Tag Archives: francais

Jerome Fillol spits at Peter Stringer in Bath 20 Stade Francais 36

Stringer hits back at Fillol after spitting storm as Bath bow out of Amlin Cup


15:44 GMT, 6 April 2013



11:00 GMT, 7 April 2013

Peter Stringer was furious after being spat at by opposing scrum-half Jerome Fillol as Bath crashed out of Europe.

The Irish No 9 hopes his rival from Stade Francais will be hit with a long ban for the ugly bust-up which he labelled 'the lowest of the lows'.

Today, Stringer took to Twitter to further express his view at the incident, posting: 'Disgusted at what happened yesterday in the game. No place for it in rugby or any walk of life.'

Scroll down for video of the moment Stringer calls 'the lowest of the low'

'Lowest of the lows': Peter Stringer (left) gets spat on by Jerome Fillol of Stade Francais

'Lowest of the lows': Peter Stringer (left) gets spat on by Jerome Fillol of Stade Francais

Fillol v Stringer

Rivals: The pair in action, with Stringer (left) attempting to tackle Fillol

Rivals: The pair in action, with Stringer (left) attempting to tackle Fillol

VIDEO Jerome Fillol SPITS at Peter Stringer

Fillol could face a possible 10-week suspension if found guilty after losing his cool at a ruck.

Stringer, capped 98 times, was clearly upset and asked referee Nigel Owens if he had witnessed the incident.

The Welsh referee did not see Fillol
spit but the citing commissioner will take a dim view and the Frenchman
can expect the book to be thrown at him.

Claas act: But Michael Claassens' try was not more than a consolation for Bath

Claas act: But Michael Claassens' try was not more than a consolation for Bath

Stringer said: 'It's the lowest of
the lows and has no place on a rugby field. It's out of my hands now but
as it was seen on TV, hopefully it will be dealt with.'

The English challenge in the Amlin
Cup ended as Bath meekly bowed out. Two converted tries from Fijian
winger Waisea Vuidravuwalu and two penalties set up a 20-3 halftime lead
for the visitors.

No way through: Tom Biggs is tackled by Stade Francais' Hugo Bonneval

No way through: Tom Biggs is tackled by Stade Francais' Hugo Bonneval

Down and out: Bath players react to defeat

Down and out: Bath players react to defeat

Bath spent 20 minutes against 14 men
after Rabah Slimani and then Scott Lavalla were sin-binned, allowing
the home side back with a penalty try.

But a brace from Hugo Bonneval
stretched Stade's lead. Bath pulled tries back through Michael Claassens
and Jack Cuthbert but it was too late to avoid defeat.

Heineken Cup quarter-final previews 2013

Your weekend guide to the Heineken Cup: Three English sides in the last eight

Rob Wildman


21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013



21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

Harlequins, Saracens and Leicester will be flying the flag for the Aviva Premiership in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals this weekend.

Here, Sportsmail tells you everything you need to know ahead of one of the most eagerly anticipated weekend's of the season…

Flying the flag: Manu Tuilagi starts for Leicester against Toulon

Flying the flag: Manu Tuilagi starts for Leicester against Toulon

Clermont Auvergne v Montpellier

(Saturday: Stade Marcel Micheli, 3.40pm, live on Sky Sports 1)

Clermont are favourites to extend a run of 58 successive home wins. Wales’ Lee Byrne and Scotland’s Nathan Hines face Scot Johnnie Beattie.


Harlequins v Munster

(Sunday: The Stoop, 2pm, live on Sky Sports 2)

England captain Chris Robshaw returns for Quins’ bid for a first semi-final. Munster are boosted by return of lock Paul O’Connell and wing Simon Zebo.


Home tie: Owen Farrell is in the Saracens side to face Munster at Twickenham

Home tie: Owen Farrell is in the Saracens side to face Munster at Twickenham

Saracens v Ulster

(Saturday: Twickenham, 6.30pm, live on Sky Sports 1)

Saracens opt for fly-half Owen Farrell over Charlie Hodgson. They also recall Scotland flanker Kelly Brown. Ulster welcome prop John Afoa.


Toulon v Leicester

(Sunday: Stade Felix Mayol, 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2)

Leicester name same starters for third week running. Toby Flood faces former Newcastle colleague in Jonny Wilkinson. Prop Andrew Sheridan starts.


Amlin Challenge Cup — quarter-final

Bath v Stade Francais

(Saturday: The Rec, 1pm, live on Sky Sports 1)

Bath move Horacio Agulla to centre for Matt Banahan. Nick Abendanon returns on wing. Italy captain Sergio Parisse is in a Stade team alongside ex-Wallaby flanker David Lyons.


France squad for autumn internationals

Teenager Fickou given chance to shine for France in autumn internationals



11:55 GMT, 16 October 2012

Highly-rated centre Gael Fickou is one of several new faces included in France's 33-man squad for their autumn internationals.

The 18-year-old has been compared with former England three-quarter Jeremy Guscott after excelling with Toulouse, and has now been given the chance to impress national head coach Philippe Saint-Andre.

Pierrick Gunther, Vincent Martin, Jocelino Suta (all Toulon), Jules Plisson (Stade Francais), Eddy Ben Arous (Racing Metro) and Sebastien Vahaamahina (Perpignan) have also been called up to the international fold for the first time ahead of France's fixtures against Australia, Argentina and Samoa in November.

One to watch: Gael Fickou (right) has been called up by France

One to watch: Gael Fickou (right) has been called up by France


Forwards: E Ben Arous, T Domingo, Y Forestier, B Kayser, C Tolofua, D
Szarzewski, D Attoub, V Debaty, N Mas, Y Maestri, P Pape (vice-captain),
J Suta, S Vahaamahina, D Chouly, T Dusautoir (captain), P Gunther, W
Lauret, F Ouedraogo, L Picamoles

Backs: M Machenaud, M Parra, F Michalak, J Plisson, F Trinh-Duc, V
Clerc, B Dulin, B Fall, G Fickou, W Fofana, F Fritz, Y Huget, V Martin, M

Saint-Andre chose to rest several notable names during France's two-Test series in Argentina, which they drew 1-1.

Among those absent was captain Thierry Dusautoir, who returns to the side although 71-cap veteran Aurelien Rougerie has been omitted.

“We were very happy with the three centres taken in Argentina this summer,” Saint-Andre said in L'Equipe. 'Aurelien just returned and has not played a lot of matches with Clermont.

Danny Care and James Haskell recalled to England team

Lancaster recalls Care and Haskell for series finale against South Africa



08:40 GMT, 21 June 2012

Danny Care and James Haskell will make their long-awaited international returns in England's third Test against South Africa on Saturday.

The pair were both included as head coach Stuart Lancaster named a team containing six personnel changes for the clash at Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Scrum-half Care was dropped earlier this year following a series of off-field incidents, while flanker Haskell has not played since the World Cup last autumn after opting to play domestic rugby in Japan and New Zealand.

Care and attention: The scrum-half has been recalled to the England team

Care and attention: The scrum-half has been recalled to the England team

England team to play South Africa

A Goode (Saracens); C Ashton (Northampton), J Joseph (London Irish), M Tuilagi (Leicester), B Foden (Northampton); T Flood (Leicester), D Care (Harlequins); A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Hartley (Northampton, capt), D Cole (Leicester), T Palmer (Stade Francais), G Parling (Leicester), T Johnson (Exeter), J Haskell (Otago Highlanders), T Waldrom (Leicester).

Replacements: L Mears (Bath), J Marler (Harlequins), M Botha (Saracens), P Dowson (Northampton), L Dickson (Northampton), O Farrell (Saracens), B Barritt (Saracens).

Prop Alex Corbisiero and lock Tom
Palmer also return, while No 8 Thomas Waldrom and full-back Alex Goode
come in for their first full caps.

Care has been preferred to Lee Dickson, who is on the bench, after injury to Ben Youngs necessitated a change at scrum-half.

The 25-year-old Harlequins half-back
impressed on his one previous outing on the tour against the Southern
Barbarians in Kimberley last week. Haskell's opportunity has arisen
after influential captain Chris Robshaw was forced out of the match with
a broken thumb.

Return: Haskell hasn't played since the World Cup

Return: Haskell hasn't played since the World Cup

He will take the openside role with
Palmer coming in for Mouritz Botha. Waldrom replaces Ben Morgan at the
back of the scrum while Corbisiero, now fully recovered from a biceps
operation and a knee injury, takes over from Joe Marler at loosehead.

Goode's elevation to the team sees Ben Foden switch back to the wing from full-back with David Strettle dropping out.

Lancaster said: 'I am really pleased
for Alex. He has worked hard in training and has been pushing Mike
Brown and Ben Foden close so we are looking forward to him bringing his
footballing skills to this Test.

'Danny Care, likewise, has bided his
time in a very competitive position, knuckled down and deserves his
chance, as has James Haskell, who has played this season for the
Highlanders at No 7.

'We felt that the pack got some
momentum in the second half last week so we have gone for Alex and Tom
but I am sure Joe Marler and Mo Botha can make an impact from the

Centre Brad Barritt, who needed
stitches in a cut eyeball after the first Test, returns on the bench.
England are looking for a consolation win after defeats in the first two
Tests in Durban and Johannesburg.

Danny Care and James Haskell start for England

Care and Haskell given chance to impress as Lancaster rings changes for tour match



14:55 GMT, 11 June 2012

England will field a completely changed side in their tour match against South Africa's Southern Barbarians in Kimberley on Wednesday.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster will rest most of the side beaten by South Africa in the opening Test on Saturday and give the other members of his squad a chance to impress.

Flanker James Haskell, who has not played for England since last year's World Cup, is given an opportunity after not being considered for the first Test in Durban.

Chance to impress: Lancaster and Care relax during training on Monday

Chance to impress: Lancaster and Care relax during training on Monday

England team to face Sourthern Barbarians in tour match at GWK Park, Kimberley, on Wednesday, June 13:

A Goode (Saracens); D Strettle (Saracens), A Allen (Leicester), J Turner-Hall (Harlequins), C Wade (London Wasps); C Hodgson (Saracens), D Care (Harlequins); M Mullan (Worcester), J Gray (Harlequins), P Doran Jones (Northampton), G Kitchener (Leicester), G Robson (Harlequins, capt), J Haskell (Otago Highlanders), C Fearns (Bath), T Waldrom (Leicester).

Replacements: T Youngs (Leicester), R Harden (Gloucester), T Palmer (Stade Francais), J Gibson (London Irish), L Dickson (Northampton), G Lowe (Harlequins), N Abendanon (Bath).

The 27-year-old only linked up with the squad last week after completing domestic commitments in New Zealand and it was felt the tour's first midweek game was a more realistic first chance to play.

Scrum-half Danny Care will also start at GWK Park as he bids to resurrect his international career.

The 25-year-old Harlequins back was dropped for the RBS 6 Nations earlier this year after a series of off-field incidents.

Wing David Strettle, who missed the first Test with a calf injury, is given a chance to prove his fitness ahead of the second clash with the Springboks in Johannesburg next weekend.

High hopes: Haskell is looking to work his way back into England's side

High hopes: Haskell is looking to work his way back into England's side

Prop Alex Corbisiero, whose return after
a biceps operation has been delayed by a jarred knee, is not included
in Wednesday's team.

Bath's Nick Abendanon, called up to the squad as replacement for the injured Mike Brown, has been named among the substitutes.

Prop Paul Doran Jones, who came off the bench in the 22-17 loss at Kings Park on Saturday, will start at tighthead. Tom Palmer and Lee Dickson, who also had replacements' roles at the weekend, will again be on the bench.

Harlequins' uncapped lock George Robson will captain the side.
Lancaster said: 'Every one of the 22 is desperate to play.

Handing over the reins: Robson (left) takes over the captaincy from Chris Robshaw (right)

Handing over the reins: Robson (left) takes over the captaincy from Chris Robshaw (right)

'They have trained superbly and their attitude while waiting for their chance has been first class.

'There is a lot of competition for places across the board and Wednesday gives these players a chance to lay down a marker and for the whole squad to build some momentum towards Saturday's Test.

'George (Robson) has had a tremendous season for Harlequins and has made a great contribution to this tour already, both in training and as part of the leadership group, and I know he will captain the team well.

'Only Ugo Monye and Alex Corbisiero will not have had any game time by the end of Wednesday but there will still be three matches to go and their opportunity will come.'

Christian Wade starts for England against Barbarians

Wade gets his chance: Wasps winger given Baa-Baas opportunity ahead of Springboks tour



10:24 GMT, 25 May 2012

Christian Wade will get a chance to press his claims for the Test series against South Africa after being named in a strong England team to face the Barbarians.

The exciting Wasps wing has been selected ahead of David Strettle and is the only member of the England back division who did not feature in the RBS 6 Nations.

Wade finished second in the Aviva Premiership try-scoring charts this season – touching down nine times in 15 games – despite missing three months of the campaign through injury.

Chance to shine: Christan Wade has been named in the England starting XV

Chance to shine: Christan Wade has been named in the England starting XV


B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton Saints), B Barritt (Saracens), O Farrell (Saracens), C Wade (London Wasps); C Hodgson (Saracens), L Dickson (Northampton Saints); M Stevens (Saracens), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), P Doran Jones (Northampton Saints), M Botha (Saracens), T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Johnson (Exeter Chiefs), C Fearns (Bath Rugby), P Dowson (Northampton Saints, capt).

Replacements: L Mears (Bath Rugby), M Mullan (Worcester Warriors), J Launchbury (London Wasps), J Gibson (London Irish), R Wigglesworth (Saracens), J Joseph (London Irish), A Goode (Saracens).

England coach Stuart Lancaster is without his 18-strong Leicester and Harlequins contingent, who meet in the Premiership final on Saturday.

Charlie Hodgson returns to fly-half, where he started the Six Nations, and Owen Farrell reverts to inside centre with Brad Barritt shifting to outside centre.

Lee Dickson continues at scrum-half with full-back Ben Foden and wing Chris Ashton completing England's near full-strength back division.

Up front, Dylan Hartley starts at hooker in his first game back after serving an eight-week ban for biting Stephen Ferris in England's Six Nations victory over Ireland in March.

Hartley will be propped by Matt Stevens, who starts on the loosehead side, and Paul Doran-Jones while Mouritz Botha and Tom Palmer pack down in the second row.

Uncapped flankers Carl Fearns and Tom Johnson start in the back row either side of captain Phil Dowson.

Unlike the Welsh Rugby Union, England do not award caps for games against the Barbarians – but Lancaster views it is a vital preparation for the forthcoming five-match, three-Test tour.

And for a player like Wade, it is an early opportunity to prove he is ready for a first Test cap against the Springboks.

Leader: Phil Dowson steps in as captain for the game in the absence of Chris Robshaw

Leader: Phil Dowson steps in as captain for the game in the absence of Chris Robshaw

'We are treating this as a very important game for setting the foundations for the tour,” Lancaster said.

'The players have been excellent this week and have been fully focussed as we are looking to build on the momentum of the Six Nations.

'This is a really important milestone in our preparation for South Africa.

'With the Leicester and Harlequins players unavailable it's a great opportunity for those other players involved in the Six Nations to lead the way.

Tough summer: Stuart Lancaster has to pick a squad for the summer tour to South Africa

Tough summer: Stuart Lancaster has to pick a squad for the summer tour to South Africa

'Some of the younger players have a chance to put a marker down and get their first taste of international rugby such as Christian Wade on the wing, Joe Launchbury, Alex Goode and Jonathan Joseph on the bench.

'Being able to name a back line very similar to the Six Nations and the strength we have in the forwards with the likes of Tom Johnson and Carl Fearns, who played in this game last year, is a real positive.'

With Manu Tuilagi on Premiership final duty, England have returned to the Hodgson-Farrell-Barritt combination that started the Six Nations.

Toby Flood's availability for the tour remains uncertain, although things are expected to become clearer later today when Leicester name their team for the final.

All hail the Chiefs: Devon upstarts aim to take another scalp in a season of shocks

All hail the Chiefs: Devon upstarts aim to take another scalp in a season of shocks



20:12 GMT, 30 March 2012

There was heavy demand for sun cream and bottled water at Sandy Park this week.

There was barely a cloud to be seen but Exeter's head coach, Rob Baxter, spied one – metaphorically speaking.

Sportsmail's arrival in Devon was the problem.

'You'll jinx it,' he joked, in
reference to a sensational season which sees the Chiefs still fighting
on two fronts: domestically and in Europe.

Victory: Exeter cemented their play-off ambitions with a dramatic victory at Gloucester last week

Victory: Exeter cemented their play-off ambitions with a dramatic victory at Gloucester last week

It could equally have been a reference to the club's general health and growth – with an increasingly successful team backed up by financial stability, development plans and strong support.

But Baxter was wary of the recognition, adding: 'As a coach, you become suspicious if people start saying nice things, that's when it can all go wrong.'

He may prefer to remain beneath the radar, but that is becoming difficult for Exeter. Last week they won at Gloucester to consolidate their fifth place in the Aviva Premiership table.

Victory over London Irish at home today could lift them into the play-off zone if Northampton falter at Bath.

Next week, Baxter takes his side to Paris for an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final against Stade Francais, and the possibility of seizing another prized scalp to add to a growing collection.

This season the Chiefs have done the double over Leicester and Wasps to confirm their emergence as a major force.

Towering above his rivals: Exeter coach Rob Baxter

Towering above his rivals: Exeter
coach Rob Baxter

What confounds those outside the South West is how they have managed it without a roll-call of blue-chip names in their squad.

Starting at the top in the search for an explanation, chief executive Tony Rowe said: 'We've grown an ethos here. I joined the club 20 years ago as a sponsor and it had an old-fashioned, family feel about the place. That still exists today.

'Rob (Baxter) has been at the club since I've been here. His father was the chairman when I joined so he understands the ethos. It is a big family here. Everyone wants to do their best for the club, they enjoy their work and when it comes to the players, that comes out on the pitch. They play for each other and enjoy playing with each other.

'We've got some former Royal Marines here as fitness coaches and they inject a certain esprit de corps. You don't give up, you never give up. That showed at Gloucester.'

Rowe describes Baxter as 'unique'.

He is the ultimate club stalwart: Fourteen years as a player at Exeter, 10 of them as captain, then the 41-year-old took over as head coach and oversaw promotion to the Premiership in 2010.

In the eyes of many, he is a shoo-in for the Coach of the Year award but he is as wary of acclaim for himself as he is of high praise for his team.

'I can't speak highly enough of the coaching staff and conditioning staff we've got here, and allied with a squad of players who are better than people probably think they are, we've been able to maintain a level of consistency,' he said.

'As coaches we try to show the players that if they work hard and give it a go, we will back them 100 per cent, whatever the result. There aren't egos here, we've got a great set of guys and we talk a lot about maintaining standards.

'We don't expect the players to make a mess in the changing room and if they do, they get told. We don't expect guys who get given hundreds of pieces of kit to turn up in the wrong kit. We don't expect guys who are working for four hours a day to turn up late.'

Exeter have a handful of international players, led by the Argentina pair Gonzalo Camacho and Ignacio Mieres.

International Chief: Gonzalo Camacho adds flair to Exeter

International Chief: Gonzalo Camacho adds flair to Exeter

But the spirit of the club is summed up by the unheralded graft of the likes of Baxter's brother Richard, who will make his 400th appearance on Saturday at No 8 and captain Tommy Hayes – the lower-profile brother of former Ireland prop John Hayes.

Of the English contingent, flanker Tom Johnson has come closest to Test recognition, having played in the non-cap game against the Barbarians at Twickenham last summer and several times for the Saxons.

He accepts the importance of the club's team ethic.

'Down here, everyone fits into the club culture, the coaches haven't brought in celebrities and superstars whom you have to accommodate,' he said.

'It has been very enjoyable, surprising people with how we've done in the Premiership. Even last week when we went to Gloucester I don't think many people gave us a chance but because we've already earned a lot of league points we could go there and play with the shackles off.

Aiming high: Rob Baxter

Aiming high: Rob Baxter

This year we've developed more weapons to our armoury. We're playing a bit wider and starting to off-load more.

'Teams had pegged us as one-dimensional so perhaps that's why we are still surprising them.'

As for where it can all lead, Baxter revealed that he and his squad have allowed themselves to aim high since the new year, knowing that they were safe in the Premiership.

With Northampton still to come to Sandy Park on April 22, he said: 'We're enjoying ourselves. If that means we can make one or two of the teams in the top four look over their shoulder we'll relish that.'

With his sights on the bigger picture, Rowe admitted that a top-six finish for a place in the Heineken Cup next season would be beyond his initial expectations and perhaps even beyond what the club can realistically cope with in the short term.

But in the long term – amid plans for a staged expansion of the ground to increase capacity beyond 20,000 and approval for a new training base just across the M5 – he has grand ambitions, saying: 'We want to be the best club in Europe. That is the target. In time, we will be the best in Europe. I know that. I'm sure of it.'

Six Nations 2012: France squad for Wales

France coach shuffles pack ahead of Grand Slam decider for Wales



14:30 GMT, 12 March 2012

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has reshuffled his squad ahead of their final RBS 6 Nations clash against Wales on Saturday.

Les Bleus head to Cardiff looking to derail Welsh hopes of landing the Grand Slam and Saint-Andre has made six changes, the most notable of which sees 19-year-old Clermont back Jean-Marcellin Buttin called up for the first time.

Tweak: Philippe Saint-Andre has called up the uncapped Jean-Marcellin Buttin

Tweak: Philippe Saint-Andre has called up the uncapped Jean-Marcellin Buttin

Julien Pierre, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Dimitri Yachvili, Alexis Palisson and Florian Fritz were all named as Saint-Andre reacts to yesterday's 24-22 home defeat to England which ended France's title hopes.

Julien Dupuy, Maxime Mermoz, Julien Malzieu and Lionel Nallet all make way while Vincent Clerc has a shoulder injury. There are also injury doubts over Thierry Dusautoir (knee), Imanol Harinordoquy (knee) and Julien Bonnaire (elbow).


Forwards: J Poux (Toulouse), N Mas (Perpignan), V Debaty (Clermont), D
Attoub (Stade Francais), D Szarzewski (Stade Francais), W Servat
(Toulouse), P Pape (Stade Francais), Y Maestri (Toulouse), J Pierre
(Clermont), T Dusautoir (Toulouse, captain), F Ouedraogo (Montpellier), J
Bonnaire (Clermont), I Harinordoquy (Biarritz), L Picamoles (Toulouse).

Backs: M Parra (Clermont), D Yachvili (Biarritz), F Trinh-Duc
(Montpellier), L Beauxis (Toulouse), W Fofana (Clermont), A Rougerie
(Clermont), F Fritz (Toulouse), A Palisson (Toulon), J Buttin
(Clermont), C Poitrenaud (Toulouse)

England unchanged for France test

Lancaster keeps faith with team beaten by Wales as England go for it in France



10:02 GMT, 9 March 2012

Owen Farrell has retained the England fly-half jersey for Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash with France, despite the return to fitness of Charlie Hodgson.

Farrell's impressive international debut at fly-half in England's 19-12 defeat to Wales drew comparison with Jonny Wilkinson and he keeps the role in an unchanged starting line-up for the Paris showdown.

Hodgson, who started at fly-half with Farrell at inside centre in England's wins against Scotland and Italy, returns from a finger injury to replace Toby Flood on the bench.

Standing tall: England need to show character to respond from their defeat to Wales when they travel to France

Standing tall: England need to show character to respond from their defeat to Wales when they travel to France

ENGLAND v France

Starting XV: B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton Saints), M Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers), B Barritt (Saracens), D Strettle (Saracens); O Farrell (Saracens), L Dickson (Northampton Saints); A Corbisiero (London Irish), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), M Botha (Saracens), G Parling (Leicester Tigers), T Croft (Leicester Tigers), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Morgan (Scarlets).

Replacements: R Webber (London Wasps), M Stevens (Saracens), T Palmer (Stade Francais), P Dowson (Northampton Saints), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers), C Hodgson (Saracens), M Brown (Harlequins).

Stade Francais lock Tom Palmer also
returns to the 22-man squad with a seat on the bench after Courtney
Lawes was ruled out of the tournament with a shin injury.

Lancaster said: 'We were really
disappointed to lose to Wales but we took a lot out of the performance
and felt it was right to pick the same starting team to go to Paris.

'It will be a massive challenge going
to the Stade de France and playing against an experienced and unbeaten
French side but we are excited about the opportunity and want to do the
country proud.'

Hodgson is Saracens' first-choice
fly-half and Farrell lines up in the centres at club level, which was
how England started their Six Nations campaign.

But Farrell's mature performance at
Twickenham two weekends ago has pushed him ahead of Hodgson as England's
first choice playmaker.

England's starting line-up features
only five of the side that started the 19-12 World Cup quarter-final
defeat to France in October – Ben Foden, Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Dan
Cole and Tom Croft.

France, who went on to reach the World
Cup final, have not lost at home in 10 Six Nations games following
their 17-17 draw with Ireland last weekend.

Alex King: The insider – French danger men for England

Alex King: The insider – French danger men for England



23:38 GMT, 8 March 2012

Alex King, former Wasps fly-half and now assistant coach at Clermont Auvergne, gives the inside track on France's danger men ahead of Le Crunch in Paris on Sunday…

Wesley Fofana Centre, Clermont Auvergne, Age: 24, Caps: 3
X-factor: Wesley Fofana of France

X-factor: Wesley Fofana of France

Wesley took his chance when the France regulars were away at the World Cup last autumn and has not looked back since – three tries in three games is quite a start to his international career. He's worked incredibly hard at his game, he's very powerful and his attitude is spot on. He came to the club on Monday and warned me he is going to score two more against England. When he arrived here at 18 he was a bit overweight but the academy system at the club has brought him through all that. He's got the X-factor and has the ability to change a game through a big tackle, kick-and-chase or a line break. He's got all the skills.

Julien Dupuy Scrum-half, Stade Francais, Age: 28, Caps: 7

He's a scrum-half who I really rate. An opportunist who is always on the look-out for an opening, as Leicester found to their benefit when he played a full season in England. Has the ability to make a break out of nothing.

Julien Bonnaire Flanker, Clermont Auvergne, Age: 33, Caps: 73

Julien returned very frustrated after the World Cup and has had the honesty to say that this could well be his last Six Nations. He's a very good line-out technician and is very strong and a versatile back-rower. He has become very important for both us and France.

Julien Malzieu Wing, Clermont Auvergne, Age: 28, Caps: 19
Julien Malzieu of France (right)

Powerful: Julien Malzieu of France (right)

'Zen' has come back to top form after one or two injuries last season. He was very disappointed to miss out on the World Cup and has a point or two to prove now that he's back in the squad. He's very powerful and is an extremely good finisher.

Clement Poitrenaud Full back, Toulouse, Age: 29, Caps: 45

Poitrenaud must be one player England will be looking at targeting. A great attacker and exciting player but also one who can make mistakes. England will look to put him under pressure from the word go.

Aurelien Rougerie Centre, Clermont Auvergne, Age: 31, Caps: 74

'Ro-Ro' is a legend. He is our figurehead. He's become a very experienced guy who has been there and done it. Centre has become his position, which enables him to get into the game and to use his physicality. He was a bit quiet against Ireland and so will be ready for a big show.