France v Italy Live

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Saturday 6th February 14:25 GMT

 

Although the 6-Nations tournament's opening game, between France and Italy on Saturday at the Stade de France Stadium, is not one of the competitions more anticipated fixtures, there will be plenty to keep the neutrals interested. After a disappointing World Cup, in which they finished second to Ireland in their Pool, and were thrashed by the All Blacks in the quarter-finals, the French will be under a new coach for the Italy clash. The long-time Toulouse guru, Guy Noves takes charge of the national team, promising to restore the natural attacking game of Les Bleus.

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The Italian coach, Jacques Brunel, will leave his post at the end of the Six Nations, and will be keen to go out on a high. His charges were even more listless than the French in the World Cup, and indeed were beaten by France at Twickenham by 10-32 in a poor contest. Noves has certainly not been afraid to ring the changes in his squad. He has brought in the 7's specialist Virimi Vakatawa, a 23 year old winger who hasn't played a 15-a-side match since 2013.

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There is also a debut at scrum half for Sebastien Bezy, although this in part is due to the absence of Morgan Parra and Francois Trinh-Duc through injury. The other uncapped selections are at lock, where Paul Jedrasiak will win a first cap, and in the centre, with Jonathan Dantyare poised for a first appearance.

Posted: 9th February 2014

 

The fixture list couldn't have been unkind to the Italy team for this season's Six Nations championship, with away matches to Wales and France on successive weekends. While the Italian performance at the Millennium Stadium against Wales was full of effort, and in Sergio Parisse and Michele Campagnaro, the Azzurri had two of the game's outstanding players, they lacked true class in the wide channels, and that ultimately cost them the chance of creating a huge upset on the championship's opening weekend.

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Although Italy have won two of their last three games against France, both of those matches have been played on Italian soil, their only victory in France, coming back in 1997, when they won a famous victory in the final of the FIRA Championship, in Grenoble. The clash between French back row players Louis Picamoles  and Yannick Nyanga, and the icon of Italian rugby, Sergio Parisse will provide compelling viewing in itself, and may go some way to deciding the outcome of Sunday's game at the Stade de France.

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France will certainly hope to improve on last weekend's match against England, when they had to scrap and survive with a mere 41% of possession, and just 37% territory, as well as being out performed by the English in the areas of ball carries and meters gained.


Tags: France, Italy, Stade de France Stadium, Six Nations, Sebastien Bezy, Sergio Parisse, Michele Campagnaro, Louis Picamoles, Yannick Nyanga
Posted: 6th February 2016


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