Mathieu Bastareaud has been left out of France’s squad for the Rugby World Cup, while there is also no place for Morgan Parra.
Bastareaud served as vice-captain during the Six Nations this year but the imposing centre has paid the price for a disappointing campaign, where France finished a distant fourth after losing three of their five matches
Sofiane Guitoune of Toulouse features among the backs in Bastareaud’s absence, while explosive Fiji-born wing Alivereti Raka is one of three uncapped players included by Jacques Brunel alongside Peato Mauvaka and Emerick Setiano – a factor in Teddy Thomas missing the cut.
In April, Bastareaud announced he would leave Toulon on a season-long loan after the World Cup to represent the fledgling Rugby United New York franchise in Major League Rugby.
Speaking at a news conference to announce his squad, Brunel was reluctant to be drawn on whether fitness had been a factor in the experienced 30-year-old being left out and also denied incoming coach Fabien Galthie – who will replace him after the tournament in Japan – had a say on selection following discussions between the pair.
“It is in relation to the criteria that we took into consideration, with the characteristics that we identified,” he said.
“It is a position where there is a lot of competition and performers all year round, especially Sofiane Guitoune who is in this group.
“Fabien Galthie did not wish to influence the decision because Fabien himself told me he did not know the players and the group enough.”
Brunel dropped half-backs Parra and Camille Lopez after France’s 44-8 hammering by England at Twickenham.
Youngsters Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack started in place of the Clermont Auvergne pair for the remainder of the Six Nations.
Fly-half Lopez has made the cut but, like Bastareaud, scrum-half Parra – capped 71 times by his country – does not even feature among the six players on standby.
“The group is rejuvenated with many players who are 25 years and under,” Brunel added. “But there is still experience with Yoann Huget, Wesley Fofana and Maxime Medard.”
France have been drawn in Pool C alongside England, Argentina, United States and Tonga, opening their campaign against the Pumas in Tokyo on September 21.
Voici les 37 joueurs retenus pour la préparation de la Coupe du Monde 2019 au Japon ! Il est composé d’un premier groupe de 31 joueurs et de 6 suppléants ! #XVdeFrance #RWC2019 #NeFaisonsXV pic.twitter.com/FeJWbSUmDS
— Fédération Française de Rugby (@FFRugby) June 18, 2019
France squad in full:
Forwards: Gregory Alldritt, Demba Bamba, Yacouba Camara, Camille Chat, Paul Gabrillagues, Guilhem Guirado, Arthur Iturria, Felix Lambey, Wenceslas Lauret, Bernard Le Roux, Peato Mauvaka, Louis Picamoles, Jefferson Poirot, Dany Priso, Emerick Setiano, Rabah Slimani, Sebastien Vahaamahina.
Backs: Geoffrey Doumayrou, Antoine Dupont, Gael Fickou, Wesley Fofana, Sofiane Guitoune, Yoann Huget, Camile Lopez, Maxime Machenaud, Maxime Medard, Romain Ntamack, Damian Penaud, Alivereti Raka, Thomas Ramos, Baptiste Serin.
Reserves: Anthony Belleau, Francois Cros, Etienne Falgoux, Charles Ollivon, Vincent Rattez, Paul Willemse.
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