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France gamble on Baby for visit of Wales

  • Story Highlights
  • France turn to Benoit Baby to form untried half-back pairing with Morgan Parra
  • Baby switches to No.10 after an injury to Lionel Beauxis ahead of Wales clash
  • England replace Andy Goode at fly-half with Toby Flood for the trip to Ireland
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(CNN) -- France are gambling on Benoit Baby at fly-half for their crunch Six Nations clash with Wales in Paris on Friday night.

Baby switches from center to fly-half for the visit of Wales to the Stade de France.

Baby switches from center to fly-half for the visit of Wales to the Stade de France.

Coach Marc Lievrement has been forced to pair regular outside center Baby with Morgan Parra in an untried half-back partnership and will go into the Stade de France encounter without a specialist kicker.

Baby is selected ahead of Francois Trinh-Duc, who was only called up on Monday as a replacement for the injured Lionel Beauxis and will be on the bench against Six Nations champions Wales.

With Baby moved to number 10, Stade de France star Mathieu Bastareaud will make his debut at center alongside Yannick Jauzion.

Parra had already been drafted in for Sebastien Tillous-Borde in a much-changed back line which also sees Maxime Medard reverts to full-back in place of Toulouse team-mate Clement Poitrenaud, while Julien Malzieu comes in on the wing.

Parra will take over the kicking duties, having previously taken the role against England last year where he was successful with his only attempt. Up front, Sylvain Marconnet returns at prop to make a record-equaling 72nd appearance in that position for France.

Sebastien Chabal returns in place of Romain Millo-Chluski in one of five changes from the team which started the 22-13 win over Scotland.

France began their Six Nations campaign with a thrilling 30-21 defeat to Ireland in Dublin and need victory over in-form Wales to re-ignite their title chances.

Lievrement is putting a brave face on his enforced change behind the scrum.

"Events therefore dictate our choice," he told the Press Association. "We know it's not ideal -- we need our best team against Wales. Francois only arrived on Monday.

"We think he (Baby) has all the qualities to play in that position even if he rarely plays there for his club. We have confidence in Benoit Baby."

England have made one change to their starting XV for their match against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

Toby Flood returns at fly-half to replace Andy Goode, who drops to the bench after starting the 231-5 defeat to Wales in Cardiff.

Meanwhile, former England and British Lions hooker Mark Regan has announced he will retire at the end of the season.

The 37-year-old, who plays for bottom club Bristol in the Premiership, was a member of England's World Cup squads in 2003 and 2007 and is set to turn to coaching at the end of his playing career.

He earned 46 caps for England.

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