18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
The 25-year-old Servat, replacing the retired Raphael Ibanez, and Pape, 23, are just two of six changes from the starting line-up which played against England in the World Cup semi-final in Sydney last November.
Jean-Baptiste Elissalde returns to the international fold and takes over from the retired Fabien Galthie at scrum-half.
He will form a halfback partnership with Toulouse team-mate Frederic Michalak, who made his breakthrough at No 10 during the World Cup, before ending with a disappointing performance against England.
France manager Jo Maso said it was a good mix of older players with some younger ones as they seek to rebuild towards the 2007 World Cup.
"It's an interesting mix but it is a team selected to win," said the former star French back. "The return of Elissalde at scrum-half is merited and Pape and Servat have been excelling at club level. It is a good mix of young and old."
Maso admitted, however, that there had been a lot of debate throughout the positions as to who should fill them apart from the backrow trio where Imanol Harinordoquy has been appointed vice-captain to Fabien Pelous.
Elissalde, 26 and winning his fifth cap but first since the Six Nations match with Wales last year, was preferred to Galthie's understudy at the World Cup Dimitri Yachvili.
"Elissalde has been outstanding this season, but we haven't selected him ahead of Dimitri because he is a better player. There was Fabien and then there were the rest and we are just trying somebody who is in great form," said Laporte.
Another who failed to make the World Cup, Vincent Clerc, regained his place on the wing ahead of Pepito Elhorga while veteran Christophe Dominici retained his place despite his moment of madness in the semi-final against England when he tripped Jason Robinson and spent the rest of the match on the sidelines.
"We wanted to see how Clerc had absorbed his being left out of the World Cup squad and so far the results are good," Maso commented.
Laporte said that 31-year-old Dominici's inclusion - he wins his 36th cap - was because he was still the best in his position.
"The younger players are not up to the level required at the moment and that is why Dominici is in," said the 39-year-old.
Dominici's Stade Francais team-mate Pieter de Villiers also returns after the South African-born prop missed the World Cup after injuring himself when he fell off his bike.
However another South African-born Stade Francais player Brian Liebenberg lost out on the centre spot where Damien Traille, who was third choice at the World Cup, will partner Yannick Jauzion as the other first choice from that campaign Tony Marsh is injured.
"Brian has still to step up another level so that is why we decided to recall Damien," said Laporte.
Laporte denied that by selecting 27-year-old prop Sylvain Marconnet over 34-year-old veteran Jean-Jacques Crenca he was already looking towards the World Cup as the latter has already confirmed he will not be available in three years time.
"Marconnet over Crenca is not because Marconnet can make it to the next World Cup but who is playing better."
France; Nicolas Brusque (Biarritz); Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), Damien Traille (Pau), Christophe Dominici (Stade Francais); Frederic Michalak (Toulouse), Jean-Baptiste Elissalde (Toulouse); Imanol Harinordoquy (Pau), Olivier Magne (Montferrand), Serge Betsen (Biarritz), Pascal Pape (Bourgoin), Fabien Pelous (Toulouse, capt), Pieter De Villiers (Stade Francais), William Servat (Toulouse), Sylvain Marconnet (Stade Francais) Replacements: Yannick Bru (Toulouse), Jean-Jacques Crenca (Agen), David Auradou (Stade Francais), Thomas Lievremont (Biarritz), Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz), Brian Liebenberg (Stade Francais), Pepito Elhorga (Agen)
Paul O'Connell will play in his 16th test match as captain of Ireland in the opening RBS Six Nations championship game against France in Paris on Saturday next.
The 24 year old Munster and Young Munster second row, first capped against Wales in 2002, leads the team in the absence of injured Brian O'Driscoll, the designated 2004 Six Nations Ireland captain, who has a hamstring injury.
O'Driscoll is replaced at outside centre by 23 year old Gordon Darcy, who is selected in the Six Nations for the first time. His previous five caps were earned as replacements. O'Driscoll has been replaced in the 22-man squad by Anthony Horgan.
Ireland's match in Paris will mark the 60th appearance by second row Malcolm O'Kelly, first capped in November 1997 against New Zealand. He becomes the fifth player in Irish rugby history to reach the 60 caps milestone, behind Mike Gibson (69), Willie John McBride (63), Fergus Slattery (61) and David Humphreys, who is a replacement against France, and who currently has 60 caps.
Other notable landmarks being achieved in Paris are the 40th international appearance for prop John Hayes; 25th caps for hooker Shane Byrne and winger Shane Horgan and a 20th appearance for open side flanker Keith Gleeson.
15 - Girvan Dempsey (Leinster - Terenure College) 14 - Shane Horgan (Leinster - Lansdowne) 13 - Gordon Darcy (Leinster - Lansdowne) 12 - Kevin Maggs (Bath) 11 - Tyrone Howe (Ulster - Dungannon) 10 - Ronan O'Gara (Munster - Cork Constitution) 9 - Peter Stringer (Munster - Shannon) 1 - Reggie Corrigan (Leinster - Greystones) 2 - Shane Byrne (Leinster - Blackrock College) 3 - John Hayes (Munster - Shannon) 4 - Malcolm O'Kelly (Leinster - St. Mary's College) 5 - Paul O'Connell (Munster - Young Munster) Captain 6 - Simon Easterby (Llanelli) 7 - Keith Gleeson (Leinster - St. Mary's College) 8 - Anthony Foley (Munster - Shannon)
Replacements: 16 - Frank Sheahan (Munster - Cork Constitution), 17 - Simon Best (Ulster - Belfast Harlequins), 18 - Donncha O'Callaghan (Munster - Cork Constitution), 19 - Victor Costello (Leinster - St. Mary's College), 20 - Guy Easterby (Rotherham), 21 - David Humphreys (Ulster - Dungannon), 22 - Anthony Horgan (Munster - Cork Constitution).
Not considered due to injury: Denis Hickie (Leinster - St. Mary's College), Marcus Horan (Munster - Shannon), Eric Miller (Leinster - Terenure College), Geordan Murphy (Leicester), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster - Blackrock College), Alan Quinlan (Munster - Shannon).