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RBS 6 Nations 2012: France v Italy Preview

France and Italy are set to start the RBS 6 Nations 2012 tournament when they face off in Stade de France, Paris, on the afternoon of Saturday 4th February 2012.

France go into the match as strong favourites, not just for the match, but also for the 6 Nations tournament, as their World Cup 2011 Finalist squad has not been hit by post World Cup Injuries and retirements as much as last year’s strong teams England, Wales and Ireland.

Italy have done well in recent seasons to shake off the tag of wooden-spooners, primarily through robust defending and an ability to work and take three point opportunities, but France are, as ever, expressive with the ball in hand – particularly when playing at home – so expect Les Bleus to pick up at least one five-pointer in either half.

If Italy are to get a result from this match, they will need to prevent France from scoring more than one try, and they’ll need to avoid having players put in the sin-bin in the process: they have the worst yellow card record of all 6 Nations teams, and these short-handed spells are usually when they lose their matches.

France have some impressive players, not least their scrum-half fly-half pairing of Yachvilli and Trinh-Duc, who have the ability to turn phases into attacking opportunities in moments. Morgan Parra the half back on the bench would easily make it into many an international first XV, so France have ample options in this key position.

Up front, Italy are big and strong, but they’ll need to be, for France’s front 8 are fearsome. While the Italian pack will not be pushed around, they will do no more than hold their own at the breakdown, scrummage and lineout today, and Italy will have to be careful they don’t get over-zealous in slowing France’s ball: which they must do if they are to prevent the gaps appearing in the backs.

Expect a France victory by 10-15 points today – more if Italy’s discipline does not hold.

France Starting XV

  • 15 Maxime MEDARD
  • 14 Vincent CLERC
  • 13 Aurelien ROUGERIE
  • 12 Wesley FOFANA
  • 11 Julien MALZIEU
  • 10 Francois TRINH-DUC
  • 9 Dimitri YACHVILI
  • 8 Louis PICAMOLES
  • 7 Julien BONNAIRE
  • 6 Thierry Dusatoir (C)
  • 5 Lionel NALLET
  • 4 Pascal PAPE
  • 3 Nicolas MAS
  • 2 William SERVAT
  • 1 Vincent DEBATY

France Replacements:

  • 16 Dimitri SZARZEWSKI
  • 17 Jean-Babtiste POUX
  • 18 Yoann MAESTRI
  • 19 Imanol HARINORDOQUY
  • 20 Morgan PARRA
  • 21 Lionel BEAUXIS
  • 22 Maxime MERMOZ

Italy Starting XV

  • 15 Andrea MASI
  • 14 Giovanbattista VENDITTI
  • 13 Tommaso BENVENUTI
  • 12 Alberto SGARBI
  • 11 Luke MCLEAN
  • 10 Kristopher BURTON
  • 9 Edoardo GORI
  • 8 Sergio PARISSE (C)
  • 7 Robert BARBIERI
  • 6 Alessandro ZANNI
  • 5 Quintin GELDENHUYS
  • 4 Cornelius VAN ZYL
  • 3 Martin CASTROGIOVANNI
  • 2 Leonardo GHIRALDINI
  • 1 Andrea LO CICERO

Italy Replacements:

  • 16 Tommaso D’APICE
  • 17 Lorenzo CITTADINI
  • 18 Marco BORTOLAMI
  • 19 Simone FAVARO
  • 20 Fabio SEMENZATO
  • 21 Tobias BOTES
  • 22 Gonzalo CANALE

France v Italy kicks off at 15:30 CET (14:30 GMT) on Saturday 4th February 2011 at Stade de France, Paris, France.

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Stories from the Sport Desk at The Global Herald.

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