France v Wales, Six Nations, February 27
Marconnet back for France
February 18, 2009
France prop Sylvain Marconnet runs with the ball, Ireland v France, Six Nations Championship, Croke Park, Dublin, February 11, 2007
Marconnet's last appearance for France was against Wales in the 2007 Six Nations © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Marc Lievremont | Sylvain Marconnet
Tournaments/Tours: Six Nations
Teams: France

Sylvain Marconnet has been recalled by France for their Six Nations match against Wales in Paris a week on Friday.

The experienced Stade Francais prop, who has 71 caps, last played for Les Bleus in February 2007 but has struggled with injuries over the past couple of years. With props Benoit Lecouls (neck) and Nicolas Mas (adductor) out injured, Marconnet has been called up by France head coach Marc Lievremont while fellow front-row forward Thomas Domingo is also included ahead of Renaud Boyoud, who drops out of the squad.

With Florian Fritz banned, Maxime Mermoz remains in the squad as one of three centres. The Perpignan youngster sustained a slight thigh injury in the 22-13 win over Scotland on Saturday but will be fully fit by next week.

There are no other changes in France's 23-man squad, with Lievremont going with continuity despite the team's hit-and-miss displays so far in the Six Nations. Lievremont and the French have come in for criticism following their frustrating display against the Scots, which came a week after their 30-21 defeat to Ireland in Dublin.

There had been calls for Toulouse fly-half David Skrela to return as a cover for the number 10 and centre positions but Benoit Baby, who has failed to shine in the opening two matches, is retained by the selectors. Indeed, there are no changes in the backs, nor among the locks or in the back row.

Marconnet's return is the biggest talking point. The Stade Francais veteran's last appearance for France came in the 32-21 win over Wales at the Stade de France just under two years ago. Days after that game, he broke his leg while skiing with his family and he was not only ruled out of the rest of that Six Nations but also the Rugby World Cup later that year. Only in the last few months has he got his form back for his Parisian club.

"He is back in form and can bring us his experience," Lievremont said of Marconnet. "He has strung a lot of matches together and has a lot of enthusiasm. His return was expected."

Lievremont added Domingo's inclusion was aided by his ability to cover both prop positions. Lievremont is scheduled to name on Monday his starting XV for the game against Wales, the reigning champions who have won their first two matches of this year's edition.

The France coach is well aware of the task facing his side in Paris against a Wales side he rates as 'perfect'. "We're not going to concede the match ... but we are not going to escape from the reality of what's ahead of us, either," he told L'Equipe. "There are many things we have to put right in our own game before challenging a team that masters its rugby perfectly.

"Wales are the bogey side for us, big favourites to win this tournament, and rightly so. We need to be far more competitive if we just want to worry Wales, let alone beat them. Our players know they have to play an enormous match."

France's 23-man squad for their Six Nations match against Wales in Paris a week on Friday:

Backs: Clement Poitrenaud (Toulouse), Julien Malzieu (Clermont-Auvergne), Maxime Medard, Cedric Heymans (both Toulouse), Maxime Mermoz (Perpignan), Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), Benoit Baby (Clermont-Auvergne), Lionel Beauxis (Stade Francais), Morgan Parra (Bourgoin), Sebastien Tillous-Borde (Castres).

Forwards: Fabien Barcella (Biarritz), Lionel Faure (Sale), Thomas Domingo (Clermont-Auvergne), Sylvain Marconnet (Stade Francais), Benjamin Kayser (Leicester), Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Francais), Sebastien Chabal (Sale), Romain Millo-Chluski (Toulouse), Lionel Nallet (Castres, capt), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz), Fulgence Ouedraogo, Louis Picamoles (both Montpellier).


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