PARIS - France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has responded to consecutive defeats to Italy and Wales in the Six Nations championship by making five changes to the squad to face Grand Slam contenders England at Twickenham.
The Rugby World Cup runners-up lost 16-6 at home to Wales in a shambolic performance on Sunday, following the galling 23-18 loss to Italy in Rome — the first time the French have started a campaign with consecutive defeats since 1982.
"After these defeats, we've made five changes because it is necessary to freshen up the squad mentally and physically," Saint-Andre said yesterday as he prepared for the game on February 23.
"We want to get the team spirit back that we had in November," he added in reference to wins over Australia and Argentina that secured a top-four ranking for the 2015 World Cup.
Winger Vincent Clerc, who has 34 international tries, is recalled after missing the two recent matches because of a thigh injury. Prop Thomas Domingo, lock Christophe Samson, backrower Antoine Claassen and flanker Yannick Nyanga are the others to return.