create competitiveness between them, when they all want to wear the jersey and go grab it,” Galthie said.

“When we open the door to new players because we feel need energy, we get the response straight away, that’s also the joy.”

England can win the Six Nations with a bonus-point victory in Lyon if table-topping Ireland lose to Scotland earlier in the day without a bonus point.

France also have a chance of lifting the title, if they beat England with a bonus point, Ireland suffer defeat without a bonus point and there is a significant points difference swing in Les Bleus’ advantage.

France: 15 Leo Barre, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Nicolas Depoortere, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Thomas Ramos, 9 Nolann Le Garrec, 8 Gregory Alldritt (captain), 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Emmanuel Meafou, 4 Thibaud Flament, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Sebastien Taofifenua, 18 Georges-Henri Colombe, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Alexandre Roumat, 21 Paul Boudehent, 22 Maxime Lucu, 23 Yoram Moefana.

Date: Saturday, March 16
Venue: OL Stadium, Lyon
Kick-off: 21.00 (20.00 UK & Ireland time; 20.00 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia), Damian Schneider (Argentina)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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