News in brief
Lievremont tinkers with France squad
Florian Fritz retunrs to the France squad to face England
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- France coach Marc Lievremont has made four changes to his squad to face England at Twickenham on March 15. Florian Fritz, Damien Traille, Jerome Thion and Julien Bonnaire are recalled to the squad, with fullback Clement Poitrenaud, last weekend's fly-half Benoit Baby, Fulgence Ouedraogo and Louis Picamoles leaving the squad.
Following victory over Wales at the Stade de France last time out , many speculated as to whether Lievremont mould stick with the same side against England but he has again tinkered with his selection. Francois Trinh-Duc is the sole fly-half in the squad after injuries to Lionel Beauxis and Baby while Sebastien Chabal looks set to move into the back-row from lock. Toulouse centre Fritz returns after a ban for striking, but will face opposition from Mathieu Bastareaud after a strong showing against Wales.
- England manager Martin Johnson has wished the England Sevens sides well as they prepare for a tilt at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai on Thursday.
"To everyone involved in the England men and women's Rugby World Cup Sevens squads I, and the Elite Senior Player Squad, just want to wish both teams every success in Dubai," said Johnson. "We will be monitoring the results of both teams closely and I know you will both give a good account of yourselves."
- New Zealand Sevens have been forced into a late change ahead of the Rugby World Cup Sevens, with Tu Umaga Marshall pulling out with a back injury 24 hours before kick-off. His place in the squad has been taken by Julian Savea.
- The Scarlets have received a boost with the news that centre Regan King will not be out for the season as originally thought. King suffered a tear to his hamstring while playing against Leinster in the Magners League several weeks ago, but Scarlets boss Nigel Davies has confirmed that he is recovering ahead of schedule. The West Wales region are also in talks to bring former players Barry Davies and Liam Davies back to Parc y Scarlets from Brive.
- Newcastle Falcons wing John Rudd has been banned for three weeks after being cited for a dangerous tackle on Saracens fly-half Glen Jackson during their Guinness Premiership match at Kingston Park on February 20. Having pleaded guilty before an RFU disciplinary panel he will be eligible to play again on March 26.
- Bristol sextet Chris Ashwin, Ed Barnes, David Blaney, Mark Irish, Redford Pennycook and Roy Winters have all signed new deals with the struggling Guinness Premiership side.