In the aftermath of their embarrassing World Cup exit at the hands of New Zealand, the French Rugby Federation demanded that a 30 man elite squad be nominated at the beginning of each season, so as to protect those players from injury and exhaustion.
Those included in the elite squad become available to Guy Noves 15 days before the beginning of the Six Nations, and for eight consecutive weekends thereafter. This brings an end to the ignominy of Noves having to release players in the middle of the Championship, something that has been to the determent of France in the past.
Indeed, the Top 14 play-offs were given supremacy over the French national team this summer, when Noves was forced to select players from outside of the competition’s six best clubs for France’s tour of Argentina.
While the elite squad will only have an impact upon the French Six Nations squad, any triumph over the likes of Toulon, Racing 92 and the LNR will be celebrated by officials in the FFR. Nevertheless, this being France, Noves has sprung a number of surprises.
Despite being contracted to the FFR, Virimi Vakatawa has not been included in the elite squad. Jonathan Danty is another high profile omission, as are Morgan Parra and Brice Dulin.
Mathieu Bastareaud continues to be ignored by Noves, while Clermont’s Noa Nakaitaci has been dropped altogether. Although Louis Picamoles’ name does not feature, his move to the Northampton Saints means he cannot feature in the elite squad, but can be included in the French set up during the Six Nations.
Nevertheless, with the likes of Eddy Ben Arous, Guilhem Guirado, François Trinh-Duc and Wesley Fofana included, Noves has the makings of a strong starting XV.
French Elite Squad.
Uini Atonio (La Rochelle), Eddy Ben Arous (Racing 92 ), Sébastien Bézy (Toulouse), Djibril Camara (Stade Francais), Camille Chat (Racing 92), Damien Chouly (Clermont), Jean-Marc Doussain (Toulouse), Gaël Fickou (Toulouse), Alexandre Flanquart (Stade Francais), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Loann Goujon (Bordeaux-Bègles ), Kevin Gourdon (La Rochelle), Guilhem Guirado (Toulon), Yoann Huget (Toulouse) , Paul Jedrasiak (Clermont), Rémi Lamerat (Clermont), Wenceslas Lauret (Racing 92), Julien Le Devedec (Brive), Bernard Le Roux (Racing 92), Maxime Machenaud (Racing 92), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Maxime Médard (Toulouse), Maxime Mermoz (Toulon), Jules Plisson (Stade Francais), Jefferson Poirot (Bordeaux-Bègles), Baptiste Serin (Bordeaux-Bègles), Rabah Slimani (Stade Francais), Scott Spedding (Clermont), François Trinh-Duc (Toulon), Sébastien Vahaamahina (Clermont).
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
Read More About: brice dulin, clermont auvergne, Eddy Ben Arous, ffr, France, francois trinh-duc, Guilhem Guirado, guy noves, Jonathan Danty, LNR, louis picamoles, morgan Parra, new zealand, Noa Nakaitaci, northampton saints, Virimi Vakatawa, wesley fofana