Yachvili will throttle us if we cough up the ball, warns Tindall

Morgan Parra, the dinky little goal-kicking scrum-half from Clermont Auvergne, was one of the stand-out players in last season's Six Nations and has looked pretty damned good in this year's, too. So why have the French decided to drop him in favour of Dimitri Yachvili, the dinky little goal-kicking scrum-half from Biarritz? Mike Tindall, for one, smells a rat.

The England captain has run into Yachvili on many occasions down the years and has come to regard him as something special – a view reinforced by regular conversations with his close friend Iain Balshaw, the former red-rose full-back who plays alongside Yachvili down there on the Franco-Spanish border. "We talk a lot about who's playing well and Yachvili generally gets a mention," Tindall said yesterday. "I think he's world-class. He brings such variety to the game – he has a great brain, he reads situations so well, he has 'feel'. We have to be wary of him because he makes such good decisions."

Yachvili, who ended his spell of Premiership rugby at Gloucester and returned to France before Tindall made his move to Kingsholm six years ago, has had his golden moments against England in recent years. In 2004, he scored 19 points in the 24-21 victory in Paris. A year later, he scored all his country's points as the Tricolores overturned a 17-6 interval deficit to win 18-17 at Twickenham, and then contributed 16 points to a 31-6 hiding in Paris in '06.

He can play a tighter game than Parra, and as France seem likely to spend the first hour of today's contest in "up the guts" mode – the reappearance at No 8 of the pony-tailed pulveriser Sébastien Chabal guarantees a forthright approach – the change of personnel makes sense. Also, his highly developed awareness of space makes him one of the great maximisers of turnover ball.

"We know we can't afford to cough up possession," Tindall said. "We want to keep playing the way we're playing, finding the best ways of getting Chris Ashton and Mark Cueto off their wings and into the game, and there is a risk attached to that. We want to believe they'll never turn the ball over, but in reality, the possibility is always there. It's a matter of looking hard at how we can cover the edges if we lose possession, and then working our bollocks off to get back there."

According to Marc Lièvremont, the French coach, Yachvili and Parra are so closely matched, he can afford to select on rotation. "People say Yachvili traditionally performs well against England, and it is true that he is full of confidence at the moment," said the former flanker, who lives in Anglet, close to the Biarritz home ground. "But this is not a move specifically designed for England. I just wanted to shake up the group."

Tindall and his colleagues can be forgiven for taking this with a fistful of salt. Lièvremont has changed tack at No 9 for a reason, and it has nothing to do with Buggins's turn.

Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Morrissey pictured in 2013
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Robyn Lawley
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's First World War footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during the war. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end