Galthie sticks with squad
Coach Fabien Galthie has stuck with the same French squad that beat Wales for the England finale. Image by AP PHOTO
  • rugby union

Galthie names same France squad for England finale

AAP March 14, 2024

France coach Fabien Galthie has rewarded his young players for beating Wales by naming an unchanged line-up to face England in the Six Nations.

Galthie has even kept the same bench for the game in Lyon after his new-look France side rallied to a 45-24 record score in Cardiff last Sunday after making eight changes.

“Now this team is faced with a big challenge, beating England six days later,” Galthie said on Thursday. “They will have to stand up to it, be better than in Cardiff.”

Halfback Nolann Le Garrec is again preferred to Maxime Lucu, while centre Nicolas Depoortere, fullback Léo Barre and imposing lock Emmanuel Meafou also keep their slots following convincing Test debuts.

“If you want to talk about energy, they brought lots and lots of energy,” Galthie said. 

Le Garrec bossed the game behind the rucks against Wales and added a try for good measure.

Prop Georges-Henri Colombe made a try-scoring debut off the bench in Cardiff and is again among Galthie’s “finishers”, as he likes to call impact players in the reserves.

Prolific goalkicker Thomas Ramos resumes in a makeshift five-eighth role to allow Barre to continue at fullback and counter England’s high ball. 

Switching Ramos happened only because of a tournament-ending knee injury to first-choice five-eighth Matthieu Jalibert in the 13-13 draw against Italy, but so far it has paid off.

“Thomas is very influential at organising play, and is also (influential) on other players,” Galthie said. “In terms of managing the high points and the low points, he’s very good.”

Louis Bielle-Biarrey is on the left wing, while veteran Gael Fickou, who has started scoring tries again, partners Depoortere in midfield.

No. 8 Gregory Alldritt captains the side at Groupama Stadium, where he will be joined in the back row by experienced flankers Charles Ollivon and François Cros.

England beat defending champions Ireland 23-22 last Saturday and prevented Ireland from clinching the title. England has an outside shot at the title and France has a mathematical chance.

France: Barre, Penaud, Fickou, Depoortere, Bielle-Biarrey, Ramos, Le Garrec; Alldritt (capt), Ollivon, Cros, Meafou, Flament, Atonio, Marchand, Baille. Res: Mauvaka, Taofifenua, Colombe, Taofifenua, Roumat, Boudehent, Lucu, Moefana.