Ibanez Back In The Hot Seat For French Trip To Wales
12 February 2002 16:45pm
Raphael Ibanez will lead a French team showing six changes from their opening day win over Italy when they travel to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff to meet Wales in round two of the Lloyds TSB Six Nations Championship on Saturday.
Ibanez returns to the hooking duties in place of the injured Yannick Bru and regains the captaincy because of the suspension of Olivier Magne.
The Castres hooker led France to the 1998 Grand Slam and into the 1999 Rugby World Cup final in Cardiff.
Magne's place in the back row goes to the young Pau forward Imanol Harinoroquy, who wins his first cap.
The other change in the pack sees Olivier Brouzet take over from David Auradou, who is dropped after picking up a yellow card in the 33-12 win over A spate of injuries forced French coach Bernard Laporte into changes at scrum half, wing and full back.
With Frederic Michalak joining Fabien Galthie on the sick list, Pierre Mignoni gets a recall at scrum half to make his first international appearance since facing Namibia in the 1999 Rugby World Cup.
Nicolas Brusque takes over from the injured Nicolas Jeanjean at full back, while utility back Xavier Garbajosa moves onto the wing in place of David Bory.
"We want to make our scrum a much more powerful weapon as we are fully aware the Welsh scrum will be much more difficult to cope with than the Italian one," said Laporte.
"The scrum must be our launching pad for attacking moves. I hope Imanol will help us to be more efficient in the line-out too.
"We can expect a tough challenge in Cardiff. Not because the Welsh scare us but because our squad has not settled down yet."
French manager Jo Maso said the whole of France will be looking for an improved performance after an unconvincing show against Italy at Stade de France.
"We need to regain some pace and we are going to Cardiff with the aim of winning and nothing else," said Maso.
"We must find some ambition and we must be more dominant than we were two weeks ago."
FRANCE (v Wales)
Nicolas Brusque (Biarritz); Aurelien Rougerie (Montferrand), Tony Marsh Montferrand), Damien Traille (Pau), Xavier Garbajosa (Toulouse); Gerald Merceron (Montferrand); Pierre Mignoni (Beziers); Jean-Jacques Crenca (Agen), Raphael Ibanez (Castres Olympique, CAPTAIN), Pieter De Villiers (Stade Francais), Thibault Privat (Beziers), Olivier Brouzet (Northampton Saints, Serge Betsen (Biarritz), Imanol Harinordoquy (Pau), Steve Hall (Beziers).
Replacements: Sebastien Bruno (Beziers), Olivier Milloud (Bourgoin), Fabien Pelous (Toulouse), Alexandre Audebert (Montferrand), Alexandre Albouy (Castres Olympique), Francois Gelez (Agen), Jimmy Marlu (Montferrand)
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.