Six Nations 2014: Philippe Saint-Andre makes seven changes to France side
Six Nations 2014: Philippe Saint-Andre makes seven changes for France's clash against Scotland this weekend
Philippe Saint-Andre has made seven changes to his team for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Scotland at Murrayfield.
The magnitude of the changes comes from a number of injuries and the former France winger pulling no punches after a galling 27-6 defeat to Wales in Cardiff in their last outing – their biggest against Wales since 1950.
Sebastien Vahaamahina is selected in the back row at blindside with Yannick Nyanga injured and the Perpignan lock is joined by Clermont Auvergne’s Alexandre Lapandry on the openside in place of Wenceslas Lauret.
Number eight Damien Chouly comes in for Louis Picamoles – a player in form, but dropped by Saint-Andre for sarcastically applauding referee Alain Rolland after being yellow carded at the Millennium Stadium.
It isn’t just the back row where France have problems.
Castres hooker Brice Mach comes in for the injured Dimitri Szarzewski, who was a replacement for Benjamin Kayser and France’s set-piece could again come under serious scrutiny.
But Mach will have solid support in the front row with Thomas Domingo and Nicolas Mas either side of him while captain Pascal Pape continues in the second row alongside Yoann Maestri.
France have won their last seven matches against Scotland and start as overwhelming favourites at Murrayfield despite their Grand Slam charged being brutally ended by Wales.
History is on France’s side – winning 14 of their 15 encounters with Scotland since the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa with Scotland’s only win in that period being a 20-16 win in 2006.
The big absentee in the backs for France is injured centre Wesley Forfana who is replaced by Toulon’s Maxime Mermoz to partner Top14 team-mate Mathieu Bastareaud with Gäel Fickou providing cover from the bench.
Toulouse’s Maxime Medard is recalled in favour of Hugo Bonneval on the left wing as Brice Dulin (full-back) and Yoann Huget (right wing) continue in the back three.
Saint-Andre had been set to start Clermont Auvergne scrum-half Morgan Parra, but his red card in the Top 14 and subsequent ban gives his Racing Metro counterpart a start Maxime Machenaud instead of Jean-Marc Doussain who has underwhelmed so far, with Jules Plisson continuing at outside-half.
Scotland: S Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); T Seymour (Glasgow), A Dunbar (Glasgow), M Scott (Edinburgh Rugby), S Lamont (Glasgow); D Weir (Glasgow), G Laidlaw (Edinburgh); R Grant (Glasgow), S Lawson (Newcastle Falcons), G Cross (Edinburgh), R Gray (Castres), J Hamilton (Montpellier), J Beattie (Montpellier), K Brown (Saracens, captain), D Denton (Edinburgh).
Replacements: R Ford (Edinburgh), A Dickinson (Edinburgh), E Murray (Worcester Warriors), T Swinson (Glasgow), R Wilson (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Glasgow), D Taylor (Saracens), M Evans (Castres).
France: B Dulin (Castres); Y Huget (Toulouse), M Bastareaud (Toulon), M Mermoz (Toulon), M Medard (Toulouse); J Plisson (Stade Francais), M Machenaud (Racing Metro); T Domingo (Clermont Auvergne), B Mach (Castres), N Mas (Montpellier), Y Maestri (Toulouse), P Pape (Stade Francais, captain), S Vahaamahina (Perpignan), A Lapandry (Clermont Auvergne), D Chouly (Clermont Auvergne).
Replacements: G Guirado (Perpignan), V Debaty (Clermont Auvergne), R Slimani (Stade Francais), A Flanquart (Stade Francais), A Claassen (Castres), J-M Doussain (Toulouse), R Tales (Castres), G Fickou (Toulouse).