France will head to Japan for Rugby World Cup 2019 without experienced backs Mathieu Bastareaud and Morgan Parra after the pair were left out of Jacques Brunel’s 37-man squad.
Head coach Brunel named a training squad on Tuesday that included the 31 players he hopes to use at Japan 2019 as well as a standby list of six.
However, centre Bastareaud and injured scrum-half Parra – who have won 125 test caps between them and both played in Les Bleus’ quarter-final defeat to New Zealand four years ago – were omitted alongside wing Teddy Thomas and prop Uini Atonio.
🇫🇷 Voici les 37 joueurs retenus pour la préparation de la Coupe du Monde 2019 au Japon ! Il est composé d'un premier groupe de 31 joueurs et de 6 suppléants ! #XVdeFrance #RWC2019 #NeFaisonsXV pic.twitter.com/FeJWbSUmDS— Fédération Française de Rugby (@FFRugby) June 18, 2019
In total, nine players named by Brunel in the 37-man party have previous Rugby World Cup experience. They include eight players who represented France at England 2015.
Captain Gulhem Guirado and former skipper Louis Picamoles are in line to appear at a third tournament, having also played a part in France’s run to the final in New Zealand.
Veteran back Maxime Medard was also part of the squad that lost to the All Blacks in the final eight years ago but missed out on selection for Rugby World Cup 2015.
Competition for places
France, who are due to fly to Japan on 2 September, will begin their preparations for the tournament on 25 June when those players not involved in the Top 14 play-offs meet at the Fédération Française de Rugby's (FFR) National Rugby Centre.
All 37 players named on Tuesday have been made aware of their status within the squad and will be given bespoke training schedules to ensure the squad arrives at the tournament in peak shape.
Les Bleus, who have contested three Rugby World Cup finals without lifting the Web Ellis Cup, will play home-and-away warm-up matches against Scotland on 17 and 24 August before facing Italy in Paris on 30 August.
Brunel’s side have been drawn in Pool C, and will open their Japan 2019 campaign against Argentina in Tokyo on 21 September. England, the USA and Tonga complete their pool.
On Bastareaud’s omission, Brunel – who will step down after the Rugby World Cup – said: "He is in a position full of competition with players in form. I'm thinking of Sofiane Guitoune who has been very good. I wasn't sure if Guitoune could keep up his form during the whole season but he did."
Forwards: Gregory Alldritt, Demba Bamba, Yacouba Camara, Camille Chat, Paul Gabrillagues, Guilhem Guirado (captain), Arthur Iturria, Felix Lambey, Wenceslas Lauret, Bernard Le Roux, Peato Mauvaka, Jefferson Poirot, Louis Picamoles, Dany Priso, Emerick Setiano, Rabah Slimani, Sebastien Vahaamahina
Backs: Geoffrey Doumayrou, Antoine Dupont, Gael Fickou, Wesley Fofana, Sofiane Guitoune, Yoann Huget, Camille Lopez, Maxime Machenaud, Maxime Medard, Romain Ntamack, Damian Penaud, Alivereti Raka, Thomas Ramos, Baptiste Serin
Reserves: Anthony Belleau, Francois Cros, Etienne Falgoux, Charles Ollivon, Vincent Rattez, Paul Willemse