ESPN SCRUM

/ News

Australia v France, 2nd Test
Saint-Andre blames foreign props for French problems
ESPN Staff
June 12, 2014
Thomas Domingo has been benched for the second Test © Getty Images
Enlarge

The rugby world has turned upside down: Australia, with its infamous history of scrum woes, have forced France - who fete their props like heroes - into drastic front-row changes for the second Test at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Powerful and crafty scrummaging props are as French as croissants; it's their bread and butter. But France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has lamented the dearth of quality front-rowers in his country following their 50-23 pounding by the Wallabies in the opening Test.

Saint-Andre has dumped both of his starting props, veteran tight-head Nicholas Mas and grizzled loose-head Thomas Domingo, to expose the uncapped Alexandre Menini and seven-Test Rabah Slimani in Melbourne.

The coach said the changes were a result of a poor scrum in Brisbane, continuing their dramas with referees during this year's Six Nations, as well as a need to build depth. France's cashed-up Top 14 league is growing bigger each year, but the propensity of clubs to sign high-profile imports is costing the national team in several positions - including the front-row.

France's Nicolas Mas, Wales v France, Six Nations, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, February 21, 2014
Nicolas Mas has been the face of the French front row © PA Photos
Enlarge

"We don't have too many props in France because they're all foreigners so we need to [expose them]," Saint-Andre told AAP. "If we don't try out some props in a tour 15 months from the World Cup, we'll never try them. This is an opportunity to see them in a fantastic contest."

The tourists normally enter Tests against Australia targeting the scrum, but not at the moment. English, New Zealand, Argentinian and Georgian props fill about half the positions available in France's Top 14, and the Wallabies are patching up their long-time Achilles heel.

The Australian scrum's stocks have gradually started to rise since the 2013 Rugby Championship, after coming to terms with the new soft engagement laws, and rising loose-head James Slipper underlined his talent at Suncorp Stadium by outpointing 72-cap Mas, 34, in his 50th Test - just a day after turning 25.

"If you have a good scrum the morale of the team picks up and everyone gets excited and looking for a result at the scrum," Slipper said.

But chinks still remain in the Aussie armour.

The French, with their front-row reserves opposing the Wallabies replacements, scored a pushover penalty try on full-time, which led to back-up tight-head Paddy Ryan's axing.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Latest
  • Most Viewed
  • News
  • Features
  • Rugby

    NSW dominate Under-20 squad selection

    Andrew Kellaway is one of 12 players from the national championship-winning NSW Under-20 side named in the Australia squad for the Oceania championship

  • Rugby

    Fiji win Hong Kong Sevens

    Fiji win the 40th Hong Kong Sevens, defeating reigning champions New Zealand 33-19 in the Cup final for their 15th title

  • Tennis

    Quick-fire Murray cruises through in Miami

    Andy Murray brushed aside Colombia's Santiago Giraldo with the minimum of fuss in the third round of the Miami Open

  • Football

    Anfield welcomes back Luis Suarez with open arms

    Luis Suarez received a rapturous reception as he made his first return to Anfield since joining Barcelona, playing the second half of a charity game between sides captained by Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher

  • Golf

    Emotional Richie Ramsay claims victory at Trophee Hassan II

    Scotland's Richie Ramsay recovered from seeing a three-shot lead disappear in the space of two holes to win the Hassan Trophy after a rollercoaster final round on Sunday

  • Rugby

    Quade Cooper gives Reds fans reason to believe

    Queensland are worth watching again, even if victory over the Lions would have papered over cracks, because Quade Cooper is back in the No.10 jersey, Greg Growden writes

  • Rugby

    Cooper makes a strong return to take title

    In a exciting return from injury, Quade Cooper thrilled fans to become Player of the Round, while a new star now leads the medal tally

  • Rugby

    Cultured Hurricanes are all heart

    The Hurricanes have always been a franchise rich on talent, but something was always awry; not any more as they look the real deal Sam Bruce writes

  • Week in Words

    Old dog, new tricks

    In the latest edition of ESPN's Week in Words, Dion Dublin makes something of a career change, RFU officials have some harsh words for the national team, and Kell Brook is eyeing a bigger prize...

  • Football

    A Klose call

    Miroslav Klose scored goals in the World Cup final tournaments of 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. Has anyone else scored World Cup goals 12 years apart?

  • News
  • Features

Sponsored Links

Make Huge Income from your Home
Download your Free Guide And Learn How To Increase Your Monthly Income