France vs Italy Prediction and Preview

France vs Italy Prediction and Preview

We look ahead to Sunday’s 2024 Guinness Men’s Six Nations match in Lille with our France vs Italy prediction and preview.

It seems an eternity ago that France thumped Italy to complete a perfect pool stage at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. That 60-7 victory was France’s biggest-ever win against Italy, but the hosts’ party was quickly spoiled by eventual champions South Africa in the quarter-finals.

France’s stranglehold over Italy in the Guinness Men’s Six Nations specifically is only blemished by defeats in 2011 and 2013, and they’ve never lost at home against the Azzurri in the Championship.

Les Bleus lost their opener against Ireland and followed that with a scrappy win away in Scotland. They’ve not lost consecutive games on their own patch in the Six Nations in over 10 years (2012-13 vs England and Wales) and Italy will need to raise their game if they are to threaten that.

The Azzurri put up a valiant fight against England in Round 1 but fell away against a powerful Irish side, who are seemingly bulldozing their way to back-to-back Grand Slams. France definitely seem destabilised but an 11th consecutive victory in the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy could be just what they need to regroup.


France’s raison d’être in recent seasons has been their joie de vivre or, to stop with the French puns, they’ve relished their capacity to entertain. In 2024, they’ve lacked that cutting edge, but their grunt work up front has been as reliable as ever.

Fabien Galthié’s men have managed the best tackle completion rate (89%) of any side in the 2024 Championship and are also the only side to have a 100% scrum success rate still. Les Bleus have also gained the most maul metres (36) and have averaged the most metres gained per maul (3.6m).

Having been shut out by Ireland in the last round, Italy will have to hope France’s standards in defence drop to allow them a sniff of the try line this weekend.

Italy have tried their best to use their dangermen out wide this year, maybe due to a lack of ball-carrying options in the forwards. 52% of their play has seen them move the ball 10+ metres laterally from the previous ruck, the highest rate of any side in the 2024 Championship. This has resulted in them being able to evade 22% of the tackles they’ve faced this year, the second best rate of any team behind England (24%), and if they can improve their efficiency in the opposition 22, they should start causing problems.


Just 4.5% of Italy’s carries so far in this campaign have been ‘pick and go’ carries, the lowest rate of any side, with France’s rate more than double that (11%, third highest). Now, this isn’t a weakness in itself, but what it does do is shuffle the pressure along the line to the midfield and beyond.

In fact, just under 30% of the Azzurri’s carries have been ‘one-out’ carries, not a particularly high figure (only England and Ireland have lower rates) with only 4% of their metres gained coming from this type of carry (the lowest of any team), compounding that pressure even more.

It comes as no surprise then to see Italy are the only side in the 2024 Six Nations whose forwards are making fewer than 50% (46%) of their side’s carries.

Conversely, France have opted to use ‘pick and go’ and ‘one-out’ carries more frequently and a Championship-high 14% of their metres gained have come from ‘one-out’ carries while they boast the highest ratio of carries by forwards (58%), providing an interesting clash of styles.

France have employed an almost remarkable amount of their efforts on the ‘blind side’, with a Championship-high 22% of their play sneaking down the narrow option. Ireland rank second for this, but are a vast 10 percentage points behind on 12%.

Is this propensity to change direction and target the alternative option limiting their capacity to break free and unleash their dangerous backs?

They have the second fastest average ruck speed (3.5s) after two rounds of action, which is a promising foundation to build on, but maybe trusting in a more traditional build-up approach could help them unlock the Italian defence.


Standout Players

This fixture boasts some of the busiest tacklers in this year’s Championship, with Italian skipper Michele Lamaro leading the way with 37 tackles across his opening two games. His teammates Gianmarco Lucchesi and Niccolo Cannone are also two of a further five players to make more than 25 tackles this year, along with Les Bleus’ Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon and the injured Gregory Alldritt.

Alldritt will be a big loss to France. Despite their slow start, the Stade Rochelais man has been his typical imperious self. The all-action No. 8 is the only forward with a carry dominance rate over 50% in this year’s Championship (52%, 10+ carries) and one of just two players to have gained 50+ metres in contact (51, also Caelan Doris), showcasing his impact in both attack and defence in this year’s Championship.

Posolo Tuilagi could well take on some of the carrying duties for France, particularly in the tight. In the league this season, the 19-year-old committed 3+ tacklers from 22.2% of his carries – of the 84 forwards to make 50+ carries in the TOP 14, only Tevita Tatafu boasts a (fractionally) higher rate (22.6%). If Tuilagi can hit similar numbers in a blue shirt as he does in the red and yellow of Perpignan, then he could create plenty of room for France’s dangerous backline who often need only an inch.

Monty Ioane could be key to unlocking Italy’s full attacking potential as showcased by his stunning solo try against England on the opening weekend. Ioane has beaten nine defenders in this year’s Championship, the joint-most of any player (also Kyle Rowe) and is the only Azzurri player to have gained 100+ metres (116). Ioane has gained 90+ metres in two of his previous three Tests against the French, including 101 when the two sides met in Lyon during last year’s World Cup.

France vs Italy Prediction

Even if they aren’t playing in their usual Stade de France home in Paris, France are still heavy favourites according to the Opta supercomputer ahead of kick-off.

France vs Italy Lineups

France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Maxime Lucu, 1 Cyril Baille, 2 Peato Mauvaka, 3 Uini Atonio, 4 Cameron Woki, 5 Posolo Tuilagi, 6 Paul Boudehent, 7 Charles Ollivon, 8 Francois Cros

Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Sebastien Taofifenua, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Alexandre Roumat, 21 Esteban Abadie, 22 Nolann Le Garrec, 23 Yoram Moefana

Italy head coach Gonzalo Quesada has made six changes to his Italy starting XV to face France in the Six Nations.

Italy: 15 Ange Capuozzo, 14 Tommaso Menoncello, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Federico Mori, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Martin Page-Relo, 1 Danilo Fischetti, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 3 Giosue Zilocchi, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 5 Federico Ruzza, 6 Riccardo Favretto, 7 Michele Lamaro, 8 Ross Vintcent

Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Simone Ferrari, 19 Matteo Canali, 20 Andrea Zambonin, 21 Manuel Zuliani, 22 Stephen Varney, 23 Leonardo Marin

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