France call up Vincent for Ireland Six Nations decider

·2-min read
Arthur Vincent started three games earlier this year during the Six Nations

Centre Arthur Vincent replaces injured winger Teddy Thomas in France's side to host Ireland in this weekend's potential Six Nations decider, coach Fabien Galthie announced on Thursday.

Midfielder Gael Fickou moves to the wing as Vincent comes into the centres alongside Virimi Vakatawa for the nail-biting finish to a coronavirus-delayed tournament that sees les Bleus, this Saturday's Irish visitors and England -- who play Italy -- all in a position to win the Six Nations title.

Galthie's side must better Eddie Jones' men's result in Rome earlier in the day and have a better points difference to claim the competition for the first time since 2010.

France team manager Raphael Ibanez, however, refused to be dragged into the details of clinching the trophy.

"The message to the players is simple. We have as much chance of winning the Six Nations as Ireland and England in this final round," the ex-France hooker and skipper said.

Vincent, 21, who captained his country to the World Under-20 Championship title in 2019, started three Test matches earlier this year before the competition was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Former international scrum-half Galthie, who has lost just once in five matches since taking over as France head coach after last year's Rugby World Cup, said his selection was made up of three parts.

"The collective experience is essential at international level," Galthie said in reference to Vincent having already played alongside Fiji-born powerhouse Vakatawa.

"The second element is yesterday's training. Vincent won his place at training. 

"Another element of selection is Ireland's territorial strategy by attacking left and right and notably the right foot of Johnny Sexton. He kicks often left and right to put pressure on the wingers," he added.

Uncapped La Rochelle winger Arthur Retiere is named on the bench in the only other change in the matchday 23.

"Retiere gets his first experience after his continued performances at training and with his club. He's ready," Galthie said.

France side (15-1) to face Ireland on Saturday (kick-off 2005 GMT)

Anthony Bouthier; Vincent Rattez, Virimi Vakatawa, Arthur Vincent, Gael Fickou; Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Gregory Alldritt, Charles Ollivon (capt), Francois Cros; Paul Willemse, Bernard Le Roux; Mohamed Haouas, Julien Marchand, Cyril Baille

Replacements: Camille Chat, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Demba Bamba, Romain Taofifenua, Dylan Cretin, Baptiste Serin, Arthur Retiere, Thomas Ramos