Exclusive: France to play first ever home Six Nations game outside of Paris in Marseille in 2018

Ben Coles
The Stade Velodrome has traditionally been used for association football - Getty Images

France will host a home Six Nations fixture outside of Paris for the first time in their history next year when they move their match with Italy to Marseille.

The round three meeting scheduled to take place on February 23rd 2018 will be hosted at the Stade Velodrome stadium in Marseille, which was recently renovated for the Euro 2016 football tournament.

The venue, home to the city's football team Olympique Marseille, is now the second-largest stadium in France, after the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, with a capacity of over 67,000. 

Last year it hosted both Top 14 semi-finals on back-to-back days between La Rochelle and Toulon, before eventual winners Clermont defeated Racing 92.

Toulon will also play a regular season match at the same venue against Montpellier in April next year. 

France head coach Guy Noves on Wednesday also announced his squad for the upcoming November international fixtures, when France will face New Zealand on two occasions, in Paris at the Stade de France on November 11 and then at the Groupama Stadium in Lyon on November 14.

In total 31 players have been called up for the first fixture with the All Blacks and for the following Test matches against South Africa and Japan, with an additional 14 players named to participate in the mid-week match against New Zealand in Lyon.

Autumn Internationals 2017 | Fixtures, dates and kick-off times

Among the uncapped players in the initial 31-man selection is uncapped Toulon fly-half Anthony Belleau, who has been tipped to start for France in November. 

First-choice number 10 Camille Lopez fractured his leg playing against Northampton Saints last weekend.

In-form La Rochelle centre Geoffrey Doumayrou, who has impressed in the opening rounds of the Champion Cup, is another uncapped player selected by Noves.

Judicael Cancoriet, Raphael Chaume, Paul Gabrillagues, Antione Guillamon, Daniel Kotze, Felix Lambey, Marco Tauleigne and Gabriel Lacroix are the other new faces in Noves' initial 31-man squad.

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