Chabal omitted from French team


PARIS, France, May 11- Sebastien Chabal has been left out of the 32-strong French squad to take part in the World Cup in New Zealand from September 9 to October 23.

Capped 62 times for his country, Chabal is hugely popular with the fans in France and has long been seen as a driving force in the French pack.

But his recent performances for the national side have been poor and coach Marc Lievremont has decided to leave him at home, calling up instead uncapped Raphael Lakafia of Biarritz.

Also left out of the squad were veteran centre Yannick Jauzion and full-back Clement Poitrenaud.

Lievremont had until the August 22 deadline to announce his squad, but opted to unveil his choices earlier although he will need to prune two players at a later date to reach the maximum allowed number of 30 players.

Injury doubts surround props Thomas Domingo (knee), and Fabien Barcella (achilles tendon) as well as winger/centre Aurelien Rougerie who had an operation on a dislocated ankle this week.

Toulouse flanker Thierry Dusautoir has been retained as captain and there is a call-up for his team-mate and fellow back-row player Louis Picamoles who has been out of favour over the last 15 months.

Lievremont, who has been under heavy criticism since France lost to Italy for the first time in the Six Nations tournament in March, said he had taken the decision not to include Chabal in his squad purely on sporting grounds.

The former Sale powerhouse has found himself in hot water recently after he questioned the ability of first class referees in France and he is due to go before a disciplinary commission with a possible suspension to follow.

"We judged him on how he has played in the last three years. In the last six months we have seen a typical Sebastien, who is capable of scoring tries from 80 metres out," said Lievremont.

"But also over the last year I have seen a young number eight by the name of Lakafia who is very impressive to the extent that they (Biarritz) moved over Imanol Harinordoquy in the back row to make way for him.

"And then Louis Picamoles and his potential as we saw against Leinster in the semi-final of the European Cup.

"Just a few months ago I saw him (Chabal) in the World Cup squad. Maybe it was unfair on him to include him in the Six Nations squads when he was not in his best form.

"It’s not easy because he is an important player within the group well outwith his public and media image, which to me do not matter."

The France squad announced on Wednesday to take part in the World Cup to be held in New Zealand from September 9 to October 23:-

(18): Fabien Barcella (Biarritz), Thomas Domingo (Clermont), Jean-Baptiste Poux (Toulouse), William Servat (Toulouse), Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Français), Luc Ducalcon (Castres), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Sylvain Marconnet (Biarritz), Pascal Papé (Stade Français), Julien Pierre (Clermont), Romain Millo-Chluski (Toulouse), Lionel Nallet (Racing-Métro), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse, capt), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Raphaël Lakafia (Biarritz), Louis Picamoles (Toulouse)

Backs (14): Morgan Parra (Clermont), Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz), David Skrela (Toulouse), François Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Fabrice Estebanez (Brive), Maxime Mermoz (Perpignan), David Marty (Perpignan), Aurélien Rougerie (Clermont), Maxime Médard (Toulouse), Alexis Palisson (Brive), Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), Yoann Huget (Bayonne), Cédric Heymans (Toulouse), Damien Traille (Biarritz)