Rugby Union: French begin a revolution prior to Five Nations challenge
Philippe Saint-Andre, who led the Tricolores to a record defeat against the Springboks in Paris last month, was omitted from a training squad due to meet next week to begin early preparations for the Five Nations' Championship. So too was Thierry Lacroix, despite his virtuoso performance for Harlequins against Wasps at the weekend, and, astonishingly, Abdel Benazzi and Jean-Luc Sadourny, acknowledged world-class acts at loose forward and full-back respectively.
Jean Claude-Skrela and his coaching sidekick, Pierre Villepreux, wielded their collective axe in other directions, too. Didier Casadei, the outstanding Brive loose-head prop, and his versatile clubmate, David Venditti, were also ignored, as were such luminaries as Olivier Merle and Laurent Cabannes. "We are not excluding anyone from future Test sides," insisted Villepreux. "We simply want to bring as many players as possible into our planning." A logical move, perhaps, but a bold one all the same.
Bath, hugely embarrassed at their 50-point mauling by Saracens at the weekend, have been rather less imaginative in naming their side for this Saturday's do-or-die Heineken Cup semi-final with Pau at the Recreation Ground. Their four changes are wholly predictable: Mark Regan for Andy Long at hooker, Richard Webster for Eric Peters on the blind-side flank, Mike Catt for Richard Butland at stand-off and a return to the left wing for Adedayo Adebayo, which will allow Matt Perry to switch back to outside centre.
There may, however, be a surprise twist on the personnel front. Adebayo, who strained his back before the Saracens match, remains a slight doubt and Bath have put Simon Geoghegan, their perpetually injured Irish wing, on standby. Geoghegan has played fewer than 20 matches in three years, due mainly to chronic toe problems that have required nine separate bouts of surgery.
Pau have made one change from the side who started against Leicester in last month's quarter-final, replacing the lock Thierry Mentieres with Alain Lagouarde.
The Wales captain, Gwyn Jones, was "comfortable" yesterday after an operation to ease pressure on his spine. The Cardiff flanker suffered a serious neck injury during Saturday's match against Swansea.
Latest in Sport
Manchester United teased by Monaco after claims they could have signed 'Luis Suarez of Neymar' instead or £58m Anthony Martial
Former Manchester United star Karel Poborsky goes full hipster
England vs San Marino, Euro 2016 qualifier: Jamie Vardy cleared to make first start for country
Manchester United hit back at Real Madrid by claiming they let David De Gea 'slip through their fingers into the back of the net'
Serie B introduces 'green cards' to promote good behaviour, fair play and sportsmanship
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 3 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...
£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...
£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...