Nations Cup: France changes 8, Scotland has a new front row


EDINBURGH, Scotland – Matthieu Jalibert replaced injured Romain Ntamack in the half butterfly among eight changes made to the France squad to face Scotland in the Autumn Nations Cup on Sunday at Murrayfield.

Like France, Scotland will field a new front row after beating Italy 28-17 last weekend.

With France full-back Anthony Bouthier also injured, Thomas Ramos intervenes and has a duty to kick.

“We spoke with Matthieu, he wants to be a regular starter,” said coach Fabien Galthie. “It’s his time now and he knows what to do.”

Teddy Thomas was on the right wing and Vincent Rattez passed to the left, allowing Gael Fickou to return to crosses alongside Virimi Vakatawa.

The powerful and fast Fickou was deployed on the wing in the 35-27 victory over Ireland three weeks ago at the Six Nations, which saw France finish in second place.

The flanker Dylan Cretin replaced François Cros, injured, and the bolt Romain Taofifenua took the place of Paul Willemse.

The first row was also new: Jean-Baptiste Gros, Camille Chat and Demba Bamba replaced Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand and Mohamed Haouas.

“We had to change our team to have more movement and to freshen things up,” said Galthie. “All of this helps us to grow, to make all our players stronger. What makes us happy is that there are players emerging on our side. This gives us confidence in our desire to become a great world rugby nation again.

Galthie has said he would have selected the same team against Fiji last Sunday, only to have that game called off due to coronavirus cases at the Fiji camp. France won a 28-0 victory.

Scotland handed France their only Six Nations loss, winning 28-17 at Murrayfield on March 8 before the COVID-19 crisis put an end to sports.

Scotland have won five consecutive victories. Another Sunday would equal his national record reached only in 1925-26 and 1989-90.

But coach Gregor Townsend insists they are more motivated by winning the tournament than making history.

The winner at Murrayfield will be favored to reach the final.

“The opportunity is to win this game and what that would mean for this group in terms of qualifying for the final to play for the first or second in a few weeks,” Townsend said.

“We know what a challenge France is going to bring us – one of the best teams, if not the best team in the world right now, so that’s all we think about.

Townsend picked a new front row from Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown and Simon Berghan, and sacked Matt Fagerson to 8th after injuring his ankle in the win over Georgia last month.

The only change in the back line was Blair Kinghorn on the right wing in place of his Edinburgh teammate Darcy Graham.

The Saracens back Sean Maitland and Duncan Taylor – who last participated in the 2019 Rugby World Cup – also join the reserves.



Scotland: Stuart Hogg (captain), Blair Kinghorn, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Duhan van der Merwe, Duncan Weir, Ali Price; Matt Fagerson, Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie, Jonny Gray, Scott Cummings, Simon Berghan, Fraser Brown, Oli Kebble. Reserves: George Turner, Jamie Bhatti, Zander Fagerson, Sam Skinner, Blade Thomson, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Duncan Taylor, Sean Maitland.



France: Thomas Ramos, Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa, Gael Fickou, Vincent Rattez, Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Dupont; Gregory Alldritt, Charles Ollivon (captain), Dylan Cretin, Romain Taofifenua, Bernard Le Roux, Camille Chat, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Demba Bamba. Reserves: Julien Marchand, Cyril Baille, Mohamed Haouas, Paul Willemse, Cameron Woki, Baptiste Couilloud, Louis Carbonel, Arthur Vincent.


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