France ended this year's championship in second place

France Six Nations Squad 2021

France kept their Six Nations title hopes alive until the last match but ultimately had to settle for second place in the table behind Wales.

The French needed a big bonus-point win against Scotland at the Stade de France, but lost 27-23 following a late Duhan van der Merwe try.

Related: Scotland beat France in Paris for first time in 22 years

Coupled with their narrow defeat by England at Twickenham, it was second place once more for France, who haven’t won a Six Nations title since 2010.

Still, they look to be building nicely for a home World Cup in 2023.

France team to play Scotland – Friday 26 March

Brice Dulin; Damian Penaud, Virimi Vakatawa, Arthur Vincent, Gael Fickou; Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Mohamed Haouas, Bernard Le Roux, Swan Rebbadj, Anthony Jelonch, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements: Camille Chat, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Uini Atonio, Romain Taofifenua, Dylan Cretin, Baptiste Serin, Anthony Bouthier, Teddy Thomas.

France team to play Wales – Saturday 20 March

Brice Dulin; Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa, Gael Fickou, Damian Penaud; Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Mohamed Haouas, Romain Taofifenua, Paul Willemse, Dylan Cretin, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements: Camille Chat, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Uini Atonio, Swan Rebbadj, Anthony Jelonch, Baptiste Serin, Romain Ntamack, Arthur Vincent.

RUGBY WORLD VERDICT

France have been the best team in Europe for the past 14 months – certainly the best to watch, writes Sarah Mockford. They may not have been the one lifting the trophies but they are the Six Nations side that has made the most significant strides since RWC 2019.

They have a young squad with plenty of depth and are well coached – take this set move for Damian Penaud’s try against England last week…

Their disappointment at missing out on a Grand Slam by losing to England last week was evident when the final whistle blew at Twickenham. The question now is whether they can bounce back to beat Wales and maintain their title hopes. There’s no doubting their talent and skills, but this could come down to mentality.

France team to play England – Saturday 13 March

Brice Dulin; Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa, Gael Fickou, Damian Penaud; Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Mohamed Haouas, Romain Taofifenua, Paul Willemse, Dylan Cretin, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements: Camille Chat, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Dorian Aldegheri, Cyril Cazeaux, Cameron Woki, Anthony Jelonch, Baptiste Serin, Romain Ntamack.

RUGBY WORLD VERDICT

The return of Virimi Vakatawa in midfield is a huge boost for France, writes Sarah Mockford. He was in superb form before injury struck just before the championship and his triple threat of step, fend and offload are sure to keep England busy in defence.

Some might have expected Romain Ntamack to come back into the starting line-up now he’s recovered from jaw surgery, but Matthieu Jalibert has been excellent at fly-half in this championship and deserves to retain the No 10 shirt. It will be interesting to see if Fabien Galthie brings Ntamack on to play alongside Jalibert in a dual playmaking option – the pair at 10-12 could prove very effective.

Bernard Le Roux’s injury means they lose experience in the second row but Romain Taofifenua and Paul Willemse will form a hefty unit. Plus, with an six-two split between forwards and backs on the bench, it’s clear France are keen to take England on physically up front.

France team to play Ireland – Sunday 14 February

Brice Dulin; Damian Penaud, Arthur Vincent, Gael Fickou, Gabin Villiere; Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Mohamed Haouas, Bernard Le Roux, Paul Willemse, Anthony Jelonch, Gregory Alldritt, Charles Ollivon.

Replacements: Pierre Bourgarit, Hassane Kolingar, Uini Atonio, Romain Taofifenua, Dylan Cretin, Baptiste Serin, Anthony Bouthier, Teddy Thomas

France team to play Italy – Saturday 6 February

Brice Dulin; Teddy Thomas, Arthur Vincent, Gael Fickou, Gabin Villiere; Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Mohamed Haouas, Bernard Le Roux, Paul Willemse, Dylan Cretin, Gregory Alldritt, Charles Ollivon.

Replacements: Pierre Bourgarit, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Dorian Aldegheri, Romain Taofifenua, Anthony Jelonch, Baptiste Serin, Louis Carbonel, Damian Penaud.

France Six Nations squad 2021

Forwards

(DoB/Club/Position/Test debut/caps)

Dorian Aldegheri (4 Aug 1993/Toulouse/Prop/2019 v England/8)
Gregory Alldritt (23 March 1997/La Rochelle/Back-row/2019 v Wales/23)
Cyril Baille (15 Sep 1993/Toulouse/Prop/2016 v Samoa/28)
Pierre Bourgarit (12 Sep 1997/La Rochelle/Hooker/2018 v New Zealand/5)
Cyril Cazeaux (10 Feb 1995/Bordeaux Bègles/Lock/2020 v Italy/2)
Camille Chat (18 Dec 1995/Racing 92/Hooker/2016 v Ireland/33)
Dylan Cretin (4 Mar 1997/Lyon/Back-row/2020 v Wales/10)
Jean-Baptiste Gros (29 May 1999/Toulon/Prop/2020 v Wales/9)
Mohamed Haouas (9 Mar 1994/Montpellier/2020 v England/12)
Wilfrid Hounkpatin (29 Jul 1991/Castres/Prop/uncapped)
Anthony Jelonch (28 Jul 1996/Castres/Back-row/2017 v New Zealand/8)
Bernard Le Roux (4 Jun 1989/Racing 92/Back-row/2013 v New Zealand/47)
Julien Marchand (10 May 1995/Toulouse/Hooker/2018 v Fiji/14)
Charles Ollivon (11 May 1993/Toulon/Back-row/2014 v Fiji/23)
Romain Taofifenua (13 Sep 1990/Toulon/Lock/2012 v Argentina/25)
Paul Willemse (13 Nov 1993/Montpellier/Lock/2019 v Wales/16)
Cameron Woki (7 November 1998/Bordeaux Bègles/Back-row/2020 v England/5)

Backs
Anthony Bouthier (19 Jun 1992/Montpellier/Full-back/2020 v England/6)
Baptiste Couilloud (22 Jul 1997/Lyon/Scrum-half/2018 v Italy/5)
Jonathan Danty (7 Oct 1992/Stade Francias/Centre/2016 v Italy/6)
Brice Dulin (13 Apr 1990/La Rochelle/Full-back/2012 v Argentina/36)
Antoine Dupont (15 Nov 1996/Toulouse/Scrum-half/2017 v Italy/32)
Gael Fickou (26 Mar 1994/Stade Francias/Centre/2013 v Scotland/63)
Matthieu Jalibert (6 Nov 1998/Bordeaux Bègles/Fly-half/2018 v Ireland/12)
Yoram Moefana (18 Jul 2000/Bordeaux Bègles/Centre/2020 v Italy/2)
Romain Ntamack (1 May 1999/Toulouse/Fly-half/2019 v Wales/20)
Damian Penaud (25 Sep 1996/Clermont/Wing/2017 v South Africa/22)
Baptiste Serin (20 Jun 1994/Toulon/Scrum-half/2016 v Argentina/42)
Donovan Taofifenua (30 Mar 1999/Racing 92/Wing/Uncapped)
Teddy Thomas (18 Sep 1993/Racing 92/Wing/2014 v Fiji/27)
Virimi Vakatawa (1 May 1992/Racing 92/Centre/2016 v Italy/30)

stadium

Home turf: France play their home matches at Stade de France (Getty Images)

France Six Nations Fixtures 2021

(All kick-off times are GMT)

Sat 6 February, Italy 10-50 France Dupont dazzles as France crush Italy in Six Nations opener
Sun 14 February, Ireland 13-15 France France win in Dublin for first time since 2011
Fri 26 March, France 23-27 Scotland Scotland beat France in Paris for first time in 22 years
Sat 13 March, England 23-20 France Antoine Dupont scores after 65 seconds
Sat 20 March, France 32-30 Wales Late Brice Dulin try denies Wales a Grand Slam

Don’t miss a game with our TV coverage guide

Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram