The final rounds of the top 14 clash with France’s tour of Argentina.
Although some French fans had a sense of renewed optimism after the Six Nations concluded, the defeats against England, Wales and Scotland were sobering.
While France were at times dangerous in attack, their defensive structures looked porous to say the least. As a result, Guy Noves has plenty to do if France are to make a return to the pinnacle of the European game.
However, the French coach will have to wait until next Autumn before he can work with many of his first choice players again. This is because this season’s Top 14 semi finals and final are scheduled to clash with France’s tour of Argentina.
The fixture overlap has occurred as the start of the Top 14 season was delayed due to the 2015 World Cup. Consequently, while the French national team will be playing Argentina on June 18 and 25, on those same weekends, the Top 14 will be revelling in it’s end of season semi finals, June 17/18, and final, June 24.
This of course means that France will be without many of their top players for their two game tour. Indeed, with France teetering on the edge of falling out of the world’s top eight sides, they cannot afford to lose ranking points and miss out on a World Cup seeding ahead of the draw in the middle of 2017.
However, if the four current sides who are leading the Top 14 were to make the semi finals, it would mean that France could be without at least 15 members of their Six Nations squad.
Worse still, if Toulouse were to qualify for the semi finals, an additional seven players would risk missing out. A distinct possibility, as they are currently 6th and occupy a quarter final spot.
Indeed if Bordeaux Begles, currently 5th, were to qualify for the semi finals, France could be without a further three players.
It is therefore expected that the French touring squad will be built around the likes of La Rochelle’s, Uini Atonio, Vincent Pelo, Kevin Gourdon, and Stade Francais, Rabah Slimani, Alexandre Flanquart, Antoine Burban, Jules Plisson, Jonathan Danty, Djibril Camara, Hugo Bonneval.
A list of players who could potentially miss out on France’s summer tour.
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Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
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