France name unchanged squad for Scots scrap
FRANCE coach Philippe Saint-André has not made any changes to his squad for the Six Nations clash with Scotland at Murrayfield on February 26.
Saint-André has named the same 23 players that he had assembled ahead of Saturday's ill-fated clash with Ireland, which was called off just minutes before kick-off due to freezing conditions at the Stade de France.
Biarritz scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili is omitted as he continues to battle back pain, meaning Stade Francais' Julien Dupuy remains in the squad as cover.
"We preferred to keep Julien Dupuy as Dimitri Yachvili still has his back problems," said Saint-André. "This is more consistent. Everyone did the preparation together. It was difficult to remove someone from the group."
The squad will re-assemble at their training base near Paris on Sunday afternoon. Saint-Andre will name his starting XV for the match on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, France lock Sebastien Chabal, sacked this month by Top 14 club Racing-Metro, is to play a one-off match for suburban Australian rugby club Balmain on February 25, local media reported today.
The hulking 34-year-old, nicknamed 'caveman' and unmistakable for his long hair and bushy beard, has played 62 times for France and had indicated on French television this week that he was going to play in Australia.
Most had assumed that would mean a deal with one of Australia's Super Rugby teams but a report in Sydney's Daily Telegraph revealed that the inner city suburb of Balmain was his destination.
"We contacted them (Racing) in December about him coming over to play some games in between when the French season finished and when the new one started," Balmain club president Warren Livingstone said. "I sold him on seeing Australia in between the games."
The Balmain match against Petersham will not mean obscurity for Chabal, however, as it is being played as a curtain-raiser for the New South Wales Waratahs' Super Rugby opener against champions Queensland Reds at Sydney's Olympic Stadium.
Balmain play in second division "subbies", three levels below top-flight club rugby, but have had internationals in their ranks before, with Wallabies Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell turning out for the club last season.
France squad -- Forwards: David Attoub, Vincent Debaty, Nicolas Mas, Jean-Baptiste Poux, William Servat, Dimitri Szarzewski, Pascal Pape, Yoann Maestri, Lionel Nallet, Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Louis Picamoles, Imanol Harinordoquy.
Backs: Morgan Parra, Julien Dupuy, Francois Trinh-Duc, Lionel Beauxis, Aurelien Rougerie, Maxime Mermoz, Wesley Fofana, Vincent Clerc, Julien Malzieu, Maxime Medard.