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France make one change for their Grand Slam decider versus England

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

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Fabien Galthie has named a France side to play England in this Saturday’s title-deciding Six Nations game that shows one change to their starting XV from the 13-9 round four victory over Wales in Cardiff. The French are chasing a first Grand Slam since 2010 and they have opted to mostly stick with the team that delivered their fourth win of 2022.

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For the Wales match, France had made just a single change to their Six Nations starting XV from the side that defeated Scotland in round three, the fit-again Gabin Villiere recalled to the wing with the virus-hit Damian Penaud missing out. 

With Penaud now recovered, he has taken the No14 jersey off Yoram Moefana while there is also a single change on the bench where Romain Taofifenua, who missed out against the Welsh due to a virus, is taking over from Matthis Lebel.   

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Jamie Noon guests on the latest RugbyPass Offload
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Jamie Noon guests on the latest RugbyPass Offload

Taofifenua and starting second row Paul Willemse were named by assistant coach Shaun Edwards on this week’s RugbyPass Offload as the pair of forwards responsible for laying down the law to their teammates when it came to gain line physicality.

Willemse, the 29-year-old lock from South Africa, has started all four matches so far this year for the title-chasing French, scoring a try in their win over Scotland. Meanwhile, the 31-year-old Taofifenua appeared on three occasions off the 2022 bench to help bring the French victories home, only missing out on the win last time out in Cardiff through illness.

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We are a better defensive team when Paul is on the pitch. He is a very, very dominant character on the pitch. I gave him the job,” explained Edwards, the ex-Wales assistant who switched to France for the 2020 Six Nations. “I asked him did he want the job to be in charge of the physicality at the advantage line.

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“Him and Romain Taofifenua, they both accepted the job and have done a pretty good job so far in this competition. I thought to myself, who is going to argue with them two, so I picked them. Up there for thinking.”

FRANCE (vs England, Saturday):
15. Melvyn Jaminet; 14. Damian Penaud, 13. Gael Fickou, 12. Jonathan Danty, 11. Gabin Villiere; 10. Romain Ntamack. 9. Antoine Dupont (capt); 1. Cyril Baille, 2. Julien Marchand, 3. Uini Atonio, 4. Cameron Woki, 5. Paul Willemse, 6. Francois Cros, 7. Anthony Jelonch, 8. Gregory Alldritt. Reps: 16. Peato Mauvaka, 17. Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18. Mohamed Haouas, 19. Romain Taofifenua, 20. Thibaud Flament, 21. Dylan Cretin, 22. Maxime Lucu, 23. Thomas Ramos.

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