Jalibert over Ntamack 'logical' for France's Six Nations trip to England

·3-min read
Matthieu Jalibert has scored 20 points in two games so far this Six Nations

France head coach Fabien Galthie said naming Matthieu Jalibert at fly-half over the returning Romain Ntamack for this weekend's Six Nations visit to England was "logical".

Galthie has chosen to keep Jalibert in his starting lineup for Saturday's match at Twickenham despite Ntamack, a regular at 10 since the 2019 Six Nations, recovering from a double jaw fracture which had sidelined him since the end of December.

Ntamack returned for Toulouse in last weekend's Top 14 match against Brive, starting at 10 and playing 69 minutes in the 42-17 win.

"He (Jalibert) really responds to what we expect from a fly-half in our team. Romain comes back, he's played one game for Toulouse, it's important that he comes back with us," Galthie said.

"It's logical due to their current form and how many games they've played," he added.

Centre Virimi Vakatawa will make his first appearance of this year's tournament after missing the opening two victories against Italy and Ireland with a knee injury.

Romain Taofifenua replaces lock Bernard Le Roux after the South African-born second-row was ruled out of a week with a muscular problem, according to team manager Raphael Ibanez.

Toulon's Taofifenua has come off the bench seven times since Galthie took over after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and has been preferred to Cyril Cazeaux and Swann Rebbadj.

"Romain has been with us since the start of the adventure. He's been at pretty much all the training sessions," the 51-year-old said.

"We had to judge it on the squad experience and the profile," he added.

Le Roux picked up a muscular injury in training on Tuesday. According to team manager Rafael Ibanez, he will be out of action for a week but should be available to play against Wales in Paris on March 20.

- Covid-free France -

Les Bleus' match against Scotland, originally scheduled for February 28, was postponed after 12 squad members and four others around the team, including Galthie, tested positive for coronavirus.

The France squad is now deemed to be Covid-free.

Last week, an internal investigation by the French Rugby Federation cleared any individual of responsibility after the outbreak, saying the health protocol had been respected.

Former scrum-half Galthie has been criticised since the outbreak for leaving the team hotel to watch his son play a game.

"We respect the Covid-19 protocol as best as possible. France is very exposed, zero risk does not exist," said Galthie who took over as coach after the 2019 World Cup.

"You accept and listen to criticism which has been positive for almost two years now but also the other criticism. It's part of our mission, situation and our role."

Eight players who tested positive for the virus including scrum-half Antoine Dupont are named in the side as les Bleus eye a first Six Nations victory at Twickenham since 2005.

France (15-1)

Brice Dulin; Damian Penaud, Virimi Vakatawa, Gael Fickou, Teddy Thomas: Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Dupont; Gregory Alldritt; Charles Ollivon (capt), Dylan Cretin; Paul Willemse, Romain Taofifenua: Mohamed Haouas, Julian Marchand, Cyril Baille

Replacements: Camille Chat, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Dorian Aldegheri, Cyril Cazeau, Cameron Woki, Anthony Jelonch, Baptiste Serin, Romain Ntamack

Coach: Fabien Galthie (FRA)