French put faith in Baby

France head coach Marc Lievremont has taken a major gamble by selecting Benoit Baby at fly-half for Friday’s RBS 6 Nations match against Wales in Paris.

France head coach Marc Lievremont has taken a major gamble by selecting Benoit Baby at fly-half for Friday’s RBS 6 Nations match against Wales in Paris.

Baby, a centre by trade, gets the nod over Francois Trinh-Duc, who was only called up on Monday as a replacement for the injured Lionel Beauxis and will start on the bench against the Welsh.

With Baby moved to number 10, in-form Stade Francais powerhouse Mathieu Bastareaud – another late call-up – is handed a debut at centre alongside Yannick Jauzion.

With Morgan Parra coming in for Sebastien Tillous-Borde at scrum-half, France are going with an untried and inexperienced half-back partnership for arguably their toughest match of the championship.

Elsewhere behind the scrum, Maxime Medard reverts to full-back in place of Toulouse team-mate Clement Poitrenaud, with Julien Malzieu coming in on the wing.

In the forwards, Sylvain Marconnet is drafted into the front row and will make his 72nd appearance for France, equalling the prop record held by Christian Califano.

The Stade Francais veteran was called into the squad last week as a result of injuries suffered by Nicolas Mas and Benoit Lecouls.

In the second row, Sebastien Chabal returns in place of Romain Millo-Chluski and in all there are five personnel changes to the team which started the 22-13 win over Scotland a week and a half ago.

Les Bleus lost their first match of the tournament 30-21 to Ireland in Dublin.

France team for Friday's RBS 6 Nations match against Wales in Paris:

Maxime Medard (Toulouse); Julien Malzieu (Clermont-Auvergne), Mathieu Bastareaud (Stade Francais), Yannick Jauzion, Cedric Heymans (both Toulouse); Benoit Baby (Clermont-Auvergne), Morgan Parra (Bourgoin); Fabien Barcella (Biarritz), Dimitri Szarzewski, Sylvain Marconnet (both Stade Francais), Lionel Nallet (Castres, capt), Sebastien Chabal (Sale), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz).

Replacements: Benjamin Kayser (Leicester), Thomas Domingo (Clermont-Auvergne), Romain Millo-Chluski (Toulouse), Louis Picamoles (Montpellier), Sebastien Tillous-Borde (Castres), Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Clement Poitrenaud (Toulouse).

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