Click here for photos from the France squad training session at Le Centre National de Rugby in Marcoussis near Paris on Thursday.
Pictured above: French flanker Yannick Nyanga is lifted high during lineout practice at Le Centre National du Rugby. The 22-year-old Nyanga, who was born in Zaire, started last March’s 26-19 victory for France over Ireland at Lansdowne Road. His parents moved to Languedoc when he was just a year-old. Nyanga, who grew up in Agde, near Beziers, signed for Toulouse last summer and has Serge Betsen, one of the great Test flankers of the professional era, as a mentor within the national set-up.
Nyanga said recently in an interview with The Times of London: “I like him (Betsen) because he caused a little revolution in French rugby on the flank position, because he’s a very good tackler. All the countries have a small powerful flanker, like Neil Back or George Smith.
“In France, we did not have someone like that, then Serge came. First of all, Bernard Laporte (the France coach) said he gives away too many penalties, but he worked a lot and showed that if you work very hard, you can do it.”
France’s starting props for Saturday, Pieter De Villiers and Olivier Milloud, go through some stretches in Marcoussis. Bourgoin’s Milloud takes over from the benched Sylvain Marconnet on the loosehead side of the French scrum.
Experienced Wasps hooker Raphael Ibanez talks to the press after training. The former French captain, who turns 33 next week, has been brought back into Bernard Laporte’s side – ahead of Dimitri Szarzewski – for the tussle with Ireland. Ibanez scored one of his 6 Test tries against Ireland at the Stade de France in 1998. The score proved crucial as Les Bleus hung on for an 18-16 win.
Yannick Nyanga catches a lineout throw from Ibanez in Marcoussis.
Raphael Ibanez, whose “leadership qualities” were one of the main reasons why coach Bernard Laporte decided to start the Dax-born hooker ahead of Dimitri Szarzewski and the benched Sebastien Bruno.
French flanker Olivier Magne, who now plys his trade in England with London irish, catches a lineout ball at training. The 32-year-old has replaced Remy Martin in the French side for the clash with Ireland. Saturday will mark Magne’s 84th cap for his country and only his fourth Test start since November 2004.
**All photos by Billy Stickland of Inpho Photography**