start of a new era … bye bye ibanez
New France coach Marc Lievremont picked six new faces and left out Sebastien Chabal when he named his 22-man squad for the Six Nations opener against Scotland on Feb. 3 at Murrayfield.
Lievremont, who took over from Bernard Laporte following France’s semi-final exit at last year’s World Cup, included backs Morgan Parra, Francois Trin-Dhuc and Julien Malzieu plus forwards Julien Brugnault, Lionel Faure and Arnaud Mela.
“We wanted coherence with (the next World Cup in) 2011 in mind and we also wanted a team that could be competitive at this year’s Six Nations,” Lievremont said.
The powerful Chabal, a flanker who was controversially used at lock by Laporte, rose to fame during the World Cup on home soil but the burly Sale player failed to convince Lievremont.
Instead of picking Chabal, the new coaching staff decided to recall number eight Elvis Vermeulen, who missed the World Cup through injury.
“Elvis Vermeulen is actually the best in that position,” said assistant coach Emile Ntamack. “We could have chosen Chabal because of his versatility but we went for Elvis because we believe he’s better. There’s no plot against Chabal.”
The Six Nations tournament will mark a new era for France after stalwarts such as Raphael Ibanez, Fabien Pelous and Serge Betsen quit in the wake of the World Cup.
Backs: Jean-Baptiste Elissalde, Morgan Parra, Francois Trin-Dhuc, David Skrela, Florian Fritz, Damien Traille, Vincent Clerc, Julien Malzieu, Cedric Heymans, Aurelien Rougerie
Forwards: Julien Brugnaut, Lionel Faure, Jean-Baptiste Poux, William Servat, Dimitri Szarzewski, Loic Jacquet, Lionel Nallet, Arnaud Mela, Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Elvis Vermeulen.