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French campaign takes another twist


France's bizarre campaign takes another twist as call-up is away on holiday

France’s bizarre 2019 Six Nations campaign took another strange twist on Tuesday when they called a player into the squad to face England who is away on holiday and unavailable for training until Thursday.

Jacques Brunel would have learned on Sunday that the cruciate ligament rupture suffered by Julien Marchand in the opening round loss to Wales required an operation, ruling him out of the remainder of the tournament and the rest of his club season with Toulouse.

Marchand came on in the 58th minute to replace skipper Guilhem Guirado at hooker in the Six Nations opener they went on to lose 24-19 after squandering a 0-16 half-time lead. However, Marchand’s replacement Camille Chat, the Racing 92 No2, won’t be able to link up with the French squad at Marcoussis until Thursday as he is away on holiday.

Chat’s unavailability until three days before the round two game at Twickenham is the latest weird situation to emerge from a French camp suffering a crisis of confidence after losing nine of their outings since Brunel took charge following the December 2017 sacking of Guy Noves.

In the aftermath of their opening night defeat to Wales, second row Sebastien Vahaamahina revealed that it wasn’t until he was told by referee Waynes Barnes that he learned he had become his team’s on-pitch captain following Guirado’s substitution.

“I did not even know I was a captain,” Vahaamahina told Midi Olympique in the aftermath of a defeat that he contributed massively to as it was his ill-advised pass that gifted George North the interception for the winning try.

“It was the referee who came to see me on a penalty to ask me my choice. I told him to address the captain. He said it was me. The staff did not warn me.”

France’s inability to immediately summon a replacement for Marchand to training contrasts with the situation this week in some rival countries.

Ireland called in Billy Holland for training on Monday after Devin Toner picked up an ankle problem in their Saturday loss to England that has ruled him out of their round two game at Scotland.

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France's bizarre campaign takes another twist as call-up is away on holiday
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