France's Sebastien Chabal omitted from World Cup squad

France have left number eight Sebastien Chabal out of their provisional 32-man squad for the World Cup in September.

The 33-year-old, who has 62 caps, was dropped from the team in March after their Six Nations defeat by Italy.

He was recently banned for two weeks for claiming referees are biased in France's domestic competition but coach Marc Lievremont said his exclusion is "purely for sporting reasons".

Yannick Jauzion, Clement Poitrenaud and Mathieu Bastareaud also missed out.

Lievremont has chosen Toulouse's Louis Picamoles and the uncapped Raphael Lakafia, of Biarritz, as number eight options alongside Imanol Harinordoquy ahead of Chabal, one of the most recognisable faces in rugby.

"It was not easy [to leave Chabal out] because Sebastien has always had an important role within the squad," Lievremont said. "But I've seen for a year a young number eight [Lakafia], who is extremely competitive and consistent, to the extent that he forced Imanol Harinordoquy to play on the flank of the back row [of Biarritz].

"A few months ago, Sebastien was part of the World Cup squad. But the rise of Lakafia and good performances from Picamoles pushed him out of the squad."

Jauzion's Test career also appears to be at an end after his exclusion from the squad.

"Because of his credentials, it was the topic of a heated debate," Lievremont added. "We preferred Maxime Mermoz and Fabrice Estebanez to him. I like what Fabrice does, especially his punch."

Mermoz, who was forced out of France's opening Six Nations match against Scotland with a dislocated shoulder, is one of five players included in the party who are currently recovering from injury.

Centre Aurelien Rougerie (ankle), props Thomas Domingo (knee) and Fabien Barcella (Achilles tendon), and hooker Dimitri Szarzewski (Achilles tendon) are all hopeful of regaining full fitness in time for the start of the tournament.

"We hope to see them back in training and be competitive on 10 September," added Lievremont, alluding to France's opening World Cup match against Japan.

France will play two warm-up Tests against Ireland on 13 and 20 August, after which they will finalise their World Cup squad of 30.

France's provisional 32-man squad for the World Cup:

Forwards:

Props: Thomas Domingo, Luc Ducalcon, Sylvain Marconnet, Nicolas Mas, Jean-Baptiste Poux; Hookers: Guilhem Guirado, William Servat, Dimitri Szarzewski; Locks: Romain Millo-Chluski, Lionel Nallet, Pascal Pape, Julien Pierre; Back-rows: Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir (captain), Imanol Harinordoquy, Raphael Lakafia, Fulgence Ouedraogo, Louis Picamoles.

Backs:

Back three: Vincent Clerc, Cedric Heymans, Yoann Huget, Maxime Medard, Alexis Palisson; Centres: Fabrice Estebanez, David Marty, Maxime Mermoz, Aurelien Rougerie, Damien Traille; Fly-halves: David Skrela, Francois Trinh-Duc; Scrum-halves: Morgan Parra, Dimitri Yachvili.