Six Nations 2020: Fickou shifts to France wing in place of injured Thomas for crucial Ireland clash

By Sports Desk October 29, 2020

Gael Fickou will move from centre to the wing in place of the injured Teddy Thomas for France's decisive Six Nations clash with Ireland in Paris on Saturday.

Racing 92 winger Thomas scored the last of France's five tries in last weekend's 38-21 victory over Wales but has been ruled out of the Ireland game at Stade de France with a hamstring injury.

Fickou shifts out wide in the absence of the clinical Thomas, with Arthur Vincent coming in at centre in the only change from the win over Wales.

Explaining his decision, France head coach Fabien Galthie said: "We know that Jonny Sexton uses his foot to put pressure on our wing. Fickou has this experience to deal with it.

"We had to manage the same thing against Wales. Arthur Retiere is also ready and is on the bench."

France are seeking their first tournament triumph in a decade as they gear up to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Les Bleus start their final game in Paris a point behind leaders Ireland and level with England, who face Italy in Rome.

"It's quite simple - we have as much chance of winning as England and Ireland," Galthie said. "But above all we try to be consistent. 

"We want consistency. We should not be weighed down with assumptions of what could happen."

Bernard le Roux again partners Paul Willemse at lock after his citing for an allegedly striking Alun Wyn Jones was dismissed by an independent panel.

The game has been given the all clear to go ahead despite French president Emmanuel Macron tightening the country's coronavirus restrictions this week.

Ireland announced their squad on Wednesday, with Robbie Henshaw replacing injured Leinster team-mate Garry Ringrose in their only change.

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

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

Related items

  • Benzema updates Twitter bio as France rumours mount Benzema updates Twitter bio as France rumours mount

    Karim Benzema has added the France national team's handle to his Twitter bio amid mounting speculation his international exile is about to end.

    France boss Didier Deschamps is expected to include the Real Madrid striker when he names his Euro 2020 squad on Tuesday.

    It will be the first time since October 2015, when he scored a brace in a friendly against Armenia, that Benzema has featured for Les Bleus.

    His new Twitter bio simply reads: "Football player - @equipedefrance @realmadrid"

    In the weeks following the Armenia match, Benzema became embroiled in blackmail scandal involving international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

    Benzema will stand trial on the charge of complicity in attempted blackmail in October and denies any wrongdoing.

    Even though his form for Real Madrid has often been exceptional, landing him three Champions Leagues and two LaLiga titles in the interim period, the apparent reconciliation with Deschamps still comes as a huge surprise.

    At the height of publicity surrounding the alleged sex tape extortion attempt on Valbuena, when France's then Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Benzema had "no place" in the national team, the forward hit out at Deschamps and claimed he had "bowed to the pressure of a racist part of France".

     

    Dream team? Benzema set to join Mbappe and Griezmann in formidable frontline

    Deschamps said he would "never forget" those words, but now the world champions look set to line up with a fearsome forward line combining Benzema, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.

    In the time since Benzema's 81st cap – he has 27 goals at international level – all three have established themselves among the leading attacking talents in Europe.

    Benzema has 138 goals in 269 Real Madrid outings, placing him 13th among players from across Europe's top five leagues in all competitions. Over the same period, Griezmann has 137 (293 matches) and Mbappe 157 (229 matches) – hauls split across respective stints with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, and Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain.

    Mbappe (€180million) and Griezmann (€120m) are the second and fifth most expensive players of all time, with compatriots Paul Pogba and Ousmane Dembele also moving in €100m deals since Benzema last played internationally – further underlining the enviable level of talent Deschamps has at his disposal.

    Benzema is often noted for his selflessness and ability to combine well with team-mates. Since October 8, 2015, he has 54 assists from 375 chances created at Madrid. Mbappe has 68 assists – placing him fourth among players to have scored 100 or more goals in this time, behind Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez – from 326 chances created, while Griezmann has laid on 397 opportunities for 55 assists.

    This is firepower Deschamps will be glad to call upon in a tough Euro 2020 group alongside Germany, Hungary and Portugal – the reigning champions and their conquerors in the 2016 final.

  • All Blacks great Read retires from rugby All Blacks great Read retires from rugby

    All Blacks great Kieran Read has retired from rugby.

    Read had said he would end his career at the end of the Japan Top League season, and his Toyota Verblitz side suffered a 48-21 semi-final defeat against the Panasonic Wild Knights on Sunday.

    In a post on social media, Read said: "I'm looking forward to returning to New Zealand and spending time with my family."

    "Thank you to the @toyotaverblitz team for the friendships I will hold onto for my lifetime, it's been a challenging time for everyone involved but proud of the direction we are heading," Read wrote on Instagram. 

    "Also, a massive thanks to all the fans of rugby in Japan for your support."

    Read was part of two New Zealand World Cup-winning sides, earning 127 caps for the All Blacks to put him third all-time in that regard. Richie McCaw tops the list with 148 Test caps.

    He played 52 of his Tests as skipper and was the 66th captain of New Zealand. Only McCaw (110) made more appearances as captain of the All Blacks.

    With 107 victories, Read is one of only five players to win 100 Test matches, along with fellow All Blacks McCaw, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock and Sam Whitelock.

    His run of 19 consecutive victories as All Blacks captain from 2012 to 2016 is a record.

  • Super Rugby: Crusaders & Chiefs cling on as Blues thrash Rebels Super Rugby: Crusaders & Chiefs cling on as Blues thrash Rebels

    Super Rugby Aotearoa champions the Crusaders survived a second-half fightback from the Brumbies to start their Trans-Tasman campaign with a dramatic 31-29 win.

    The Crusaders appeared to be on course for a comfortable victory when they led 19-7 at the interval thanks to tries from Ethan Blackadder, Richie Mo'unga and David Havili.

    Irae Simone's try and five points from the boot of Noah Lolesio trimmed the gap to two points after the break, only for Brendon O'Connor and Cullen Grace to cross to restore the Crusaders' measure of command.

    But Tom Banks' try and Lolesio's conversion restored hope for Super Rugby AU runners-up the Brumbies, who then moved within two points of sending the game to extra time when Tom Wright's inside pass sent Rob Valetini over in the last minute.

    However, this time Lolesio could not find the desired accuracy from the tee, his kick from the sideline sailing just wide of the left-hand post as the Crusaders clung on.

    There was a markedly similar end to the Chiefs' 20-19 victory over the Western Force.

    The Chiefs led 10-7 at half-time and tries from Nathan Harris and Jonah Lowe appeared to put them in control.

    But Luke Jacobson's 66th red card, which came after he received a second yellow for slowing the ball down at the ruck, gave the Force new life.

    They made their one-man advantage count three minutes later as Richard Kahui went over and had a chance to snatch victory at the last after Domingo Miotti crossed.

    Miotti, though, could not convert his own try, sending the attempt agonisingly wide of the uprights.

    That kick ensured it was a clean sweep for New Zealand sides over their Australian opponents, the Blues having run in eight tries in trouncing the Rebels 50-3 earlier in the day.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.