Autumn Nations Cup: Hope for Scotland as France pick shadow side to play Italy

France have made 13 changes to their starting XV for this weekend’s Autumn Nations Cup clash with Italy in Paris.

Matthieu Jalibert is one of only two France players from the starting XV against Scotland to retain his place in the side to face Italy. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Scotland are relying on the Italians pulling off a shock result if they are to have a chance of winning Group B and reaching the Autumn Nations Cup final.

France beat the Scots 22-15 at BT Murrayfield on Sunday and need to win or draw against Italy in the final pool match at the Stade de France on Saturday evening.

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The French rugby federation has an agreement with its clubs that says players will only play in three international matches over the autumn.

With that in mind, coach Fabien Galthie has made wholesale changes, with only winger Teddy Thomas and stand-off Matthieu Jalibert surviving from the starting side which beat Scotland.

There are five uncapped players in the France XV: Rodrigue Neti, Killian Geraci, Baptiste Pesenti, Jean-Pascal Barraque and Gabin Villière.

Scotland currently top Group B after being awarded a 28-0 win over Fiji when their match against the Islanders was called off due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the Fijian squad.

Italy and France have also been awarded 28-0 victories over Fiji.

Gregor Townsend’s side have completed their group fixtures and are on 11 points. France are two points behind, with the game against Italy to come. The Italians sit on five points.

Scotland can only win the group if Italy beat France.

A final round of classification matches takes place on the weekend of December 5-6, with the teams playing against the side from the other group which finished in the corresponding position (ie first v first, second v second etc).

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