Source: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The Autumn Programme fights for Survival

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France announce a Squad

France have picked a large squad of 32 to complete their four autumn campaign. They have two Six Nations matches left over, plus the eagerly awaited double header with England.

Annick Hayraud (Photo: INPHO)

Annick Hayraud has announced these names:

ABADIE Audrey (Blagnac)
AIT LAHBIB Rkya (Montpellier RC)
ARRICASTRE Lise (Lons Rugby Féminin Béarn Pyrénées)
BANET Cyrielle (Montpellier RC)
BERNADOU Rose (Montpellier RC)
BERTHOUMIEU Axelle (Blagnac)
BERTRAND Coralie (RC Chilly Mazarin)
BOUDAUD Camille (Stade Toulousain)
BOUJARD Caroline (Montpellier RC)
BOURDON Pauline (AS Bayonnaise)
CORSON Lénaïg (Stade Français)
DESHAYES Annaëlle (Lyon OR)
DIALLO Coumba (Stade Français)
FERER Céline (Stade Toulousain)
FILOPON Maëlle (Stade Toulousain)
GROS Émeline (Montpellier RC)
HERMET Gaëlle (Stade Toulousain)
JOYEUX Clara (Blagnac)
MAYANS Marjorie (Blagnac)
MENAGER Marine (Montpellier RC)
N’DIAYE Safi (Montpellier RC)
PEYRONNET Morgane (Montpellier RC)
PIGNOT Élise (ASM Romagnat RF)
RIVOALEN Yanna (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois)
SANSUS Laure (Stade Toulousain)
SOCHAT Agathe (Montpellier RC)
THOMAS Caroline (ASM Romagnat RF)
TOUYE Laure (Montpellier RC)
TRAORE Dhia Maïlys (Stade Toulousain)
TREMOULIERE Jessy (ASM Romagnat RF)
ULUTULE Jade (Stade Rennais)
VERNIER Gabrielle (Blagnac)

Of course they were massively disappointed to miss out on a first-ever tour to New Zealand, but must make do and mend. This looks a very tidy group, well capable of winning their remaining 6N contests against Scotland (A) and Ireland (H). In theory they could take the title, but that requires Italy to achieve a first-ever win against the Red Roses. You never know.

Hayraud hints that there is still the possibility of adding some Sevens stars to the group; that would be fascinating. It would be even more fascinating if Simon Middleton came to the same decision, but it seems highly unlikely.

If the World Cup had already been pushed back to a later date, then it would have made the change of direction far more probable. A sizeable gap would reopen between the Tokyo Olympics and the World Cup, allowing the talented short-format players to adjust to the mother-game.

For both nations the question of contracts looms large. The two managements want their choices to stick for a year at least. There is no point in paying a player a fixed wage if she is unlikely to feature regularly.

And since money is in such short supply, it wouldn’t be easy to omit a player contracted for two or three years in favour of a 7s player jumping on the bandwagon at the last minute.

It’s hard to read the future – short-term and longer – with any certainty. All European nations are feeling the effects of a second spike in the pestilence. Belgium for example has called off all its rugby till 8 November at the earliest. The UK has added Italy to its list of countries from where self-isolation is now required. The Azzurre are due in Dublin on the 24th. Let’s hope they can slip past that net.

All we can do is trust that the busy autumn programme can take place. It’s been a long wait.

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