France keep their 'losing' formula
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: France coach Fabien Galthie named an unchanged side on Thursday to host Wales in a potential Six Nations Grand Slam decider this weekend.
Galthie said he retained the side because he was “satisfied” with the loss to England last week.
Second row forward Romain Taofifenua kept his place after the loss to England despite Bernard Le Roux’s return from injury – as the South African-born lock is named as a substitute for Saturday’s match at the Stade de France.
Flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert and flank Dylan Cretin also keep their places.
The visitors can claim a second tournament clean sweep in three years with a win in Paris.
“We’re very satisfied with the performance of the team in general,” Galthie said.
“We’re very satisfied with the potential of this team too.
“In Twickenham, we felt a lot of potential and strength in this team and what we need to do a week later is to bounce back against Wales with the potential that is at the heart of this team,” he added.
The former Test captain stuck with Jalibert, Taofifenua and Cretin in favour of Romain Ntamack and Anthony Jelonch, and Swann Rebbadj who are on the substitutes’ bench.
There are three new faces among the reserves as Galthie reverted to five forwards and three backs.
Prop Uini Atonio comes in for Dorian Aldegheri, Rebbadj replaces the injured Cyril Cazeaux and flanker Cameron Woki drops out for centre Arthur Vincent.
Regular lock Bernard Le Roux, who was expected to return to the bench, was left out after failing to recover sufficiently from the thigh injury that caused him to miss the England game.
Galthie’s men need a bonus-point victory and to beat Scotland in a re-scheduled fixture next Friday to clinch the title for the first time since 2010.
The former Les Bleus scrumhalf said his side’s goal is to win the fixture before looking for the four tries or more for the additional points in the table.
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“It doesn’t change much in our preparation. The focus is on this match, is to perform well against this opposition and to win the game,” he said.
“Then there will be elements to consider.”
France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Teddy Thomas, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon (captain), 6 Dylan Cretin, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Romain Taofifenua, 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Julian Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Swann Rebbadj, 20 Anthony Jelonch, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Romain Ntamack, 23 Arthur Vincent.
Date: Saturday, March 20
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 21:00 (20.00 UK Time, 20.00 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England) & Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Wayne Barnes (England)