Mathieu Bastareaud has returned to France’s starting XV in one of five changes for Friday’s Six Nations contest against Italy.


The Toulon centre was suspended for the opening two rounds, which resulted in defeats to Ireland and Scotland, after receiving a three-week ban for making an alleged homophobic slur in a Champions Cup match against Benetton Treviso last month.

Head coach Jacques Brunel made several changes to his squad after several players – including Teddy Thomas, who scored twice at Murrayfield – were dropped due to their behaviour during a night out in Edinburgh following the Scotland defeat.

There is a new-look back three, with Hugo Bonneval starting at full-back, while Benjamin Fall and Remy Grosso make their first starts of this season’s tournament on the wings.


Brunel, a former Italy coach, makes his last alteration in the pack with Paul Gabrillagues chosen ahead of Arthur Iturria.


France, who are playing a Six Nations match outside of Paris for the first time at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome, also make changes to the bench.

Scrum-half Baptiste Couilloud could make his debut off the bench, while Romain Taofifenua, Kelian Galletier, Francois Trinh-Duc and Gael Fickou make their first matchday squads of this year’s championship.




France XV: Hugo Bonneval, Benjamin Fall, Mathieu Bastareaud, Geoffrey Doumayrou, Remy Grosso, Lionel Beauxis, Maxime Machenaud; Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado, Rabah Slimani, Paul Gabrillagues, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Wenceslas Lauret, Yacouba Camara, Marco Tauleigne 

Replacements: Adrien Pelissie, Dany Priso, Cedate Gomes Sa, Romain Taofifenua, Kelian Galletier, Baptiste Couilloud, Francois Trinh-Duc, Gael Fickou 

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