6 Jan 2012

New France rugby coach names first squad

6:38 am on 6 January 2012

The new France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has kept faith with 22 members of the squad that reached the Rugby World Cup final in naming a 30-strong squad to prepare for the Six Nations tournament.

It was the former international winger's first selection since taking over from Marc Lievremont, who endured as torrid time in New Zealand before taking France to the World Cup final, where they lost 8-7 to the All Blacks.

Among those brought back into the squad were Toulouse backs Clement Poitrenaud and Lionel Beauxis, who both missed out on the trip to New Zealand, while two uncapped players - Toulouse lock Yoann Maestri and Clermont centre Wesley Fofana - get a first call up.

There was no place, however, for controversial Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud or Stade Francais halfback Julien Dupuy.

Toulouse back-row player Thierry Dusautoir, who was outstanding in the final against the All Blacks and was named IRB Player of the Year, retains the captaincy.

France open their Six Nations campaign against Italy at Stade de France on February the 4th.