France coach Galthie reveals his hand for Ireland clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: France head coach Fabien Galthie said on Thursday he had “no surprises” in his unchanged starting team to face Ireland in the Six Nations this weekend.
Les Bleus, the defending champions who are ranked second in the world, have made changes to their bench for Saturday’s visit to the side top of the standings.
The France squad have been together since late January, having spent time in the Atlantic coast town of Capbreton before recovering from Sunday’s 29-24 win over Italy in Rome this week.
“There are no surprises in the starting line-up, nor among the finishers,” Galthie told reporters.
“What is behind the selection is the performance and the bonus point victory, with our objectives achieved.
“The coherence too, it’s three weeks that we’ve worked with the starting line-up.”
“Also, there’s the search for consistency,” he added.
Toulouse flank Francois Cros comes in for La Rochelle lock Thomas Lavault and Lyon scrumhalf Baptiste Couilloud replaces Racing 92’s Nolan Le Garrec after the narrow win over the Azzurri.
Cros, 28, has made 16 Test appearances since his France debut shortly before the 2019 Rugby World Cup, after which Galthie took over as coach.
“He was with us during the Grand Slam in 2022, and the successful November series before that,” Galthie said.
“He has great knowledge of the team and the international level.”
Couilloud, 25, captained the side during the 2020 Nations Cup final.
“Baptiste Couilloud has also significant experience with us,” Galthie said. “He also has potential.”
Cros’ club teammate, loose forward Anthony Jelonch, keeps his place despite sitting out full training on Wednesday.
“Anthony was rested,” Galthie said.
“In high intensity matches, some players need a little bit more time to recover.
“It was the case for Anthony, who had a great game in Rome.”
Galthie has yet to take his side to a full Aviva Stadium in Dublin, with the fixture two years ago played without supporters due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’ll play at a full Aviva, with fans present.
“I often tell the players, welcome to the sublime, the magnificent… I ask them, who wouldn’t want to be there at kick-off? Who wouldn’t want to go out there?
“The crowd will be Ireland’s 16th man but they aren’t going to be on field, they won’t tackle, they won’t push in the scrum, they won’t accelerate on the field.”
“It will be 15 men against 15 men,” he added.
The match against Ireland takes place less than seven months out from the start of the World Cup, which France will host.
France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Yoram Moefana, 11 Ethan Dumortier, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain), 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Anthony Jelonch, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Thibaud Flament, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Gaetan Barlot, 17 Reda Wardi, 18 Sipili Falatea, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Francois Cros, 21 Sekou Macalou, 22 Baptiste Couilloud, 23 Matthieu Jalibert.
Date: Saturday, February 11
Venue: Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Kick-off: 14.15 (14.15 GMT; 15.15 France time)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand))
☘️🆚🇫🇷 Notre deuxième match du #SixNations 2023 nous amène à Dublin pour y défier 𝒍𝒂 𝒎𝒆𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒆𝒖𝒓𝒆 𝒆́𝒒𝒖𝒊𝒑𝒆 𝒅𝒖 𝒎𝒐𝒏𝒅𝒆 !
💪 Rendez-vous samedi ! #NeFaisonsXV #XVdeFrance #IRLFRA pic.twitter.com/eAfWyYyg3I
— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) February 9, 2023