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Racing wing Taofifenua among three uncapped players in French Six Nations squad

Though uncertainty swirls around French participation, the tournament remains scheduled for next month.

Image: Poupart Julien/ABACA

EXCITING RACING 92 wing Donovan Taofifenua was one of three uncapped players named by France coach Fabien Galthie on Monday in his squad of 37 to prepare for this year’s Six Nations which remains scheduled to kick off next month.

His Racing teammate, prop George-Henri Colombe and Stade Francais centre Julien Delbouis also join the group as France look to go one better than in 2020 when they missed out on the title on points difference to England.

France are due to play their opening game against Italy in Rome on 6 February although a meeting is set to be held today to discuss the plans for the tournament within the current Covid-19 protocols.

Yesterday, the French government directed Top 14 clubs not to play in any European Cup matches until the end of January, a decree which prompted the organisers to suspend the next two rounds.

Alongside regulars such as captain Charles Ollivon, influential scrum-half Antoine Dupont and centres Gael Fickou and Virimi Vakatawa, Galthie also named some of the second-string players who made the most of their opportunities during the Autumn Nations Cup.

La Rochelle full-back Brice Dulin, Toulon wing Gabin Villiere, Castres flanker Anthony Jelonch and Pau lock Baptiste Pesenti are all included in the squad which will gather to start the relevant protocols from January 24.

Toulouse fly-half Romain Ntamack and Lyon prop Demba Ba both miss out because of injury but Clermont winger Damian Penaud, who missed much of last season injured, returns.

Taofifenua, who replaces Montpellier’s Vincent Rattez, has been on fire for Racing this season with six tries in nine Top 14 matches and two more in the European Champions Cup.

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The 21 year-old, whose cousin Romain is also in the squad, was included in the Autumn Nations Cup campaign without playing a game.

The 37 will be supplemented by five training partners under the agreement signed between the LNR, which runs the Top 14, and the French Rugby Federation (FFR).

France squad for 2021 Six Nations:

Forwards: Uini Atonio, Cyril Baille, Pierre Bourgarit, Camille Chat, Georges-Henri Colombe, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Mohamed Haouas, Hassane Kolingar, Julien Marchand, Bernard Le Roux, Killian Geraci, Paul Willemse, Romain Taofifenua, Baptiste Pesenti, Swan Rebbadj, Gregory Alldritt, Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon, Dylan Cretin, Selevasio Tolofua, Anthony Jelonch

Backs: Antoine Dupont, Baptiste Serin, Baptiste Couilloud, Matthieu Jalibert, Louis Carbonel, Virimi Vakatawa, Gael Fickou, Arthur Vincent, Julien Delbouis, Damian Penaud, Teddy Thomas, Gabin Villiere, Donovan Taofifenua, Anthony Bouthier, Brice Dulin, Thomas Ramos

© – AFP, 2021

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