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France name 19 uncapped players in Six Nations squad as veterans miss out

Maxime Medard, Yoann Huget, Wenceslas Lauret and Rabah Slimani have all been omitted.

Charles Ollivon has been named as captain.
Charles Ollivon has been named as captain.
Image: ABACA/PA Images

INEXPERIENCED TOULON back-rower Charles Ollivon was named as France captain Wednesday as new head coach Fabien Galthie unveiled a revamped 42-man Six Nations squad featuring a remarkable 19 uncapped players.

Ollivon, 26, who has just 11 international caps, will lead the side for the tournament as Galthie has chosen not to nominate a permanent skipper as was the case in 2016 with Guilhem Guirado, who has since retired from Test rugby.

“It’s an honour to be captain of France,” said Ollivon.

“It’s a somewhat special moment, quite moving,” he added. “I can’t wait to start the adventure.”

World U20 champions Cameron Woki, Louis Carbonel, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Killian Geraci, Arthur Vincent and Demba Bamba are among the uncapped faces in the new-look set-up.

Veterans such as Maxime Medard, Yoann Huget, Wenceslas Lauret and Rabah Slimani, who are all older than 30, miss out.

With an average age of 24, the sole player in the squad over 30 years of age is Racing’s South African-born forward Bernard Le Roux.

“It’s not a squad that has fallen from the sky, it’s a squad which has been produced because the players have proven during their recent history that they have the ability to become great France players,” Galthie insisted.

“There’s no specific age barrier. It was a collection of criteria that we followed,” the former France scrum-half added.

Galthie’s first match in charge, in a tenure which could include the 2023 World Cup on home soil, will see England travelling to Paris on February 2.

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He and manager Raphael Ibanez said Ollivon could be sure of calling on their combined experience of captaining France.

“With the Six Nations approaching, there is a double challenge,” said former hooker Ibanez, who captained France 41 times during his 98 appearances between 1996-2007.

First, to be there for him, with our own experiences from being captain, and then to be alongside him to help him in taking responsibility, in his rise to power.”

Galthie, who skippered Les Bleus 25 times in his 64 internationals between 1991-2003, added: “In this combat sport, a sport of strategy, there are several forms of captaincy.

“In any case, he is someone who brings people together. He is often the first person to put his body on the line. He often leads by example.”

France squad

Forwards: Dorian Aldegheri (Toulouse), Cyril Baille (Toulouse), Demba Bamba (Lyon), Camille Chat (Racing 92), Anthony Etrillard (Toulon), Jean-Baptiste Gros (Toulon), Mohamed Haouas (Montpellier), Julien Marchand (Toulouse), Jefferson Poirot (Bordeaux-Begles), Cyril Cazeaux (Bordeaux-Begles), Killian Geraci (Lyon), Bernard Le Roux (Racing 92), Boris Palu (Racing 92), Romain Taofifenua (Toulon), Paul Willemse (Montpellier), Gregory Alldritt (La Rochelle), Charles Ollivon (Toulon, capt), Dylan Cretin (Lyon), Francois Cros (Toulouse), Alexandre Fischer (Clermont), Sekou Macalou (Stade Francais), Selevasio Tolofua (Toulouse), Cameron Woki (Bordeaux-Begles)

Backs: Antoine Dupont (Toulouse), Baptiste Serin (Toulon), Maxime Lucu (Bordeaux-Begles), Romain Ntamack (Toulouse), Louis Carbonel (Toulouse), Mathieu Jalibert (Bordeaux-Begles), Gael Fickou (Stade Francais), Virimi Vakatawa (Racing 92), Arthur Vincent (Montpellier), Julien Heriteau (Toulon), Gervais Cordin (Toulon), Lester Etien (Stade Francais), Gabriel Ngandebe (Montpellier), Damian Penaud (Clermont), Vincent Rattez (La Rochelle), Teddy Thomas (Racing 92), Anthony Bouthier (Montpellier), Kylian Hamdaoui (Stade Francais), Thomas Ramos (Toulouse).

© – AFP 2020  

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