Marconnet misses out on France RWC squad
France will head for New Zealand without their most experienced forward after coach Marc Lièvremont announced his 30-man squad for Rugby World Cup 2011 on Sunday.
There is no place for 84-cap veteran Sylvain Marconnet, nor his fellow prop Thomas Domingo, who had been struggling with injury after suffering knee ligament damage in April. They are the only changes from the 32-man pre-tournament training squad.
The captain is Toulouse flanker Thierry Dusautoir, who features in a back row that will be a match for any side in the tournament, even without the star of 2007, Sebastien Chabal. The Racing Metro loose forward began the Six Nations campaign as a run-on selection but his fortunes had waned by the end of the championship, losing his place for the Wales match.
Lièvremont can also call on the skilful Basque number 8 Imanol Harinordoquy and the ever-reliable Julien Bonnaire.
Domingo, who had been the first-choice loosehead prop during the 2011 Six Nations, was always facing a race to be fit for the World Cup after sustaining the injury playing for his club, Clermont Auvergne. The powerful loosehead Fabien Barcella, who missed last season with an Achilles injury, is in the squad after coming off the bench in France’s 26-22 win over Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
In the backs, much will be expected from the half-back pairing of Morgan Parra and Francois Trinh-Duc if France are to finally land the biggest prize in rugby union. Les Tricolores have twice made the final and twice lost: in 1987 against New Zealand and 1999 against Australia, when Lièvremont played in France’s back row.
France possess a variety of pace and power in the backs, with the Toulouse pair of Vincent Clerc and Maxime Médard offering speed in the back three. Elsewhere, France’s two 100kg-plus three-quarters Damien Traille and Aurélien Rougerie, both 193cm tall, offer a solid response to the physical challenge posed by New Zealand and Tonga in Pool A.
There are 13 survivors from France’s last Rugby World Cup campaign, which ended in semi-final defeat by England: Jean-Baptiste Poux, Nicolas Mas, Dimitri Szarzewski, Lionel Nallet, Bonnaire, Harinordoquy and Dusautoir in the forwards, David Skrela, David Marty, Rougerie, Clerc, Cédric Heymans and Traille in the backs.
Poux, Harinordoquy, Rougerie and Traille also figured in 2003, as did Dimitri Yachvili, although he missed out on selection in 2007.
France depart for New Zealand on Monday August 29 and begin their tournament against Japan on September 10 at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland.
France squad for RWC 2011:
Forwards: Fabien Barcella, Julien Bonnaire, Luc Ducalcon, Thierry Dusautoir (captain), Imanol Harinordoquy, Guilhem Guirado, Nicolas Mas, Romain Millo-Chluski, Raphael Lakafia, Lionel Nallet, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Pascal Pape, Louis Picamoles, Julien Pierre, Jean-Baptiste Poux, William Servat, Dimitri Szarzewski.
Backs: Vincent Clerc, Patrice Estebanez, Cédric Heymans, David Marty, Maxime Médard, Maxime Mermoz, Alexis Palisson, Morgan Parra, Aurélien Rougerie, David Skrela, Damien Traille, Francois Trinh-Duc, Dimitri Yachvili.
Squad subject to RWCL approval
- South Africa
- New Zealand