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Teddy Thomas: France wing benched as Damian Penaud starts Six Nations game against Ireland | Rugby Union News

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Teddy Thomas fails to retain his place in France’s starting line-up despite scoring two second-half tries against Italy last weekend; Damian Penaud starts on the wing with Anthony Jelonch named at flanker; France have not won in Dublin since 2011 Six Nations

Last Updated: 12/02/21 1:24pm

Teddy Thomas must settle for a place on the bench

France have dropped Teddy Thomas to the bench for Sunday’s Six Nations game with Ireland despite his two-try display against Italy.

Thomas, whose break created the opening try in France’s 50-10 win in Rome before scoring twice in the second half, has been replaced on the wing by Clermont Auvergne’s Damian Penaud.

The only other change to the starting line-up comes in the back-row where Anthony Jelonch is preferred to Dylan Cretin, who opened the scoring against Italy.

“Teddy played a very good game in Rome but Damian and (fellow winger) Gabin Villiere are better to handle high balls and the pressure the Irish will put on the wings,” said France head coach Fabien Galthie.

“Anthony Jelonch is a player who gets better as the intensity increases. The harder it gets, the better he gets.”

Antoine Dupont and Matthew Jalibert continue their half-back partnership after standout displays last weekend, the former scoring a try and creating four more.

Dupont also scored the opening try in France’s 35-27 win over Ireland in their rescheduled 2020 Six Nations match last October.

Antoine Dupont maintained his superb form in last weekend's win over Italy

Antoine Dupont maintained his superb form in last weekend’s win over Italy

France have failed to win on their last four Six Nations trips to Dublin, losing the last three.

“We need to be solid in chaos,” said Galthie. “We’ve been preparing for everything but we need to be ready for the unexpected.

“We’re on a path, we will get better, we will improve and we’re already better than last year. The team is getting more depth.”

Ireland will be without first-choice half-backs Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray for Sunday’s match, with lock James Ryan also ruled out due to injury and flanker Peter O’Mahony suspended.

“I wish them a speedy recovery,” said Galthie when asked about Murray and Sexton’s absence.

“The replacements (Billy Burns and Jamison Gibson-Park) are the ones who finished the game in Wales. The scrum-half doesn’t have the same profile as Murray but his kicking game is very accurate. He’s very dangerous, we’ll have to be wary of him around the rucks.”

France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Arthur Vincent, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Gabin Villiere, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Antoine Dupont; 1 Cyril Baille, 2 Julien Marchand, 3 Mohamed Haouas, 4 Bernard Le Roux, 5 Paul Willemse, 6 Anthony Jelonch, 7 Charles Ollivon (c), 8 Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements: 16 Pierre Bourgarit, 17 Hassane Kolingar, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Dylan Cretin, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Anthony Boutier, 23 Teddy Thomas.

O’Gara: Pride seeping back into France national team

La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara has seen the French club game predominate the national side in the minds of players in recent years, but that is now beginning to revert in light of their resurgence under Fabien Galthie.

“The mentality has changed,” said the former Ireland fly-half.

“It was unbelievable to think when I was coaching at Racing that you had some guys you’d hear that weren’t interested in going to French camp. That’s very, very strange.

“Now it’s the complete opposite. Now it’s different – they’d run the 200km from La Rochelle to get to French camp!

“There’s still huge interest in the club game, but I think now there’s a nice bit of pride seeping back into their national team.

“Bizarrely, the World Cup probably did that for them, and then they imploded against Wales [in the quarter-final], (Sebastien) Vahaamahina with the discipline issue. But I think they won a lot of hearts back in that tournament. Then obviously the performance with their second team in Twickenham has them up for this Six Nations.”

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