Mathieu Bastareaud is the most notable omission from France's Rugby World Cup squad ( AFP/Getty )
Mathieu Bastareaud has been left out of France’s extraordinarily early Rugby World Cup squad, three months after featuring as vice-captain of Jacques Brunel’s squad.
The 31-man squad, plus six reserves, were named by Brunel and new assistant coach Fabien Galthie, who will become head coach at the end of the year, despite the World Cup remaining more than three months away.
Brunel did confirm that the six additional names will be given the chance to win their place in his final squad if the original 31 fail to maintain their form, while the three Rugby World Cup warm-up matches against Italy and a double-header with Scotland could lead to injured players needing replacing.
Bastareaud – who will join American Major League Rugby side Rugby United New York – sees his place go to Toulouse centre Sofiane Guitoune, who Brunel admitted had caught his eye throughout the season as the club powered to their first Top 14 title in seven years.
"We have followed (Sofiane) Guitoune all year," Brunel said in a press conference on Tuesday. "He performed very well.
"We did not know if he would maintain his form, but he did it all year long.
"The group is rejuvenated with many players who are 25 years and under, but there are still players with experience with (Yoann) Huget, (Wesley) Fofana and (Maxime) Medard."
Brunel has also included three uncapped players in his squad in Clermont Auvergne wing Alivereti Raka, Toulouse hooker Peato Mauvaka and Toulon prop Emerick Setiano, but there is no space for Racing 92 wing Teddy Thomas, veteran Clermont scrum-half Morgan Parra or towering La Rochelle prop Uini Atonio.
Thomas has not been selected since being dropped by Brunel following a night out during the 2018 Six Nations in Edinburgh, despite his electric form for his club in the Top 14 and the Heineken Champions Cup.
Two Toulon players are included among the reserves in the form of fly-half Anthony Belleau and flanker Charles Ollivon, with Brunel electing to go with only two fly-halves in current first-choice Romain Ntamack – who plays at centre four Toulose – and Camille Lopez, with scrum-half Anthony Dupont able to provide cover at No 10.
France are in the same World Cup pool as England, Argentina, the United States and Tonga. Their opening game is against Argentina in Tokyo on September 21.
Squad: G Alldritt (La Rochelle), D Bamba (Brive), Y Camara (Montpellier), C Chat (Racing 92), G Doumayrou (La Rochelle), A Dupont (Toulouse), G Fickou (Stade Francais), W Fofana (Clermont Auvergne), P Gabrillagues (Stade Francais), G Guirado (Toulon), S Guitoune (Toulouse), Y Huget (Toulouse), A Uturria (Clermont Auvergne), F Lambey (Lyon), W Lauret (Racing 92), B Le Roux (Racing 92), C Lopez (Clermont Auvergne), M Machenaud (Racing 92), P Mauvaka (Toulouse), M Medard (Toulouse), R Ntamack (Toulouse), D Penaud (Clermont Auvergne), L Picamoles (Montpellier), J Poirot (Bordeax-Begles), D Priso (La Rochelle), A Raka (Clermont Auvergne), T Ramos (Toulouse), B Serin (Bordeaux-Begles), E Setiano (Toulon), R Slimani (Clermont Auvergne), S Vahaamahina (Clermont Auvergne).
Reserves: A Belleau (Toulon), F Cros (Toulouse), E Falgoux (Clermont Auvergne), C Ollivon (Toulon), V Rattez (La Rochelle), P Willemse (Montpellier).