French leave out Francois Trinh-Duc for Rugby World Cup squad

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has left out fly-half Francois Trinh-Ducfrom his 31-man World Cup squad, in favour of Frederic Michalak.

Saint-Andre has dropped four others from his preliminary squad, axing Sébastien Vahaamahina, Xavier Chiocci, Loann Goujon, and Remi Lamerat.

Lamerat of Castres was dropped in favour of Toulouse centre Gaël Fickou and, while the front trio of Vahaamahina, Chiocci, and Goujon were not expected to make the cut, Trinh-Duc’s absence comes as a major surprise.

“[It was a] difficult moment to see the five players leave the group,” Saint-Andre said.

“It is a choice which has been made — not only after seven weeks, but also after three years of life with the squad,” said Saint-Andre, who also citedTrinh-Duc’s lack of accuracy at place-kicking.

For Michalak, who will celebrate his 33rd birthday during the tournament, it will be his third World Cup, having first made an impression at international level during the 2003 edition in Australia.

Michalak, became France’s all-time record points scorer during the 25-20 victory over England in Paris on Saturday.

Saint-Andre has selected three scrumhalves, in Morgan Parra — Lievremont’s favoured No.9 alongside Trinh-Duc for much of his reign — South Africa-born Rory Kockott, and Michalak’s clubmate Sebastien Tillous-Borde. Both Parra and Kockott are adept place-kickers.

The side will be captained, as it was in 2011, by 33-year-old flank Thierry Dusautoir, whose outstanding performances at the last tournament earned him the world player of the year accolade.

France, who have one more warm-up match against Scotland on September 5 at the Stade de France, open their campaign to try and secure the trophy for the first time — they have lost three times in the final — against Italy on September 19 at Twickenham. France will also play Six Nations champions Ireland, Romania, and Canada in the pool stage.

On Saturday night the French pack overpowered their opponents, who beat them 19-14 at Twickenham last week, in the first half and the hosts led 15-6 at half-time. Winger Yoann Huget scored a brilliant individual try early in the second half to give France breathing space but England regrouped to score late tries through Danny Cipriani and Jonathan Joseph.

France struck after three minutes when fullback Scott Spedding converted a penalty given away carelessly by England centre Luther Burrell. They extended their lead with four penalties from Michalak.

The England pack could not get a foothold in the game, a succession of errors ensuring their team did not enjoy any possession in the France half.

England flyhalf George Ford kicked two penalties to keep his team in touch and captain Chris Robshaw admitted his side had made too many errors to compete.

“In the first half we were shocking with our discipline,” Robshaw said. “We gave too many penalties away, but give us credit in the second half we came out and played well but couldn’t quite get over the line in the end,” the flanker added. “We can’t give teams like France and other quality sides head starts like we did. We’ll look long and hard at ourselves. We let ourselves down in the first half. We played well in phases but you can’t wait for 40 minutes to do that.”

FRANCE WORLD CUP SQUAD: Forwards: U Atonio, E Ben Arous, V Debaty, N Mas, R Slimani, G Guirado, B Kayser, D Szarzewski, A Flanquart, Y Maestri, P Papé, T Dusautoir, B Le Roux, Y Nyanga, F Ouedraogo, D Chouly, L Picamoles. Backs: R Kockott, M Parra, S Tillous-Borde, F Michalak, R Talès, M Bastareaud, A Dumoulin, G Fickou, W Fofana, S Guitoune, Y Huget, N Nakaitaci, B Dulin, S Spedding.


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