France tweak backline for Six Nations decider
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Centre Arthur Vincent replaces injured wing Teddy Thomas in France’s side to host Ireland in this weekend’s potential Six Nations decider, coach Fabien Galthie announced on Thursday.
Midfielder Gael Fickou moves to the wing as Vincent comes into the centres alongside Virimi Vakatawa for the nail-biting finish to a coronavirus-delayed tournament that sees les Bleus, this Saturday’s Irish visitors and England – who play Italy – all in a position to win the Six Nations title.
Galthie’s side must better Eddie Jones’ men’s result in Rome earlier in the day and have a better points difference to claim the competition for the first time since 2010.
Vincent, 21, started three Test matches earlier this year before the competition was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Former international scrumhalf Galthie, who has lost just once in five matches since taking over as France head coach after last year’s Rugby World Cup, said he was particularly wary of the kicking game of an experienced Ireland team.
“The collective experience is essential at international level,” Galthie said.
“Another element of selection is Ireland’s territorial strategy by attacking left and right and notably the right foot of Johnny Sexton. He kicks often left and right to put pressure on the wingers.”
Uncapped La Rochelle winger Arthur Retiere is named on the bench in the only other change in the matchday 23.
France: 15 Anthony Bouthier, 14 Vincent Rattez, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Arthur Vincent, 11 Gael Fickou, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon (captain), 6 Francois Cros, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Bernard Le Roux, 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Demba Bamba, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Dylan Cretin, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Arthur Retitere, 23 Thomas Ramos.
Date: Saturday, October 31
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 21.05 (20.05 UK & Ireland time; 20.05 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Luke Pearce (England)
— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) October 29, 2020