What we learned from the France team to face England

After a first Championship win against Italy in Round Three, Jacques Brunel has kept faith with the majority of his squad for the England test.

After a first Championship win against Italy in Round Three, Jacques Brunel has kept faith with the majority of his squad for the England test.

He’s made just a single change as the two-time NatWest 6 Nations champions arrive in Paris off the back of just their second defeat under Eddie Jones.

And while Jones has chosen to switch things around with three new faces in the England squad, France have kept things simple with Francois Trinh-Duc the only inclusion.

Click here for the complete 2018 NatWest 6 Nations fixture list

Here’s everything we learned from Brunel’s selection for the NatWest 6 Nations clash with England at Stade de France:

Trinh-Duc starts

Trinh-Duc makes his first start of the 2018 Natwest 6 Nations against England having come off the bench to play just nine minutes against the Italians.

The 31-year-old fly-half converted Mathieu Bastareaud’s try three minutes later and will make his 40th start in a France shirt on Saturday.

He made his international debut in the Championship back in 2008 against Scotland so has plenty of experience at this level and has faced England nine times.

Lionel Beauxis drops to the bench after starting in the ten jersey against Scotland and Italy – his first international appearances since 2012.

Trinh-Duc and Maxime Machenaud were the half-back pairing two years ago in Paris when France made England scrap hard in their Grand Slam decider.

Bonneval retained

Full-back Hugo Bonneval took his chance against Italy, scoring a try late in the day, and he remains at 15 for the visit of England this weekend.

Backs coach Jean-Baptiste Elissalde wanted an improvement in territorial kicking from the Italy win with Geoffrey Palis thought to offer an option here.

Pallis is not included though meaning Bonneval will be up against Anthony Watson in Paris with the Bath full-back named ahead of Harlequins’ Mike Brown by Eddie Jones.

The Bastareaud effect

After a match-winning performance against Italy last time out, Mathieu Bastareaud will once again be looking to dominate the midfield for France.

The 29-year-old was in the centres when the Les Bleus tasted victory over England in 2010 on their way to a famous Grand Slam.

Gaël Fickou remains on the bench but will also bring memories of success over the English, coming off the bench to score the winning try in 2014.

Pack as you were

Brunel has gone for consistency in the pack with Guilhem Guirado once again set to lead from the front as captain and hooker for Les Bleus.

Jefferson Poirot and Rabah Slimani are retained as the props – the same front row that faced off with England in Paris in 2016 – with Paul Gabrillagues and Sébastien Vahaamahina in the engine room once more.

Wenceslas Lauret, Yacouba Camara and Marco Tauleigne are in the back row looking to close down England’s Nathan Hughes, Courtney Lawes and Chris Robshaw.