France vs England
Six Nations 2012- 11 March, 2012- Stade de France- 16.00 CET
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has made two changes to the side that drew 17-17 with Ireland last weekend by promoting Julien Dupuy and Lionel Beauxis from the bench. Stade Francais scrumhalf Dupuy will take the place of Morgan Parra while Beauxis will slot in at No.10 instead of Montpellier’s Francois Trinh-Duc.
Both Beauxis and Dupuy have not started for France since 2009- Dupuy last started in France’s 12-39 loss to New Zealand, while Beauxis’ last starting appearance was in the 22-6 loss to Australia, also in the same year. But the players know each other well- they were a half back pairing between 2009 and 2011 at Stade Francais before Beauxis’ move to Toulouse earlier this season.
France’s hopes of securing the Grand Slam rest heavily on them beating England on Sunday. While they did beat England the last time the two sides met ( in the World Cup quarterfinal), the unpredictability of this French side makes this a tough match to call, despite England being an inexperienced side. Indeed, you could probably make easier money by playing with Cheeky Bingo than betting on the fortunes of this French outfit. They have started slowly in every game of this tournament but have managed to stay unbeaten so far – wins against Italy and Scotland and a draw against the Irish, and are still in the hunt for the GS along with Wales and England.
One player who has retained his spot despite wide calls for his exclusion is Toulouse centre Aurelien Rougerie. AR was sluggish against the Irish and even gift wrapped an intercept try for Tommy Bowe early in the game. One reason for Rougerie starting instead of the slightly lighter Maxime Mermoz would be to counter’s England’s battering ram centre pairing of Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt.
The same goes for hooker Szarzewski, who hasn’t been at his best in a French jersey this tournament. Saint-Andre has chosen to persist with him and is expected to continue employing his policy of using the more experienced William Servat as an impact sub.
Beauxis is a renowned kicker and landed all of France’s points in their 2007 RWC semifinal loss to England. Dupuy has also been known to take penalties for his club but it is expected that Beauxis will take over the kicking duties from Morgan Parra on Sunday.
Saint-Andre has resisted calls to recall Biarritz scrum half Dmitri Yachvili, who along with Parra and Trinh-Duc, has been the most widely used outhalf for Le XV in the last few seasons.