Kicking off Six Nations Super Saturday is Italy going up against France - here's what you need to know.
Six Nations Italy v France Preview
Starting an epic day of international Six Nations rugby this Saturday will be the Italians going up against Les Bleus in Rome. Both sides are under incredible pressure at the moment with Italy desperate to finally get a win on the board. Whilst France are feeling the heat after a very up and down tournament so far – the quest for some consistency goes on.
In 2019’s tournament Italy have failed to pick up a four-pointer after narrow losses to Scotland, Wales and Ireland, before getting demolished by England. But that doesn’t really tell the whole story because Italy in those first three matches put in good performances but couldn’t get the job done possibly because they don’t have the same strength and depth as other teams.
Shifting to France, they, as per usual, have been up and down throughout. They played well against Wales but a Yoann Huget howler cost them the victory. They then got hammered by England, beat Scotland easily, and got thoroughly outplayed against Ireland. As I said, the quest for consistency rages on.
So what can we expect from the match? Well it can be argued that both sides are playing their ideal opponents in the final round of the 2019 tournament. Italy will be looking to play upon French anxieties and lack of calm under pressure, and the French will want to play a high-tempo attacking style of rugby that they are renowned for, and Italy are notoriously bad at dealing with.
What’s the big team news?
Conor O’Shea has made five starting line-up changes for their match against France this weekend, chief among which is the international debut of Marco Zanon who replaces Michelle Campagnaro at outside centre.
The other four changes come in the pack with Leonardo Ghiraldini, Tiziano Pasquali, David Sisi, and Jake Polledri coming in.
In terms of the French, Jacques Brunel has made several changes from last weekend. For example Maxime Medard replaces Thomas Ramos and Wesley Fofana has come in to replace Gael Fickou.
In the pack Jefferson Poirot, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Wenceslas Lauret and Arthur Iturria have all been replaced by Etienne Falgoux, Paul Willemse, Gregory Aldritt and Yacouba Camara.
What have the coaches said?
Italian head-coach Conor O’Shea said; “We will play against a very strong team as always happens in the Six Nations.
“Our focus will be on ourselves, trying to play our best rugby. We want to finish the championship with a great performance at Stadio Olimpico.”
French head-coach Brunel said; “We know this match will be difficult,
“Some Italians are playing their last [international] match, they will try to surpass themselves.
“We want to show a different face this week, but the results speak for themselves. We are not at the level of some of the other teams in this championship.
“We haven’t fixed everything, of course there are still things we need to work on. We will carry on, working hard, and with the World Cup to come, we are hopeful we can get it right.”
Any interesting statistics?
- Italy have beaten France just twice in the Six Nations – Both of their victories came in Rome in 2011 and 2013.
- They average 34.7 points in this fixture in the Six Nations. Italy average just 14.7.
- Italy have lost their last 21 Six Nations matches – a Championship record – while their last win in this tournament came four years ago against Scotland
- France have won just two of their last 11 Tests, and four of the last 21 (D1, L16).
- They have won four matches and lost 11 under Jacques Brunel.
What time does it kick off and is it on TV?
Italy v France, Saturday 16 March, Stadio Olimpico
This Test kicks off at 12.30pm on Saturday. It is live on ITV in the UK. Commentary will also be live on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra.
England’s Matthew Carley is the referee in Rome, with Welshman Nigel Owens and Irishman Andrew Brace as his assistants. The TMO will be Graham Hughes of England.
What are the line-ups?
Jayden Hayward, Edoardo Padovani, Marco Zanon, Luca Morisi, Angelo Esposito, Tommaso Allan, Tito Tebaldi, Andrea Lovotti, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Tiziano Pasquali, David Sisi, Federico Ruzza, Braam Steyn, Jake Polledri, Sergio Parisse.
Replacements: Luca Bigi, Cherif Traore, Simone Ferrari, Alessandro Zanni, Sebastian Negri, Guglielmo Palazzani, Ian McKinley, Luca Sperandio
Maxime Medard, Damian Penaud, Mathieu Bastareaud, Wesley Fofana, Yoann Huget; Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont, Etienne Falgoux, Guilhem Guirado (capt), Demba Bamba, Felix Lambey, Paul Willemse, Gregory Alldritt, Yacouba Camara, Louis Picamoles
Replacements: Camille Chat, Dany Priso, Dorian Aldegheri, Paul Gabrillagues, Arthur Iturria, Baptiste Serin, Camille Lopez, Thomas Ramos