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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 March, 2005, 19:47 GMT
France facing uphill task - Maso
France team manager Jo Maso
Jo Maso, France team manager, says it is now "nearly impossible" for his side to retain the Six Nations title.

France still have a very slim chance if they beat Italy by a substantial margin and Ireland defeat Wales.

Replacement hooker William Servat is the only change to the French squad that beat Ireland 24-16 on Saturday.

Maso said: "We are still going to Rome to win and we decided to keep faith with the players who won at Lansdowne Road - they gave us a lot of pleasure."

Toulouse hooker Servat was ruled out of the Landsdowne Road match because of a knee injury.

He was replaced by Dimitri Szarzewski who won his first cap coming on as a replacement five minutes from time.

"William has recovered from his injury and will be able to train this week," coach Bernard Laporte said.

"Hooker has become a very technical position because of the line-out throws and it's very difficult for a new player to master all the calls in a week."

Laporte will announce his starting line-up on Tuesday.

  • Wales are top of the Six Nations table and the only team capable of winning the Grand Slam (defeating all five opponents in the tournament).

    The Irish can still win the Six Nations Championship - but only if they beat Wales in Cardiff on Saturday with a points difference of more than 13 points.

    France still have a slim chance of the title. If Ireland beat Wales by one point then France would need to beat Italy by 53 points.

France squad:

Forwards: Sylvain Marconnet, Nicolas Mas, Pieter de Villiers, Sebastien Bruno, William Servat, Gregory Lamboley, Fabien Pelous, Jerome Thion, Pascal Pape, Serge Betsen, Julien Bonnaire, Yannick Nyanga.

Backs: Pierre Mignoni, Dimitri Yachvili, Yann Delaigue, Frederic Michalak, Benoit Baby, Yannick Jauzion, Christophe Dominici, Cedric Heymans, Julien Laharrague, David Marty.


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