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Elissalde omitted from French rugby squad

  • Story Highlights
  • Experienced Jean-Baptiste Elissalde omitted from France squad to face Irish
  • Coach Marc Lievremont trimmed squad from 30 to 23 for next week's match
  • Elissalde was expected to be Les Bleus' starting scrum-half at Croke Park
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(CNN) -- France will go into their opening match of the Six Nations rugby match against Ireland on Saturday week with little experience at half-back after Jean-Baptiste Elissalde was surprisingly omitted from their trimmed-down 23-man squad.

Elissalde is a surprise omission from the France squad for their Six Nations opener against Ireland.

Elissalde is a surprise omission from the France squad for their Six Nations opener against Ireland.

Elissalde was expected to be not only Les Bleus' starting scrum-half at Croke Park but also the back-up to fly-half Lionel Beauxis.

But the Toulouse number nine failed to make the cut as head coach Marc Lievremont trimmed his squad from the 30 he named last week for a training camp held over the past three days at France's base in Marcoussis.

Bourgoin's Morgan Parra and Castres' Sebastien Tillous-Borde, who have only a handful of caps between them, have been preferred at scrum-half.

Biarritz back-row forward Imanol Harinordoquy, who was not part of that enlarged training squad as he recovered from a knee injury, has been drafted in by Lievremont for the Ireland match but the main talking point was Elissalde's omission.

"We know the talent, the dominance and the impact on the group of Jean-Baptiste. He can come back into the group at any time," Lievremont told the UK Press Association.

Julien Bonnaire and Damien Chouly are the back-rowers to make way for Harinordoquy. Elsewhere, in-form Toulouse center Florian Fritz is included even though he has been struggling with a thigh problem.

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