France’s monster pack that will face Wales at the Stade de France on Friday night could well be the heaviest international pack ever to take to the field in the game’s history.
Brunel is clearly looking to take the battle to Wales upfront, naming a gargantuan pack that tips the scales at over 950kg.
The total weight of the pack is a staggering 962kg, a full 60kg heavier than most international sides. While it’s significantly less than a one tonne pack fielded by Toulouse in 2017, it’s almost certainly the heaviest pack fielded in international rugby history.
That puts the average weight of a player at slightly over 120kg, or a shade under 19 stone a man in old money (or 265 pounds in American). The average height of the pack is 6 foot 4 inches.
1 Jefferson Poirot
2 Guilhem Guirado (captain)
3 Uini Atonio
4 Sebastien Vahaamahina
The size of the pack isn’t the only shock.
Centre Mathieu Bastareaud (126kg) – who captained France last year – not only misses out on a place in the starting line-up, but he will not be on the bench at Stade de France either.
Coach Jacques Brunel has put his faith in the 19-year-old Ntamack, whose father, Emile, won 46 caps for Les Bleus, to take on Warren Gatland’s side after some eye-catching displays for Toulouse and France Under-20s.
Ntamack – the youngest player in any of this year’s Six Nations squads – will be paired with Wesley Fofana, while South African-born lock Paul Willemse will also make his debut in Paris.
Brunel has reunited experienced scrum-half Morgan Parra and fly-half Camille Lopez for the start of the tournament.
Promising pop Demba Bamba, who made his international bow against Fiji last November, has only been named among the replacements.
France: Maxime Medard, Damian Penaud, Wesley Fofana, Romain Ntamack, Yoann Huget, Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra; Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado (captain), Uini Atonio, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Paul Willemse, Wenceslas Lauret, Arthur Iturria, Louis Picamoles.
Replacements: Julien Marchand, Dany Priso, Demba Bamba, Felix Lambey, Gregory Alldritt, Baptiste Serin, Gaël Fickou, Geoffrey Doumayrou.
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