It looks very much like Marc "Mad as a Box of Snakes" Lièvremont has gone from a selection policy that I've previously described as "gloriously bonkers" to one which is seriously mental.
At first I believed that the introduction of fresh talent to the French squad post-Rugby World Cup was a good move. In many ways I still do and, in Morgan Parra and the number eight Picamole for instance, it looks as if France have unearthed a couple of decent players for the future. However, in making a further 8 changes to his squad following defeat to England, including bringing in another 5 brand new faces and dropping some of his better performers, I fear that the French coach has now lost the plot.
Lièvremont justifies all this by saying that he wants to "open up the squad, to see new players," and many might claim that all he is doing is building squad depth, but just chucking potential players en masse into international rugby for a game or two does no such thing. The players that he's left out include Morgan Parra (arguably France's most effective player against England) Thierry Dusutoir (top tackler at the weekend for France), Julian Bonnaire (who dominated the lineout) and Cedric Heymans (France's best strike runner). The return of Yannick Jauzion is a plus point for France, that of Harry Ordinary less so, but how, by removing the better players from the squad, is this going to help the new players coming in?
It's possible that Lièvremont's attitude is coloured by the fact that it's "only Italy" up next - but by throwing in rookie forwards against the Italian pack France just might get seriously found out.
We all thought Bernie Laporte was mad, but this Lièvremont fella is now beginning to look like a proper mentalist!