Rugby Match Preview: England v France – 15th March 2009

Rugby Match Preview: England v France - 15th March 2009

Simon Shaw will make his first England start under Martin Johnson after being named as one of three changes in the team to play France in Sunday’s Six Nations meeting at Twickenham.

The veteran Wasps lock, 35, has replaced Nick Kennedy in the second row while Leicester’s in-form flanker Tom Croft has edged out James Haskell at blindside.

Harlequins winger Ugo Monye returns to the side in place of Paul Sackey, who is unavailable after suffering a calf injury in England’s 14-13 defeat to Ireland.

Danny Care, who was sin-binned for a barge on Marcus Horan at a crucial stage in Dublin, has survived calls for his head and retains his place on the bench.

Shaw’s only appearance for England since Johnson took charge was off the bench against South Africa in the autumn, when he won his 50th Test cap.

While Kennedy could be considered unfortunate to miss out, Shaw brings added ballast to England’s second row against a powerful French forward unit.

Croft, who starred for Leicester against Gloucester in the Guinness Premiership last weekend, offers England an additional lineout option in the absence of Kennedy.

Gloucester loose forward Luke Narraway has dropped out of the squad altogether after earning a place on the bench against Ireland at Croke Park.

Monye, who started all four of England’s autumn Tests, suffered a back injury on the eve of the Six Nations and returns to win his fifth cap in place of Sackey. 

France coach Marc Lièvremont has handed Sebastian Chabal his first start in the back row for Sunday’s Six Nations game against England at Twickenham.

Since taking charge of the French team after the 2007 World Cup, Lièvremont has only selected the Sale Sharks player at lock.

Lievremont has also named Francois Trinh-Duc at flyhalf in one of the three other changes to the starting side that defeated Wales 21-16 in Paris a fortnight agp.

Trinh-Duc takes over from Benoit Baby, who is sidelined by an injury.

In the pack, lock Jérôme Thion replaces Romain Millo-Chluski (Achilles’ tendon) and losehead prop Lionel Faure comes in for Fabien Barcella.

“He is a versatile player,” Lievremont said of Chabal.

“He can play in both departments with just as much success. And he will be up against players he knows well.”

That will have been one of the factors behind the recall of prop Lionel Faure, Chabal’s colleague at Sale who was left out of the matchday 22 for the victory over Wales that has kickstarted France’s Six Nations campaign.

Faure replaces Fabien Barcella, who will be Les Bleus’ 23rd man on Sunday.

Thion, 31, returns after almost a year in the international wilderness and will make his 45th appearance for his country.

He has benefited from the injury to Romain Millo-Chluski and comes in at lock for Chabal, who in turn moves to number seven in place of Fulgence Ouedraogo, dropped from the squad completely.

Behind the scrum, scrum-half Morgan Parra will again assume kicking duties and will be partnered by Trinh-Duc, the young Montpellier fly-half (who wears Puma V108 boots) back in favour with Lievremont.

The Parra/Trinh-Duc axis was France’s half-back combination when they lost at home to England in last season’s Six Nations.

Trinh-Duc comes in for Baby in the only change in Les Bleus’ backline.

Bastareaud, who made an inspired debut in the 21-16 win over Wales at the Stade de France, deservedly keeps his place at centre.

Fritz is back after serving a three-week suspension for punching but has to be content with a place on the bench alongside the returning Damien Traille, who will act as cover for the fly-half and full-back positions.

Lievremont’s pack has an experienced look to it, with 30-somethings Faure, Marconnet, Thion and replacement Julien Bonnaire back involved.

“We haven’t put an accent on age,” added the head coach.

“It’s true that this team has more experience but the players who return have never left the squad of 30-40 players we have had.

“We can be happy that these players in their 30s are managing to last.”

England’s discipline has been found wanting in their opening three matches of the Six Nations, especially in the defeat to Ireland in their last tournament outing.

But Lievremont maintains it is not his intention to send his team out to provoke the English at Twickenham.

“This is not one of our strategies. It has not been mentioned in our chats, even if we will have to adapt to the way our opponent plays,” he added.

“I have seen there has been a certain form of media pressure on the referees from the England staff. I hope the referee (on Sunday) does not submit to this pressure and remains uncompromising.”

The confidence-boosting win over reigning champions Wales has boosted France’s title hopes, especially with a final match against Italy to come.

Rugby Match Preview: England v France - 15th March 2009

England: 15 Delon Armitage (London Irish), 14 Ugo Monye (Harlequins), 13 Mike Tindall (Gloucester), 12 Riki Flutey (Wasps), 11 Mark Cueto (Sale Sharks), 10 Toby Flood (Leicester), 9 Harry Ellis (Leicester), 8 Nick Easter (Harlequins), 7 Joe Worsley (Wasps), 6 Tom Croft (Leicester), 5 Simon Shaw (Wasps), 4 Steve Borthwick (Saracens, capt), 3 Phil Vickery (Wasps), 2 Lee Mears (Bath), 1 Andrew Sheridan (Sale Sharks).

Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley (Northampton), 17 Julian White (Leicester), 18 James Haskell (Wasps), 19 Nick Kennedy (London Irish), 20 Danny Care (Harlequins), 21 Andy Goode (Brive), 22 Mathew Tait (Sale Sharks).

France: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Julien Malzieu, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Yannick Jauzion, 11 Cedric Heymans, 10 Francis TrinhDuc, 9 Morgan Parra; 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Sebastien Chabal, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, 5 Jérôme Thion, 4 Lionel Nallet (c), 3 Sylvain Marconnet, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Lionel Faure.
Replacements: 16 Benjamin Kayzer, 17 Thomas Domingo, 18 Louis Picamoles, 19 Julien Bonnaire, 20 Sebastien Tillous-Borde, 21 Florian Fritz, 22 Damien Traille.

Date: Sunday, March 15
Venue: Twickenham
Kick-off: 15.00 GMT
Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)
Touch judges: Nigel Owens (Wales), Tim Hayes (Wales)
Television match official: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)