Matthieu Jalibert named in France team to face Ireland

The 19-year-old sensation will make his debut for Jacques Brunel’s side on Saturday

French coach Jacques Brunel has handed a debut to 19-year-old Bordeaux-Begles outhalf Matthieu Jalibert for Saturday's opening Six Nations match against Ireland at the Stade de France (4.45, Irish time).

Jalibert hadn’t played a senior rugby match before the start of this season but after 15 appearances for his club and following on from his performances last year at Under-20 level, he will be in the crucial pivot position for Brunel’s first match in charge since taking over from Guy Noves in November.

Castres Olympique’s Geoffrey Palis is named at fullback, a second debutant on the team having returned to rugby in December following eight months out with a knee injury. Teddy Thomas and Fijian born Virimi Vakatawa are named on the wings while Racing 92’s Henry Chavancy has been chosen to partner Remi Lamerat in the midfield. Geoffrey Doumayrou has a slight thigh strain.

Jalibert will be partnered by Maxime Machenaud at halfback, the 29-year-old Racing 92 scrumhalf likely to assume the place-kicking duties as he does at club level. Brunel has gone with Rabah Slimani and Jefferson Poirot at prop, either side of captain, Guilhem Guirado, who has recovered from gastroenteritis that laid him low last weekend.


Clermont Auvergne pair Sebastien Vahaamahina and Arthur Iturria have been named at the locks while Kevin Gourdon will win his 16th cap at number eight. Yacouba Camara missed the November test series through injury but returns to a backrow that also includes Wenceslas Lauret.

The uncapped quartet of Dany Priso and Cedate Gomes Sa (props), Adrien Pelissié (hooker) and Marco Tauleigne (back-row) have been included amongst the replacements.

FRANCE: G Palis; T Thomas, R Lamerat, H Chavancy, V Vakatawa; M Jalibert, M Machenaud; J Poirot, G Guirado (capt), R Slimani; S Vahaamahina, A Iturria; Y Camara, W Lauret, K Gourdon.

Replacements: A Pelissié, D Priso, C Gomes Sa, P Gabrillagues, M Tauleigne, A Dupont, A Belleau, B Fall