France take rare selection step for Le Crunch while Posolo Tuilagi dropped to U20s

Colin Newboult
France head coach Fabien Galthie.

France head coach Fabien Galthie.

France have kept faith with the side that defeated Wales in their previous Six Nations clash as they prepare to welcome England on ‘Super Saturday’.

Head coach Fabien Galthie has taken the rare step to name a completely unaltered 23 as they seek to end their disappointing competition on a high.

Les Bleus were stunned by a rampant Ireland outfit in Round One of the 2024 Six Nations and they followed that up with unconvincing displays against Scotland and Italy.

Superb response

They were under pressure going into their encounter with Wales, but hit back impressively and claimed a 45-24 triumph.

France were helped by the return of a couple of key players in the form of Gregory Alldritt and Thibaud Flament, but the youngsters also showed up well.

Leo Barre, Nicolas Depoortere and Emmanuel Meafou all made their debuts in Cardiff and they have been retained for Saturday’s match.

Barre is joined by Damian Penaud, who re-found his form last weekend, and Louis Bielle-Biarrey in the back three, while at centre Gael Fickou is alongside Depoortere.

Meafou and Flament formed a well-balanced lock partnership in Round Four and they get another chance together against England.

Elsewhere, man of the match from the Wales contest, Nolann Le Garrec, continues at half-back alongside the maverick playmaker Thomas Ramos.

Six Nations permutations: How England can win more games than Ireland

Up front, the back-row is formed by Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon and captain Alldritt, with the front-row a hefty trio of Uini Atonio, Julien Marchand and Cyril Baille.

The bench is also unchanged as Galthie once again opts for a 6-2 split with Peato Mauvaka, Sebastien Taofifenua, Georges-Henri Colombe, Romain Taofifenua, Alexandre Roumat and Paul Boudehent the forward replacements.

Maxime Lucu provides the half-back cover with Yoram Moefana, who can play at either centre or wing, the utility backline option.

With Galthie going for the same 23, that means Posolo Tuilagi misses out, with the youngster now lining up for the U20 team against England’s age-grade outfit on Friday.

France team to face England

France: 15 Leo Barre, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gaël Fickou, 12 Nicolas Depoortere, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Thomas Ramos, 9 Nolann Le Garrec, 8 Gregory Alldritt (c), 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 François 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: Groupama Stadium, Lyon
Kick-off: 21:00 local (20:00 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia), Damian Schneider (Argentina)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

READ MORE: Tom Mitchell exclusive: ‘Unbelievable’ Antoine Dupont is the ‘greatest example’ of sevens convert