Head coach Jacques Brunel insists his decision to drop Morgan Parra and Camille Lopez from France’s squad to face Scotland had nothing to do with their criticism of the management in the wake of the loss to England.
The Clermont Auvergne pair started each of Les Bleus’ opening two Six Nations matches – a 24-19 defeat at home to Wales before the 44-8 hammering at Twickenham last time out.
In the aftermath of the England defeat Parra hinted at discord in the camp.
“I think that we are capable of doing what the English do, but are we working on this during training? I think we don’t work on it enough, even not at all,” Parra said.
“Yet these are very simple things that are today part of high-level rugby. We can do this. But do we work on it? No.”
On Tuesday, Brunel announced his side to take on Scotland in Paris on Saturday, with no place among the 23 for scrum-half Parra or number 10 Lopez, who have 92 international caps between them.
Instead, Antoine Dupont will start in Parra’s stead while 19-year-old Romain Ntamack gets the nod alongside him in what will be only the teenager’s third appearance.
“It’s a sporting choice,” Brunel said in a media conference. “The hinge against England did not have the expected results, and the entry of Antoine and the performances of Romain showed quality.
“So that’s why we have to trust them. A defeat like the one suffered against England deserved to change things.”
— FF Rugby (@FFRugby) February 19, 2019
Asked if he still included Parra as part of his plans for the World Cup later this year, Brunel replied: “Of course,” before it was put to him that the decision to drop he and Lopez would be seen as punishment for their remarks after the Twickenham thrashing.
“What can I say to that? I’m telling you, no, and you’re saying otherwise,” Brunel replied.
“I can’t tell you anything more. Ask them, you’ll see what they tell you.
“I know too much about…how things are wrapped up, turned around and altered to let me be disturbed by this kind of thing.”
And Brunel is not concerned at selecting Ntamack at number 10, even though he regularly operates at centre for Toulouse and started in that position against Wales.
“That is not a problem. To have spoken with him, I know that he has no particular preference, he evolves in a position of centre with Toulouse, but at the same time he is an organiser of the game,” the coach added.
“If we ever had any doubt, we wouldn’t have done it.”
Watch: Philippe Saint-André speaks to The Rugby Pod on France’s woes
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