PREVIEW: Italy vs France

PREVIEW: Italy vs France

Two of the northern hemisphere's in-form teams will collide when France play Italy at Stadio Olimpico to bring the opening weekend of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations to a close. 

Les Bleus won every game they played in 2022, scooping the Grand Slam in the Guinness Six Nations, while Italy have only lost twice in their last seven official outings.

The Azzurri ended a seven-year wait for a Six Nations win with a 22-21 win in Cardiff last year, but they also fell to a 37-10 defeat against Fabien Galthié's side on their way to finishing sixth overall.

However, with Kieran Crowley's team flying high, there is no telling what they can achieve when they host France on Sunday.


Italy have called on experienced fly-half Tommaso Allan to fill Paolo Garbisi's boots on Sunday.

The inspiration Montpellier star will miss the opening three rounds of Rugby's Greatest Championship due to injury, meaning Allan will partner Stephen Varney in the half-back roles at Stadio Olimpico.

Juan Ignacio Brex and Luca Morisi will hope to shine in the centres alongside inspirational young star Ange Capuozzo who is named at full-back. Pierre Bruno and Tommaso Menoncello complete an exciting back line, starting on either wing.

In the forwards, the front row is comprised of Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera and Simone Ferrari. Niccolò Cannone and Federico Ruzza complete the tight five, while the back row is made up of Sebastian Negri at six, captain Michele Lamaro at seven and Lorenzo Cannone at No.8.

Winger Ethan Dumortier will make his debut for Les Bleus on Sunday. He will have experienced operators around him though, with Damian Penaud on the other wing and Thomas Ramos at full-back.

Gaël Fickou and Yoram Moefana form an exciting partnership, with the delightful duo of Antoine Dupont and named at nine and ten.

France's front row will see Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand and Uini Atonio link up once again. Thibaud Flament and Paul Willemse will continue their excellent partnership in the engine room.

Anthony Jelonch and Charles Ollivon will start on the flanks, with Grégory Alldritt named at No.8.

KEY BATTLE – Thomas Ramos v Ange Capuozzo

Ange Capuozzo has established himself as one of the finest full-backs in the world over the last 12 months.

The 2022 Guinness Six Nations was his coming out party and boy did he celebrate.

The prodigious maestro's outrageous break in the win against Wales set up Edoardo Padovani's late winner, and he went on to play a crucial role during Italy's successful summer and Autumn Nations Series.

However, he will have to take on one of the most versatile full-backs in the Championship, Thomas Ramos.

The Frenchman made three cameos last year but will be eager to impress from the start now that he has been given an opportunity to impress on the grandest stage.


● Italy have won just two of their previous 23 Guinness Six Nations matches against France (L21) and have lost each of their last nine, however, both of their previous victories came at home, in 2011 (22-21) and 2013 (23-18).

●Italy won their last match of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations (22-21 v Wales)after losing 36 in a row previously, however, they haven’t won at home in the competition since March 2013 (22-15 v Ireland) and have won back-to-back games just twice previously.

● Italy have won five of their last seven Test matches (L2), as many as they had won in their previous 36 combined (L31); they have scored 19+ points in each of their last eight Tests after failing to reach that mark in their previous 17.

● France won the Grand Slam in last year’s Guinness Six Nations and have won their opening match of the Championship in each of their last four campaigns as reigning champions; no side has ever completed back-to-back Grand Slams in the SixNations, with Les Bleus the last team to achieve that feat in the Five Nations (1997 & 1998).

● France have won each of their last 13 Test matches, their longest ever such run and finished 2022 with a 100% record for the first ever time in their history (min.3games), however, three of their last four victories have come by margins of just five points or fewer.

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