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France wield the axe after bad conduct on night out

By Duncan Bech

France have dropped a number of players for "inappropriate behaviour" after an incident on a night out following Sunday's defeat by Scotland in Edinburgh.

Head coach Jacques Brunel has acted after some players were questioned by Police Scotland in connection with a report of sexual assault, although it was subsequently established that no crime had been committed.

It is thought that Brunel permitted the players a night out in Edinburgh after the 32-26 loss but he has since taken a dim view of their conduct, resulting in a major squad cull when announcing an initial 31-man roster named in advance of Italy's visit to Paris.

Teddy Thomas, Remi Lamerat, Louis Picamoles, Anthony Belleau, Jonathan Danty, Arthur Iturria, Felix Lambey, Alexandre Lapandry and Sekou Macalou will miss the NatWest Six Nations appointment with the Azzurri on Friday week.

The French Rugby Federation (FFR) did not specify, in a statement to announce the squad, which players had been omitted for disciplinary reasons.

"Jacques decided to exclude from this list the players who went out after the defeat in Scotland," the FFR statement read.

"Through this inappropriate behaviour they did not respect their status as international players and the duties that come with that."

Francois Trinh-Duc, Mathieu Bastareaud and Gael Fickou are among the players chosen to plug the gaps, but the absence of electric winger Thomas is a major blow.

The 24-year-old has been one of the stars of the opening two rounds of the Six Nations, using his pace and footwork to score three tries, and the setback in Edinburgh - both on and off the field - has restored Les Bleus to what is now an all-too familiar state of chaos.

Police Scotland spoke to a number of potential witnesses at Edinburgh Airport on Monday morning, grounding the plane carrying the French squad while police inquiries were being carried out.

The chartered Jet2 flight to Paris was due to leave at around 11am but was stuck on the runway.

Reports had suggested police became involved after an incident in the Tigerlily bar on Edinburgh's George Street.

Events manager Jo McKinnell said the French players were in the bar on Sunday evening but claimed that there were no incidents.

• MUNSTER centre Sam Arnold believes that the experience of being involved in the Ireland training camp will be a stepping stone to international honours.

English-born Arnold gave a superb display and scored two tries for Munster in their 33-5 bonus-point Guinness PRO14 victory over Zebre at Thomond Park last Saturday.

The 21-year-old former Ulster back travelled with the Ireland squad to Spain for their warm-weather Six Nations training camp and he was also involved in their preparations for the French game.

"It was a really good experience. It was great to be up there and get a feel for the environment during a match week, the guys were unbelievable. They helped me out a lot up there," he said.

"It was good to have the older heads like Conor Murray, Peter (O'Mahony) and Earlsie (Keith Earls) around. If I had a question, they would be the first lads I would go to and ask.

"I had a good chat with Andy Farrell when I was there. I also spoke to Joe (Schmidt) and I think I know what he wants me to do going forward."

The centre will be hoping to add to the five tries he has scored in seven appearances for Munster this season when they take on Cardiff Blues on Saturday.

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