Sport

Published: Thursday March 13, 2014 MYT 9:08:58 PM
Updated: Thursday March 13, 2014 MYT 9:08:58 PM

Picamoles back for France in Ireland decider

France's Gael Fickou escapes to score a try against England during their Six Nations rugby union match at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, near Paris, February 1, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

France's Gael Fickou escapes to score a try against England during their Six Nations rugby union match at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, near Paris, February 1, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

(Reuters) - France manager Phillipe Saint-Andre has made four changes to his side for the final match of the Six Nations against title-chasing Ireland at the Stade de France on Saturday, including a return for forward Louis Picamoles.

Toulouse's Picamoles was dropped for the narrow victory over Scotland last week after being disrespectful to referee Alain Rolland, who showed him a yellow card during France's defeat by Wales in the previous round of matches.

Exciting teenager Gael Fickou comes in at centre in place of Maxime Mermoz who drops to the bench. It will be the 19-year-old's first start in the position in the tournament.

Remi Tales replaces Jules Plisson at fly-half with Dimitri Szarzewski in at hooker for the climax to an absorbing championship that France can only win if they beat Ireland and England fail to beat Italy in Rome.

Picamoles' recall means Sebastien Vahaamahina drops to the bench.

England, France and Ireland all have six points going into the final round of matches but Ireland's far superior points difference means that England would need a monumental win in Italy to overhaul them should the Irish win in Paris.

If France win then any England victory in Italy should be enough to secure only their second title since 2003.

France team:

15-Brice Dulin, 14-Yoann Huget, 13-Mathieu Bastareaud, 12-Gael Fickou, 11-Maxime Medard, 10-Remi Tales, 9-Maxime Machenaud, 8-Damien Chouly, 7-Alexandre Lapandry, 6-Louis Picamoles, 5-Yoann Maestri, 4-Pascal Pape (captain), 3-Nicolas Mas, 2-Dmitry Szarzewski, 1-Thomas Domingo

Replacements: 16-Guilhem Guirado, 17-Vincent Debaty, 18-Rabah Slimani, 19-Alexandre Flanquart, 20-Sebastien Vahaamahina, 21-Wenceslas Lauret, 22-Jean-Marc Doussain, 23-Maxime Mermoz

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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