6N: France recall Penaud and Poirot, Scotland bolster pack
Winger Damian Penaud and prop Jefferson Poirot return for unbeaten France in two changes for the match against Scotland in Six Nations rugby on Sunday at Murrayfield.
Penaud was a first-choice pick on the right wing during last year's Rugby World Cup in Japan, but missed the first three games of the Six Nations after tearing a calf muscle before the opening game against England.
He takes the place of Teddy Thomas, who was dropped from the squad by coach Fabien Galthié on Thursday after a poor defensive performance in the narrow win against Wales two weeks ago.
Galthié dismissed any notion that Thomas — who has 11 tries in 19 test appearances — is being punished.
“Damian was selected to play on the eve of the England game (before getting injured). It’s not a punishment or a reproach for Teddy," Galthié said. "Players do what they can. At this level, sometimes you do well, sometimes you’re confronted by your own weaknesses.”
Poirot, who was not even in the squad against Wales, steps in for the injured Cyril Baille, who dislocated his shoulder in Cardiff and is out for the rest of the tournament.
“(Poirot) has experience, unquestionable abilities," Galthié said. “We have total faith in Jefferson to wear the No. 1 shirt in Edinburgh.”
Center Gaël Fickou stays on the left wing so Arthur Vincent keeps his place in midfield alongside Virimi Vakatawa. Vincent captained France to victory at the under-20 worlds last year.
France, which has not won the tournament since 2010, is seeking a fourth win in as many matches.
The bench is unchanged from the Wales game, with Camille Chat as backup hooker and fullback Thomas Ramos offering support as penalty kicker.
Scotland made three changes — all in the pack — after beating Italy in Rome two weeks ago.
Hooker Fraser Brown will earn his 50th cap, and lock Grant Gilchrist and No. 8 Nick Haining were also recalled, while Stuart McInally, Ben Toolis and Magnus Bradbury made way.
Exeter lock Sam Skinner was in the reserves as he eyes his first appearance since last year after returning from the hamstring injury that cost him a place at the Rugby World Cup.
The reserves also feature the return of 27-cap flyhalf Duncan Weir, who could make his first appearance since the 2017 championship, while Glasgow center-wing Kyle Steyn, a former Scotland Sevens player, could receive his first cap.
"We're going to have to deliver our best rugby of the championship in order to beat a team in such good form,” Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said.
“France's victories have been built on an aggressive and well-organized defense so the precision, decision-making and effort in our attacking game will have to be very good in order to get in behind them this weekend.”
Scotland: Stuart Hogg (captain), Sean Maitland, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Nick Haining, Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie, Grant Gilchrist, Scott Cummings, Zander Fagerson, Fraser Brown, Rory Sutherland. Reserves: Stuart McInally, Allan Dell, Willem Nel, Sam Skinner, Magnus Bradbury, George Horne, Duncan Weir, Kyle Steyn,
France: Anthony Bouthier, Damian Penaud, Virimi Vakatawa, Arthur Vincent, Gaël Fickou, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Grégory Alldritt, Charles Ollivon (captain), François Cros, Paul Willemse, Bernard Le Roux, Mohamed Haouas, Julien Marchand, Jefferson Poirot. Reserves: Camille Chat, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Demba Bemba, Romain Taofifenua, Dylan Cretin, Baptiste Serin, Matthieu Jalibert, Thomas Ramos.
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