Six Nations: England unchanged as Owen Farrell keeps place

Owen Farrell has retained his place at fly-half in an unchanged England starting XV for the Six Nations match against France in Paris on Sunday.

Charlie Hodgson, who started at 10 for the first two matches of the tournament but with a finger injury, is on the bench.

Second-row Tom Palmer is also among the replacements after

Lock Geoff Parling keeps his place after a strong debut two weeks ago.

Parling's Leicester team-mate Manu Tuilagi, who made his comeback from injury at Twickenham a fortnight ago, has another chance to build on a promising centre partnership with Brad Barritt.

Interim coach Stuart Lancaster explained his backline had taken their chance to impress in Hodgson's absence.

"It was a forced change going into the Wales game but it was a chance to seen Owen, Brad and Manu together and I felt they delivered," he said.

"They played well and there was no reason to change it really.

"[Scrum-half] Lee Dickson deserves to keep his spot for the tempo and what he brings.

"The back three got themselves into the game more and we think they will play a big part at the weekend, with France giving us plenty of ball in terms of kicking."

Lancaster will be interviewed by the Rugby Football Union

But the former Leeds and England Saxons boss insists that "all his energy" has been focused on securing victory away to France - a feat England have managed only twice in their last eight trips across the Channel.

"France away is a benchmark, going to the Stade de France is one of the biggest tests in world rugby," Lancaster added.

"The set-piece is massive challenge. We must make sure we go with a front foot mentality. We've done lots of scrums this week."

Lancaster's omission of Leicester's Toby Flood and Ben Youngs from the starting line-up has attracted criticism from the Tigers' hierarchy.

They formed the starting half-back partnership for all five of England's matches in last year's Six Nations, but Flood was while Youngs has fallen to second choice behind Dickson.

Leicester coach Matt O'Connor described the decision as with director of rugby Richard Cockerill claiming the duo should start if Lancaster aspires to a running game.external-link

Harlequins duo Joe Marler and Karl Dickson will travel to Paris as injury cover.

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre for the match in favour of former Leicester scrum-half Julien Dupuy and Lionel Beauxis.


England: Ben Foden; Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, David Strettle; Owen Farrell, Lee Dickson; Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole; Mouritz Botha, Geoff Parling; Tom Croft, Chris Robshaw (captain), Ben Morgan.

Replacements: Rob Webber, Matt Stevens, Tom Palmer, Phil Dowson, Ben Youngs, Charlie Hodgson, Mike Brown.

France: Clement Poitrenaud; Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Wesley Fofana, Julien Malzieu; Lionel Beauxis, Julien Dupuy; Jean-Baptiste Poux, Dimitri Szarzewski, Nicolas Mas, Pascal Pape, Yoann Maestri, Thierry Dusautoir (captain), Julien Bonnaire, Imanol Harinordoquy.

Replacements:William Servat, Vincent Debaty, Lionel Nallet, Louis Picamoles, Francois Trinh-Duc, Morgan Parra, Maxime Mermoz.