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France field inexperienced team to face England in Autumn Nations Cup final

France field inexperienced team to face England in Autumn Nations Cup final

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - International Test - France v Wales - Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France - October 24, 2020 France coach Fabien Galthie before the match REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS: France coach Fabien Galthie named an inexperienced and youthful team as expected to face a seasoned England side in the Autumn Nations Cup final, making six changes for Sunday's clash at Twickenham.

An agreement between the federation and the league meant that no player could be involved in more than three France matches during the autumn international window, leaving Galthie to name a team boasting a total of 68 caps - to England's 813.

"We read headlines saying 'England showdown thrown into a farce'. I can tell you that our players are worthy of the cap they're earning," manager Raphael Ibanez told a news conference.

"We will be ready on Sunday, I can assure you that we will be ready," said Galthie.

Having already had to cope without the vast majority of his first team in their previous encounter against Italy, Galthie was also forced to leave scrumhalf Baptiste Serin and wing Teddy Thomas out of the side to face England.

Fullback Brice Dulin, with 30 international tests under his belt, is the most experienced player named in the side ahead of flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert, who has seven caps, in a team averaging 23.8 years old.

Number eight Selevasio Tolofua is the only uncapped player to start but five others have just a single cap to their name.

"England have years of collective experience and we have a young team who've had only two training sessions together," Galthie said.

Les Bleus, however, are where they wanted to be.

"When we started together, we wanted France to be back among the world's top nations and we wanted to be title contenders," said Galthie, who has led France to seven wins in eight tests since he took over this year.

France finished second in the Six Nations behind England on points difference despite beating Eddie Jones's team in the championship's opening round of games.

"We were joint top of the Six Nations and now we're contesting for the title," added Galthie, who drew some positives from being obliged to leave out his top players for Sunday.

"These inexperienced players needed to learn quickly and they have been learning quickly," he said.

"This period gave us, the staff, the opportunity to work on our method. We worked on method version number one, then on version number two (against Italy), and now on version number three.

"We have had the opportunity to improve on what we can offer our players in terms of preparation."

15-Brice Dulin, 14-Alivereti Raka, 13-Yoram Moefana, 12-Jonathan Danty, 11-Gabin Villiere, 10-Matthieu Jalibert, 9-Baptiste Couilloud, 8-Selevasio Tofofua, 7-Anthony Jelonch, 6-Cameron Woki, 5-Baptiste Pesenti, 4-Kilian Geraci, 3-Dorian Aldegheri, 2-Pierre Bourgarit, 1-Hassan Kolingar

Replacements: 16-Peato Mauvaka, 17-Rodrigue Neti, 18-Uini Atonio, 19-Guillaume Ducat, 20-Sekou Macalou, 21-Sebastien Bezy, 22-Louis Carbonel, 23-Pierre-Louis Barassi

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Toby Davis)

Source: Reuters


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