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Page last updated at 10:37 GMT, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

France name unchanged squad for Six Nations finale

RBS SIX NATIONS: France v England
Venue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Saturday, 20 March Kick-off: 1945 GMT
Coverage: Watch on BBC One, BBC HD channel, Red Button and BBC Sport website; full commentary on BBC Radio 5 live

France centre Mathieu Bastareaud
Bastareaud was outstanding in France's opening three wins

France have recalled centre Mathieu Bastareaud in the only change to their side to face England on Saturday as they target a ninth Grand Slam.

The 21-year-old was a replacement for Sunday's win over Italy, protecting a calf niggle, but is now fully fit.

He takes the place of David Marty, who scored two tries against Italy, coach Marc Lievremont restoring a player who starred in France's opening three wins.

Victory over England would seal a first French clean sweep since 2004.

It would also bring a fifth Championship title in the 11 years of the Six Nations era.

France are two points clear of Ireland at the top of the standings and such is their superior points difference (+64 to Ireland's +14) that they could lose to England and still take the title, unless the Irish beat Scotland by a considerable margin in Dublin.

We are anticipating a particularly physical encounter, at the top of the range of commitment and ferocity

France coach Marc Lievremont

Lievremont, so often criticised for his chopping and changing of personnel since taking over as coach, has retained the same front row for the fifth time in a row and prefers the relatively untried but impressive Julien Pierre at lock ahead of Sebastien Chabal.

The only change sees the formidable Bastareaud renew his superb centre partnership with Yannick Jauzion.

"David [Marty] had a great display [against Italy] but we don't forget Mathieu's very good matches at the beginning of the tournament," said Lievremont. "To have David on the bench is comforting. He will be able to add his punch during the match."

Lievremont also opted to retain the 5ft 5in wing Marc Andreu - who scored his first try for France against Italy and set up Yannick Jauzion for another on his first Test start - ahead of the more physically imposing Julien Malzieu.

"With a full-back [Clement Poitrenaud] and wings who are relatively light, we wanted to return to a more solid midfield," said the head coach.

"There was a discussion over whether to pick Marc (Andreu) or Julien (Malzieu), who has also played very well in this tournament.

"We chose Marc for his punch and dynamism, and also his aggressiveness in defence.

"We are anticipating a particularly physical encounter, at the top of the range of commitment and ferocity, certainly not seen yet in this tournament.

"England have got the players capable of hurting and punishing us."


Lievremont has yet to taste victory over England since replacing former coach Bernard Laporte after the 2007 World Cup, when Brian Ashton's team beat the hosts in a Paris semi-final.

England also won, 24-13, on their last visit to the Stade de France in 2008, and crushed Les Bleus 34-10 at Twickenham last year.

"The message we'll pass onto the players is that we haven't beaten England in a competitive game for four years now," said France defence coach Dave Ellis.

"The last time we beat them in the Six Nations was in 2006 [31-6]. Even though we won the two preparation games for the World Cup, they were just more or less friendly games.

"There is a bit of history there that we need to put right."

France team: Clement Poitrenaud; Marc Andreu, Mathieu Bastareaud, Yannick Jauzion, Alexis Palisson; Francois Trinh-Duc, Morgan Parra; Thomas Domingo, William Servat, Nicolas Mas, Lionel Nallet, Julien Pierre, Thierry Dusautoir, Julien Bonnaire, Imanol Harinordoquy.

Replacements: Dimitri Szarzewski, Jean-Baptiste Poux, Sebastien Chabal, Alexandre Lapandry, Dimitri Yachvili, David Marty, Julien Malzieu.

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see also
Poitrenaud accepts favourites tag
14 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union
France 46-20 Italy
14 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union
Johnson sees England improvement
14 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union
Scotland 15-15 England
13 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union
England 34-10 France
15 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union
France 13-24 England
23 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
England 14-9 France
13 Oct 07 |  English
France 31-6 England
12 Mar 06 |  Internationals

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