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RugbyU: France bring back Fickou for Ireland clash

French coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Thursday recalled teenager Gael Fickou as one of four changes for the last-chance Six Nations clash with Ireland. Saint-Andre was forced to act after facing withering criticism for France's tactics in their narrow 19-17 victory over Scotland last Saturday. Nineteen-year-old Toulouse centre Fickou scored the dramatic late try that beat England and Saint Andre will need his aggressive talent in the battle for a victory on Saturday while the Six Nations crown is still mathematically open.

RugbyU: France make one change for Wales clash

Racing Matro flanker Wenceslas Lauret has returned to the French lineup for the Six Nations match against Wales in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff on Friday night. Lauret was named Wednesday to take over from Bernard Le Roux in the back row as the only change to the side that defeated Italy 30-10 in Paris in the last round of games. Le Roux was ruled out of the Wales game after being badly concussed in the match against the Italians.

Saint-Andre looks to bright future despite French woes

By Julien Pretot PARIS (Reuters) - France have improved during the Six Nations as they build towards the 2015 World Cup, manager Philippe Saint Andre said on Sunday despite his side finishing last for the first time since 1999. The 2011 World Cup runners-up ended their campaign with a 23-16 home win against Scotland, which was not sufficient for them to avoid the first wooden spoon. France lost three of their five matches and Saint Andre said the improvements his side showed were not reflected in the results.

France last in Six Nations despite win over Scots

By Julien Pretot PARIS (Reuters) - France ended a miserable Six Nations campaign with a 23-16 home win over Scotland on Saturday which was not sufficient to avoid finishing bottom of the table for the first time since 1999. Les Bleus, who needed to win by a 17-point margin or by 16 points with two tries to finish ahead of Ireland, were scoreless at halftime but tries to Wesley Fofana and Maxime Medard helped them end a seven-match winless streak in the championship.

RugbyU: French look to avoid repeat of 1999 wooden spoon

France will bid to erase a woeful Six Nations campaign by beating Scotland at the Stade de France on Saturday and hope other results go their way so they avoid their first wooden spoon since 1999. Ironically they landed the unwanted title thanks to a home defeat by the Scots, which was the last time they won in Paris. France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has told his players they have to win because they owe the French fans a big performance. "I have told the players they must battle for 80 minutes and take the game by the scruff of the neck," said the 45-year-old.

RugbyU: We've got to think positive, says Bastareaud

France have got to stop asking questions of themselves and start thinking positively, according to centre Mathieu Bastareaud. The 24-year-old was surprisingly dropped from the starting line-up for last Saturday's 13-13 draw with Ireland as he had made more of an impact than most of the backs in their three Six Nations defeats. However, whether he is in the starting XV or not for the final game with Scotland at the Stade de France this Saturday, he is hoping the whole squad can leave the tournament with one good performance under their belts.

RugbyU: South African Claassen gets first start for France

South African born flanker Antonie Claassen was named on Thursday to get his first start for France in their final Six Nations match against Scotland at the Stade de France on Saturday. The 28-year-old - son of a former Springbok captain - replaces Yannick Nyanga, who is on the replacements bench, and is one of three changes made by coach Philippe Saint-Andre to the starting XV that played in the 13-13 draw with Ireland last Saturday.

Rugby-Michalak returns for France trip to Ireland

PARIS, March 7 (Reuters) - Flyhalf Frederic Michalak will start for France when they visit Ireland in the Six Nations rugby championship on Saturday, manager Philippe Saint-Andre said on Thursday. Michalak's return is one of three changes made to the team who lost 23-13 in England, their third defeat in as many games in the competition. With Morgan Parra confirmed in the scrumhalf position for the Dublin game, France will start with a third different pairing of halves as they look for inspiration and experience.

Rugby-Bastareaud returns to France team against Wales

By Jean-Paul Couret MARCOUSSIS, France, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Centre Mathieu Bastareaud will start a France game for the first time in almost three years after he was named in the team to take on Wales in the Six Nations championship on Saturday. Bastareaud, who has been chosen at the expense of Florian Fritz in one of two changes to the side which lost 23-18 in Italy in last Sunday's opener, started his last game with Les Bleus in a 2010 Six Nations match against England.

RugbyU: Brunel calls on Italian belief ahead of French test

Jacques Brunel's hopes of making Italy believe they can gain at least two wins in this year's Six Nations face a first significant hurdle when the Azzurri host France at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday. Head coach Brunel led Italy to a fifth place finish last year thanks to a closing 13-6 victory over Scotland in Rome, having produced one of their best ever performances in a 15-19 loss to England.
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