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Galthie bloods three new caps for World Cup warm-up with Scots

Fabien Galthie named three new caps in his France team to play Scotland in the 2023 Rugby World Cup hosts’ starting XV for Saturday’s warm-up match at Murrayfield.

Wing Louis Bielle-Biarrey, centre Emilien Gailleton and backrow forward Paul Boudehent get their chance to force their way into the final squad for the sport’s quadrennial showpiece which runs from September 8 to October 28.

Galthie will bid to achieve something none of his predecessors have managed and be crowned world champions. The French have been losing finalists three times — in 1987, 1999 and 2011.

Veteran full-back Brice Dulin will skipper the side, winning his 37th cap but first since March 2021, after a superb season for European champions La Rochelle.

“What an honour, what a happy moment for Brice Dulin!” purred France manager and former captain Raphael Ibanez.

“This is not by chance, he is a totally legitimate choice.

“And it is all down to him, his perseverance, to his determination.

“He was a natural choice for us… he is the leader in his club, of the spine of the team that were crowned European champions.”

Galthie has left on the sidelines several stalwarts of the team such as regular captain scrum-half Antoine Dupont and his half-back partner, fly-half Romain Ntamack.

Bielle-Biarrey and Gailleton, both 20, and 23-year-old Boudehent slot into places normally filled by Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou and Charles Ollivon.

“Twenty years old is very young, they are without doubt among the youngest players ever capped,” said Galthie.

“But there are no question marks hanging over them: Louis and Emilien followed a normal route to this stage, Paul’s was a little different as he came via the sevens team.

“French rugby can be proud to have produced players with such potential.

“It is down to us now to help them develop.”

Only wing Ethan Dumortier remains in the starting XV of the one that thrashed Wales 41-28 in the final match of this year’s Six Nations in March.

For 33-year-old Dulin and fly-half Mathieu Jalibert it represents a chance to give Galthie selection headaches ahead of naming his final 33-man squad on August 21.

Dulin is way above the average age of the starting line-up which is 25 and a half. Only he, props Jean-Baptiste Gros and Demba Bamba, as well as Jalibert have over 20 caps.

France have three further warm-up matches after Saturday’s clash. They play Scotland again on August 12 at Saint-Etienne, Fiji a week later in Nantes and wrap it up with Australia on August 27 at the Stade de France.

Galthie’s side begin their World Cup campaign with a mouth-watering meeting with New Zealand on September 8, followed by less taxing games against Italy, Uruguay and Namibia.