France scrum-half Morgan Parra has been ruled out of next week’s Six Nations clash against Scotland at Murrayfield after the French League (LNR) suspended him for two games following a red card in a Top 14 match.
Parra, who has 54 caps but has not featured in the Six Nations this year, was included in France’s 30-man squad and expected to return at Murrayfield after first choice Jean-Marc Doussain’s poor performance in Friday’s 27-6 defeat in Wales.
“Morgan Parra is suspended for two consecutive matches on the grounds of ‘excitability’,” the LNR said in a statement.
He will serve the first match tomorrow when his club side, Clermont Auvergne, visit Bordeaux-Begles in the French league and the second the following weekend when France travel to Edinburgh.
The scrum-half’s absence is another blow for France, who have suffered a string of injuries with flanker Yannick Nyanga and centre Wesley Fofana the latest to be sidelined. France are tied on four points in the standings with holders Wales, England and Ireland after three matches. Scotland have two points after Saturday’s 21-20 win over bottom team Italy.
Meanwhile, Jonny Sexton could miss the rest of the Six Nations due to a thumb ligament injury. The Ireland stand-off’s French club, Racing Metro, confirmed that the 28-year-old will miss between 10 days and six weeks with the thumb problem he suffered in last weekend’s 13-10 Six Nations defeat to England.
Ireland host Italy in Dublin on Saturday, 8 March before closing their Six Nations campaign with a trip to France a week later. “Jonny Sexton returned from Twickenham with a thumb ligament injury, and will be unavailable between 10 days and six weeks,” said Racing Metro coach Laurent Labit, according to the club’s Twitter account.
Sexton left Twickenham on Saturday with his hand in a splint, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt had revealed on Monday. Schmidt and Ireland’s medical staff had remained hopeful the former Leinster No 10 would battle through his injury in time to line up against Italy in Ireland’s penultimate Six Nations clash. But now it looks as though his chances of aiding his country’s push for the Six Nations title are slim at best.
Sexton returned to France after Ireland’s slender defeat to England, with Racing expecting him to face Castres in Top 14 league action this weekend. His Paris club have ruled him out of action, however, and cast his Six Nations into doubt in the process.
Ireland boss Schmidt admitted on Monday he may have looked to rest Sexton against Italy even if he found fitness, in order to keep squad players sharp. Now the Ireland boss is likely to turn to Ulster’s Paddy Jackson to lead the backline against the Azzurri, with Leinster’s Ian Madigan the potential understudy.
Ireland’s defeat to England on Saturday leaves the Six Nations title race locked in a four-way tussle. England, Wales and France can all still claim the crown, with Ireland also eyeing glory should they see off Italy and the French in Paris on the final weekend. Ireland boss Schmidt rates England as favourites for the title, though, despite the four contenders all having lost one clash in three rounds. “I think England are going to be the toughest team to beat without a doubt,” said Schmidt, warning Ireland to be extremely wary of Italy’s threat.
“One of the problems for us is making sure that Italy is our full focus and that it stays that way over the next few days and next week. They have a very experienced, very powerful front-row and with Sergio Parisse at No 8 he’s one of the world’s best anchoring that set-piece.”