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Italy vs France LIVE rugby: Six Nations 2023 result and reaction as Italy narrowly miss out on famous win

France are aiming to defend the Six Nations title that they won in such style with last year’s grand slam and start their bid when they travel to Rome to face a resurgent Italy this afternoon.

It promises to be a massive year for Les Bleus, who will host the World Cup in September, and under head coach Fabien Galthie are one of the favourites both then and now. Their fiercest competition for both comes in the shape of the No 1 ranked side in the world: Ireland, whose bonus-point victory over Wales in the opener in Cardiff on Saturday makes next week’s contest in Dublin a tantalising prospect.

However, they can’t overlook Italy - who finally ended their embarrassing 36-match losing streak in the Six Nations last year with an emotional victory over Wales, as the heroics of young superstar Ange Capuozzo set up Edoardo Padovani for a late game-winning try that will go down in the tournament’s history. Kieran Crowley’s side followed that up with a first-ever victory over Australia in the autumn and are a youthful team, clearly on the up.

France also ran into controversy this week as they were visited in training camp by former French Rugby Federation president Bernard Laporte, who was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence for corruption in December. Les Bleus general manager Raphael Ibanez explained the decision: “Our mission is a purely sporting one. Last night we invited Bernard because France organising the World Cup is thanks to him. And that’s where the deep motivation of our players comes from.”

Relive all the action from Italy vs France below:

Six Nations 2023: Italy vs France

  • Italy narrowly miss out on famous win over France in the final match of Round 1 of the 2023 Six Nations

  • Reigning grand slam champions Les Bleus pushed all the way but Jalibert’s try helps them win 29-24 in Rome

  • Resurgent Italy continued to show imprvement after an impressive 2022

  • FULL-TIME! ITALY 24-29 France

  • 67’ - TRY! Jalibert goes over after great work to put France back on top (ITA 24-29 FRA)

  • 62’ - PENALTY! Allan slots fourth penalty to give Italy the lead (ITA 24-22 FRA)

  • 51’ - PENALTY TRY! Alldritt hauls down a rolling maul for a penalty try and is sent to the sin-bin (ITA 21-22)

  • 32’ - TRY! Brilliant acrobatic finish down the blindside from Capuozzo (ITA 11-19 FRA)

  • 27’ - TRY! Dupont’s pinpoint cross-field kick finds debutant Dumortier for the score (ITA 6-19 FRA)

  • 19’ - TRY! Ramos dots down after Capuozzo outmuscled by Penaud in the air (ITA 3-12 FRA)

  • 5’ - TRY! Flament charges down Varney’s box kick and canters over (ITA 0-7 FRA)

Paul Willemse speaks to ITV

16:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“We are really happy for the win but we have to give credit to Italy,” the France lock concedes. “They have really, really lifted their game, they’ve improved their gameplan, their discipline - it was a tough game.

“They utilised their opportunities quite well - playing out of their 22 we kind of expected, and we got a few rewards out of it.

“It only gets harder! This competition is the best in the world and we are really under pressure. Each game is going to be a different challenge.”

F/T: Italy 24-29 France

16:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That really was wonderful fun. Credit to France for (just about) holding their nerve and finding a way to win, but Italy are building something bonkers and beautiful.

Here’s that winning score:

F/T: Italy 24-29 France

16:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

An extraordinary game of rugby, and another significant feather in the cap of this rapidly developing Italian team. The hosts played with belief and adventure right from the off, a tactic that looked foolish in the first 20 minutes but threatened to cause an almighty shock thereafter as some creative attacking play and Tommaso Allan’s boot nudged them in front.

But Matthieu Jalibert’s beautifully taken score spared France’s blushes - last year’s Grand Slammers are up and running with a five-point away victory, but that does not at all tell the story of a major, major scare.

FULL TIME! ITALY 24-29 FRANCE

16:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Italy 24-29 France, 82 minutes

16:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The maul goes down in a heap. “Down by white!” cries Matthew Carley - France have done it! By the skin of their teeth, the defending champions hold on and extend their unbeaten run!

Italy 24-29 France, 81 minutes

16:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The noise ratchets up. Where is Manuel Zuliani going?!? Antoine Dupont just about grabs him.

France have it - but illegally! Hands on the floor before contesting - penalty to Italy.

Another shallow kick from Allan, but Italy will have a seven metre lineout. Banker ball at the front...

Italy 24-29 France, 80 minutes

16:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Safety first from Allan - kicked out outside the French 22. One last shot at another magic Italian moment...

Italy 24-29 France, 79 minutes

16:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Penalty advantage for Italy! Two French players in at the side of the maul.

The clock ticks past 79:00 as Italy take a wise pause. Tommaso Allan will look for as much distance as possible with his punt towards the corner.

Italy 24-29 France, 78 minutes

16:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The lineout goes awry! France might have been able to milk some clock with the maul but Gaetan Barlot’s throw had too much amplitude.

The ball diverts into touch off a French boot. Italy lineout on halfway.

Italy 24-29 France, 77 minutes

16:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Alessandro Fusco has replaced Stephen Varney at scrum half for Italy. He injects a bit of tempo, bringing his forwards around the corner with appropriate gusto.

But that’s a magnificent bit of work from Sekou Macalou. Supports in the tackle, shows a clear release and then over the top like a barnacle - penalty to France!

Italy 24-29 France, 76 minutes

16:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Crikey is this tense. Into the final five minutes with the game very much in the balance.

France scrum strongly but can’t draw a penalty. A threaded kick goes out of play just before Ange Capuozzo’s attempted hack diverts it further towards the stands - it’ll be Italy’s lineout ball to throw.

Italy 24-29 France, 74 minutes

16:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France have started to be more active at the breakdown, both counter-rucking when they can and trying to jackal if the opportunity is there. Yoram Moefana tries one of each, nearly winning the ball with a burly shove and then cleared out well just as he seemed ready to pounce on an isolated Italian carrier.

Missed penalty! Italy 24-29 France, 73 minutes

16:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Just wide! An ooh of disappointment from Tommaso Allan, slicing his effort from the ten-metre line wide. Five points the gap remains.

Italy 24-29 France, 71 minutes

16:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But Italy refuse to go away. Another advantage (for a tackle off the ball from Romain Taofifenua) prompts a left-ward exploration, with Tommasoo Menoncello put into space.

Menoncello pokes ahead and looks the favourite for the bouncing ball, but can’t force his second kick between French legs to capitalise.

There’s the penalty, though, to which Italy can return. What’s the decision? A kick at goal.

Italy 24-29 France, 70 minutes

16:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A timely steal from French hands! Italy play, slightly surprisingly, off the top of the lineout, and Anthony Jelonch is in superbly to nick the ball after Italy’s midfield carrier is felled.

Italy 24-29 France, 69 minutes

16:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A big test now for Italy to recompose themselves and push for a grandstand finish. More changes in the pack: Luca Bigi at hooker, Federico Zani at prop, Giovanni Pettinelli in the back row, and Edoardo Iachizzi at lock - a debut for Iachizzi, who is based in France with Vannes.

Italy win a penalty at the lineout.

TRY! Italy 24-29 FRANCE (Matthieu Jalibert try, 67 minutes)

16:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Clinical from France! Just like that, the visitors score and lead.

Lovely rugby. Gael Fickou is taken high but intelligently releases as he hits the deck, enabling him to regain his feet and go again.

The Italian defence scrambles but is undone by two offloads, first Charles Ollivon on to Romain Taofifenua and then the replacement second row to Matthieu Jalibert after drawing three to his hulking frame.

A superb take and offload from Taofifenua, a nifty step past the last defender from Jalibert and the conversion means France lead by five.

Italy 24-22 France, 66 minutes

16:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another penalty against Italy, this time at the maul. Jalibert punts France down into the Italian 22.

Edoardo Padovani, match winner in Cardiff last year of course, replaces Pierre Bruno. Defensive duties for the back three veteran for now.

Italy 24-22 France, 65 minutes

16:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Space on the left now for Italy. Can they find it? Not quite! A low pass to Pierre Bruno and the stooping wing can’t clutch it at his shins.

Italy are then penalised for killing the ball. France penalty.

Another change for the visitors from a stony-faced Fabien Galthie - Romain Ntamack off, Matthieu Jalibert on. Manuel Zuliani replaces Sebastian Negri in the Italian back row.

Italy 24-22 France, 64 minutes

16:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Free kick to Italy and off they go, ball spreading quickly to the right and into the hands of Ange Capuozzo. No time for daring, poked intelligently ahead for his chasers.

Damian Penaud gets back to cover and clear but Italy throw the lineout immediately!

Italy 24-22 France, 62 minutes

16:29 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France’s bench are tasked with making an impact - Gaetan Barlot replaces Julien Marchand and Sekou Macalou is on in the back row, too.

A Stephen Varney box kick bounces favourably for Italy after Thomas Ramos misjudges the flight. Knocked on from French hands - Italy scrum six metres inside their own half.

PENALTY! ITALY 24-22 France (Tommaso Allan penalty, 62 minutes)

16:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It’s there. Italy lead France with 18 minutes left.

Italy 21-22 France, 60 minutes

16:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

An offside penalty to Italy, eminently kickable. Charles Ollivon is about to return but he may do so with his side in arrears...

Italy 21-22 France, 60 minutes

16:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Oh dear. Italy win the lineout this time but a pod of forwards get in a muddle, Danilo Fischetti looking aghast as he knocks on Stephen Varney’s pass.

Italy 21-22 France, 58 minutes

16:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Giacomo Nicotera is having a strong ten minutes. He anchors over the top in ideal jackal position, earning both ball and a penalty for his efforts.

Lorenzo Cannone threatens to rampage right up the centre of the French defensive line but is just about halted. Back for the penalty, which is kicked up the right touchline.

Missed penalty! Italy 21-22 France, 57 minutes

16:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Thomas Ramos drives for goal from 40 metres out...pushed to the right.

Italy 21-22 France, 57 minutes

16:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ah - that’s frustrating for Italy, having both their lineout stolen and a penalty awarded against them just as they looked to have survived defensively.

Thomas Ramos will go for goal as Pietro Ceccarelli comes on to the Italian tighthead.

Italy 21-22 France, 56 minutes

16:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Not for long! Julien Marchand is chopped at the knees by Giacomo Nicotera and is left isolated, the France hooker rolling away in an attempt to keep Lorenzo Cannone’s pilfering paws away from the ball. Marchand is penalised and Italy clear.

Italy 21-22 France, 55 minutes

16:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another tight five change for France: Romain Taofifenua can just about match Paul Willemse in the size stakes and steps in to the second row.

Another shallow Tommaso Allan clearance grants more attacking ball for France’s 14 men.

Italy 21-22 France, 54 minutes

16:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Almost something from nothing from Damian Penaud! Penaud looks up into a wall of Italian white shirts but threads a grubber delicately between them, and sets off into that gorgeous sprinter’s stride. Luca Morisi is a little slow on the turn and very, very nearly beaten to the ball by a motoring Penaud, but the Italian centre is just about able to get his hands to the ball and force a knock on.

Italy 21-22 France, 52 minutes

16:17 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France make changes - two new props into the front row in Reda Wardi and Sipili Falatea, with Cyril Baille and Uini Atonio removed.

Tommaso Allan gets his kick all wrong, skewing it out only seven metres or so up the left Italian touchline...but Federico Ruzza makes up for his fly half’s error by pinching the lineout!

PENALTY TRY! ITALY 21-22 France (51 minutes)

16:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Penalty try! The line was in sight for Giacomo Nicotera and Ollivon clearly dragged him down - the French flanker can have no complaints as he’s dispatched for the naughty step.

Seven points to the Italian tally and France lose a man. Surely not?

Italy 14-22 France, 51 minutes

16:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy’s maul gets a moving, and Charles Ollivon appears to haul it down. It’ll definitely be yellow but will this also be a penalty try?

Italy 14-22 France, 50 minutes

16:13 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France tackle Pierre Bruno high as the wing stoops slightly into contact after another Italian kick return. Just a penalty, according to referee Matt Carley, who permits Italy to explore with an advantage.

Tommaso Allan tosses a miss ball over the top for Seb Negri, who swats away Damian Penaud. But there’s no major ground made - they’ll have the penalty.

How ambitious will Allan be with his touchfinder? Very! It’s right in the corner...

Italy 14-22 France, 48 minutes

16:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Tommaso Allan inadvertendly acquaints himself with the chest of teammate Federico Ruzza, the lock rather getting in the way as his fly half tries to threaten on the counter-attack.

That’s a meaty meeting - Paul Willemse detonates Michele Lamaro’s ribcage with Uini Atonio providing sizeable support. Not a pair of nightclub bouncers I’d wish to cross.

PENALTY! Italy 14-22 FRANCE (Thomas Ramos penalty, 47 minutes)

16:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Left of centre and 35 metres out, but easy enough for the full back. France extend their advantage.

Italy 14-19 France, 45 minutes

16:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Penalty advantage coming for France as Damian Penaud goes off on one of his meanders, like a country rambler with a faulty compass, hither and thither and eventually vaguely in the right direction. Anthony Jelonch and Charles Ollivon combine out wide but France run out of options, and a knock on means back for the penalty they’ll have to come.

Thomas Ramos will have a go at goal.

Italy 14-19 France, 44 minutes

16:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Pierre Bruno this time provides useful occupation of the backfield after Romain Ntamack stabs a grubber towards the corner. But Italy can’t really get out - another shallow-ish kick and France can build from a lineout inside the Italy half.

Italy 14-19 France, 42 minutes

16:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Good covering from Stephen Varney! It’s really smart from France, playing their game of close-in carriers and winning consistent collisions before spreading the ball wide when the chance appears. Antoine Dupont fizzes a delectable pass to Damian Penaud, who chips beyond Varney.

The scrum half turns as Penaud drops ball to boot and thus is already in hasty retreat as Penaud begins his sprint. Varney dots down in his own in-goal and Italy can clear from a goalline drop out.

Italy 14-19 France, 41 minutes

16:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There’s no immediate tempering of the Italian strategy, exploring attacking opportunities from the kick off before deciding that a more conventional exit might, actually, be wise. It’s not the best clearance - France will have a lineout 25 metres out.

Second half

16:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Michele Lamaro gathers the Italian squad in a huddle as they wait for their opponents to re-emerge, a focussed look around the ring. Can they remain in touch?

France get things back underway.

H/T: Italy 14-19 France

16:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France probably just need to stick to their processes slightly more, and perhaps be slightly more selective on which breakdowns to contest. Matthew Carley has been hot on French players off their feet at the ruck, and if Italy continue to play so extravagantly after the half-time oranges, the hosts’ errors will continue to grant opportunities without undue need to earn turnover ball.

H/T: Italy 14-19 France

15:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A compelling, fascinating and slightly perplexing half of rugby. Italy’s plan has clearly been to play as much as possible, limiting France’s opportunities to counter-attack or build kick pressure - and it’s a strategy that has brought mixed returns. In the first 20 minutes, the hosts wouldn’t stop coughing up the ball, allowing France into the game rather easily. A charge down score from Thibaud Flament put the defending champions ahead before Romain Ntamack’s dainty dinks enabled two of his back three to go over in the corner.

But Italy have caused plenty of problems for the French defence with their varied attacking play, and Ange Capuozzo’s superb scamper into the corner was just reward for their efforts.

HALF TIME! ITALY 14-19 FRANCE

15:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

PENALTY! ITALY 14-19 France (Tommaso Allan penalty, 42 minutes)

15:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Safely popped through by Tommaso Allan - the margin is five points at the half.

Italy 11-19 France, 40 minutes

15:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But Italy regather and reload and earn a penalty right in front of the posts. Take the three, surely? Italian captain Michele Lamaro indicates as much as French counterpart Antoine Dupont is warned about his team’s discipline.

Italy 11-19 France, 39 minutes

15:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Nothing doing at the maul so it is over to the forwards, punching around the corner. An undulating Federico Ruzza shakes free a tackler and gets to within a couple of yards of the French line, before a contesting Charles Ollivon just fails in his attempt to snatch the ball.

Onwards Italy go, then, but Tommaso Allan is taken man and ball and thus throws a slightly wayward pull-back pass.

Italy 11-19 France, 38 minutes

15:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A few boos from the French supporters in the stand as they are penalised twice in quick succession on the left. That enables Italy to swap their own 22 for the opposition’s - with a chance for another score before the interval.

Italy 11-19 France, 35 minutes

15:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A helter skelter couple of minutes as the two sides trade loose kicks and slightly inaccurate chases. Ethan Dumortier shows off his flashing feet darting in from the left wing and France move the ball out to the right.

Gael Fickou spots space in the Italian backfield, but puts too much on his prod through, with Damian Penaud throwing his head back in frustration as the ball beats him to the touchline.

TRY! ITALY 11-19 France (Ange Capuozzo try, 32 minutes)

15:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another one for the Ange Capuozzo scrap book!

Eight caps, six tries, with Gregory Alldritt the latest bamboozled by the snaking hips. Italy’s maul crabs infield, and, in truth, the play looks a little aimless as the ball is tossed to the diminutive full back with the blindside looking well populated with French shirts.

But that’s not accounting for Capuozzo’s quicksilver. Step left, step right and then left again, Alldritt caught on his heels and grasping in vain as he’s beaten to the corner.

Italy 6-19 France, 31 minutes

15:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Juan Ignacio Brex is no Romain Ntamack. Italy have advantage and Brex drops ball to boot, looking for a crossfield kick. It’s not the worst idea, with advantage coming little bit of space in front of Pierre Bruno on the right, but while the idea is the same as Ntamack’s, Brex’s effort is rather lacking in elegance.

Italy 6-19 France, 30 minutes

15:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Uini Atonio has taken a bang to the cheek, a cooling bag pushed against his jowls and seeming to do the trick. Italy kick down to the fringes of the French 22 - hoping to match this efficient red zone score from their opposition:

Italy 6-19 France, 29 minutes

15:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There’s a certain Penaud-ian look to Dumortier, who is tall and rangy but has wonderfully deft feet. Like Gabin Villiere, who would have started today but for a midweek injury set back, the Lyon strider spent a fair bit of time in the French Sevens set up, an avenue of development that this team has used well.

Julien Marchand is penalised on halfway after the hooker disrupts Italian ruck ball from the side.

TRY! Italy 6-19 FRANCE (Ethan Dumortier try, 27 minutes)

15:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A try on debut for Ethan Dumortier!

Italy manage to win the ball back but then make another untimely error, Stephen Varney leaving the ball exposed and allowing Gregory Alldritt to pounce. From there, it feels a matter of when not if as France stress the edges. Pierre Bruno is caught in field as Romain Ntamack lifts another of his floated kicks, and Dumortier rises wonderfully elegantly to take, canter round beneath the sticks and dot down.

Thomas Ramos adds the extra two.

Italy 6-12 France, 26 minutes

15:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy have clearly identifield some space over the top of the French defensive ruck, with Stephen Varney this time finding it with his chip, but unfortunate that only the slightly sluggish Seb Negri is in pursuit. That allows Romain Ntamack to sashay on to it and then by Negri, and France are building again.

Italy 6-12 France, 24 minutes

15:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Nearly more self-harm from Italy! Another chargedown, on this occasion Antoine Dupont timing his sprint perfectly to get in the way of Tommaso Allan’s punt. The fly half is rather lucky he’d given it a right tonking, with the ball ricocheting from Dupont’s arms and scurrying dead before he can capitalise.

PENALTY! ITALY 6-12 France (Tommaso Allan penalty, 23 minutes)

15:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Clean and true from the Italy fly-half. Three more points next to Tommaso Allan’s name.

Italy 3-12 France, 22 minutes

15:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

More like it from Italy. Their handling is superb as they work the phases in the French half, Sebastian Negri shipping on smartly under pressure with Federico Ruzza twice involved, the tall lock holding the ball firmly in one enormous paw. Eventually Italy are squeezed out, but there’s a penalty advantage bang in front and Tommaso Allan will surely double his tally.

Italy 3-12 France, 21 minutes

15:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France haven’t had to do too much inside their own half in this game, such has been Italy’s generosity in granting them possession. Their restart drill is sound, though - taken down well and then thumped upfield by Antoine Dupont, who finds touch.

TRY! Italy 3-12 FRANCE (Thomas Ramos try, 19 minutes)

15:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It’s lively attack from France, condensing the forwards with the maul, Gael Fickou then beating a couple of would-be tackles as he pirouettes in midfield.

Romain Ntamack opts for the kick-pass, floating his sand wedge slightly too much and allowing Ange Capuozzo to get to it first, but a hefty collision with Damian Penaud (competing entirely legally) sees the ball spring free.

Thomas Ramos grounds (just about cleanly) - the try is good! The full back’s conversion from the right fades away.

Try? France think they have scored in the corner but has the crossfield kick been knocked on first?

15:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It is an on field try...

Italy 3-7 France, 18 minutes

15:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy get narrowed slightly in their next defensive set but hurry across in enough number to force a knock on after a looping Damian Penaud had strode free up the left.

But then the hosts infringe at the scrum! Uini Atonio drives right through the gap between Danilo Fischetti and Giacomo Nicotera, who stand up under pressure.

France prod into the corner.

Italy 3-7 France, 16 minutes

15:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ollivon’s fumble came after two moments of curious decision-making from Italy: first the ball was flung wildly wide before Pierre Bruno, who had done well to pick up the pieces, dropped the ball in attempting to make a hurried clearance.

Italy jackal strongly for a third time to turnover French possession.

No try! Italy 3-7 France, 15 minutes

15:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy lose possession inside their own 22 again and France capitalise once more!

Or do they? This might need a check. It’s really poor from Italy but has Ollivon grounded cleanly?

He doesn’t. No try! The flanker was reaching between two Italian tacklers and appeared to get the ball to floor on first look, but the slow-motion replay shows that he has lost control, and Matthew Carley chalks off the score.

PENALTY! ITALY 3-7 France (Tommaso Allan penalty, 14 minutes)

15:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy are on the board. The director cuts to a rather glum looking Kieran Crowley, but he’ll hope that might just compose his side a little.

Italy 0-7 France, 13 minutes

15:14 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy have definitely come to dance. Ange Capuozzo fizzes about, benefitting from a deliciously deft pull back pass from renaissance prop Danilo Fischetti.

Luca Morisi ploughs a more direct furrow, and Uini Atonio’s fail to fully release before contesting results in an Italian penalty. It’s kickable, and Tommaso Allan beckons for the tee...

Italy 0-7 France, 12 minutes

15:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

That’s better work defensively, though. Stephen Varney marks Antoine Dupont well, staying in the fight even as that beefy bicep of the French scrum half tries to thrust his opposite number away. Italy hold their shape and win a jackal penalty.

Italy 0-7 France, 10 minutes

15:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This is a properly frantic start from Italy. You have to applaud the ambition but they just need to settle a little. Another handling error will give France another possession inside the home half.

Italy 0-7 France, 9 minutes

15:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Here come the heavy mob, Uini Atonio and Paul Willemse used in quick succession. But a penalty to Italy 15 metres from their own line.! Willemse affords himself an extra roll in an attempt to buy time for a supporting clearout, but Matt Carley is wise to it, and pings the second row.

Italy 0-7 France, 8 minutes

15:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Antoine Dupont is fizzing already. The scrum half beats three men to the outside with a couple of fierce fends and then somehow finds a teammate with a blind, contorted offload back inside.

Italy 0-7 France, 7 minutes

15:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Kieran Crowley will be furious with this Italian start. He’s promised to encourage his team to play their own brand of rugby, but the accuracy has not been there at all so far, and it’s allowed France a very, very easy route into the game.

Italy are penalised and France kick down towards the opposition 22.

TRY! Italy 0-7 FRANCE (Thibaud Flament try, 5 minutes)

15:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Thibaud Flament collects and strides in from 25 metres out!

We mentioned that Italy would pay if they continued to turnover the ball. It’s a self-inflicted wound, Stephen Varney short of protection near the ruck and perhaps foolishly trying to lift a dainty box kick for a chasing teammate over the very long limbs of Flament.

The second row watches the ball bounce off Varney and back into his hands and strides beneath the uprights. A simple conversion and the defending champions are up and running.

Italy 0-0 France, 5 minutes

15:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy had a slight nudge on at the opening scrum but it is France just in the ascendancy at the second, though not sufficiently to trouble Italian ball.

Charged down!...

Italy 0-0 France, 3 minutes

15:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It will be a long afternoon for Italy if they continue to give up ball so readily. Another error near the scrum allows French hands to once more grasp it, and the tempo is quick from the visitors. Motorised monolith Uini Atonio creates great midfield craters, but a handling error ends the movement just as it begins to build momentum.

Italy 0-0 France, 2 minutes

15:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A dropped ball just as France seemed set to pounce on an Italian error! Lovely play initially from the hosts, but an errant pass bounced kindly for Thomas Ramos, who quickly put his foot down and accelerated away.

With Damian Penaud on his shoulder, it looks like the conclusion is foregone, but Ramos’ infield pass is somewhat perplexing shelled by the great wing finisher with more French shirts arriving in support!

Italy 0-0 France, 1 minute

15:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A strong start from France, exiting competently through Antoine Dupont’s right boot and then disrupting Italy’s lineout, though not sufficiently to gain possession.

KICK OFF!

15:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Right, here we go - Italy in white with navy shorts and shoulders, France in familiar royal blue. And we’re off!

Match Officials

15:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Matthew Carley of England has the whistle this afternoon, with Wales’ Ben Whitehouse his TMO. The pair worked together in London Irish’s win over Harlequins last week as a bit of a Six Nations tune-up - I thought the officials generally had a good day all round yesterday, with Paul Williams particularly impressive at Twickenham.

Anthems

14:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A slightly discordant rendition of “La Marseillaise”, though it does serve to highlight a good number of French fans full of throat and out in force to support their team.

“Il Canto degli Italiani” is sung more pleasantly. The Italian front rowers drape hands across hearts and roar out the final lines.

Italy vs France

14:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The players emerge from the Stadio Olimpico tunnel, up the steps and out into the Italian afternoon. Ah, perhaps optimism about the crowd was slightly misplaced - it looks like there are plenty of empty seats in Rome.

Still plenty of noise as Michele Lamaro strides out confidently.

France defence coach Shaun Edwards also has a pre-match natter

14:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“It’s been a very good two weeks down in the south of France,” Edwards tells ITV. “We’ve got a lot of work done. We are not underestimating our opponents - we know what they’ve done recently.”

[No team has ever defended achieved back-to-back Grand Slams?] “That’s the challenge. That’s what we like.

“[Italy have] threats all over the pitch and they have great team effort. They’ve got some very good jackalers at the ruck to slow down our ball and we are under no illusions of the challenge today. We want the attitude and desire of a challenger.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Italy vs France

14:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Paolo Garbisi thinks the conditions will suit his side but I don’t France will mind a fast track given the number of outstanding offloaders in the team.

And injured fly half Garbisi has been grabbed for a chat by ITV

14:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“I think and I hope the team are ready. I saw a team that was really positive this week, I think we’ve prepped well. It is a beautiful day here in Rome and I hope we can do it.

“France is a really unbelievable team, they’ve proven that in the last few years. Breakdowns are going to be key today. In defence, if they get quick ball it is very hard to stop them.

“We want to play more with the ball in hand, have more fun with the ball. The conditions are perfect for us today. [A win in Rome] would be amazing.”

Italy vs France

14:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And, just because we can, it’s probably worth another look back at Italy’s last involvement in this competition. Incidentally, with no Paolo Garbisi or Leonardo Marin, I think Edoardo Padovani is ostensibly Italy’s fly half cover behind Tommaso Allan this afternoon.

Italy vs France

14:29 , Harry Latham-Coyle

We are expecting a good turnout at the Stadio Olimpico this afternoon. The Italian rugby ecosystem is a slightly curious one, with the sport much more popular in the north of the country but the national stadium in the capital further south. The autumn saw a couple of very successful trips to outposts in Tuscany and Liguria but Kieran Crowley likes having these prestige Six Nations fixtures in Rome, with the hope that more success for his developing side can help energise more support for the sport throughout the country.

France mean business

14:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Suits and white trainers - it’s a familiar look for France’s strutters, who bring a certain style to proceedings on and off the pitch. It really is a massive year for this team, which remains remarkably young, but they wear the pressure rather well.

Can Italy match France’s tight five?

14:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

I’m also mightily intrigued by the battle in the tight, particularly at the set piece. France are perhaps slightly more vulnerable up front than at first appearance, having lost their lineout caller in Cameron Woki and with Cyril Baille a little short of form. Danilo Fischetti has largely been used off the bench by London Irish and will be tested by the sheer mass of the colossal Uini Atonio and Paul Willemse on the tighthead side of the French scrum, but if Fischetti can hold his own then Italy can set a stable platform from which to build.

Federico Ruzza will be key, too, a lock who does the bits both seen and unseen at a very high level. A win is probably beyond Italy, but a strong showing would go a long way towards building some momentum for the remainder of the tournament.

Skillful second row Federico Ruzza is a key figure for Italy (Getty Images)
Skillful second row Federico Ruzza is a key figure for Italy (Getty Images)

Capuozzo vs Ramos

14:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The city motto in Toulouse is “for Toulouse, always more”, a mantra Ugo Mola and co seem to have taken to heart when it comes to full back recruitment. In Argentina’s Juan Cruz Mallia, Italy’s Ange Capuozzo and French pair Melvyn Jaminet and Thomas Ramos, Mola has four proven international options at his disposal at the Stade Ernest Wallon, including both starters this afternoon.

Having so enlivened his first year in international rugby, Capuozzo’s second act will be fascinating – you’d expect France to test a relatively inexperienced Italian back three with their kicking game but that may create counter-attacking opportunities for Capuozzo and co.

Ramos’ unpredictable attacking game might suit an open contest, too. With no Jonathan Danty to win the midfield gainline, France will have to play slightly differently, and one option could be to go wider earlier in phase play with Ramos providing an extra pair of distributing hands in the line. Yoram Moefana, Gael Fickou, Ethan Dumortier and Damian Penaud are all comfortable in the centres or on the wing – their interchangeability should present Italy’s defence varied questions.

Italy vs France

14:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

What pleasures might today bring? Hopes are high in Italy that they can build on the successes of last year, with Kieran Crowley talking really well at the championship launch about the way the win over Wales particularly changed the conversation about Italian rugby within the country and beyond.

Scotland continue outstanding Calcutta Cup run

14:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And Steve Borthwick’s England tenure didn’t get off to the finest of starts, either, with Scotland winners of the Calcutta Cup for a third time in a row for the first time in more than 50 years.

Duhan van der Merwe lights up Twickenham as Scotland snatch win over England

The opening weekend continues

13:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Here we are then, the opening Sunday of the 2023 Six Nations, with Italy and France ready to begin their campaigns in crisp Roman sunshine.

Can France answer Ireland’s declaration of intent? Andy Farrell’s side looked mighty effective in the first half hour in Cardiff yesterday, putting the result beyond doubt early on to rather thoroughly spoil Warren Gatland’s Wales return.

TEAM NEWS: Italy line-up

13:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy, meanwhile, begin their campaign without a handful of key names, with Toa Halafihi injured, wing Monty Ioane otherwise engaged with the Rebels in his native Melbourne and Paolo Garbisi still a week or two away from full fitness.

With no Garbisi, Tommaso Allan gets another opportunity to convert solid Harlequins form into a productive performance after a very good showing against Australia in the autumn, while Ange Capuozzo and Tommaso Menoncello will provide plenty of fresh-faced threat out wide.

Up front, Lorenzo Cannone is the beneficiary of Halafihi’s absence at number eight, with a six-two bench split evidence of Italy’s considerable back row depth. Lock Edoardo Iachizzi awaits a debut.

Italy: 15. Ange Capuozzo; 14. Pierre Bruno, 13. Juan Ignacio Brex, 12. Luca Morisi, 11. Tommaso Menoncello; 10. Tommaso Allan, 9. Stephen Varney; 1. Danilo Fischetti, 2. Giacomo Nicotera, 3. Simone Ferrari, 4. Niccolo Cannone, 5. Federico Ruzza, 6. Sebastian Negri, 7. Michele Lamaro (capt), 8. Lorenzo Cannone.

Replacements: 16. Luca Bigi, 17. Federico Zani, 18. Pietro Ceccarelli, 19. Edoardo Iachizzi, 20. Giovanni Pettinelli, 21. Manuel Zuliani, 22. Alessandro Fusco, 23. Edoardo Padovani.

TEAM NEWS: France line-up

13:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

An unbeaten 2022 gives way to a vital 2023 for France, with a defence of their Grand Slam crown and a home World Cup to come later in the year. Like counterpart Kieran Crowley, Fabien Galthie is shorn of a handful of influential figures, with Cameron Woki and Jonathan Danty leaving sizeable schematic holes in the second row and centres respectively.

Gabin Villiere is back ahead of schedule but not quite ready to return to action just yet, which grants a debut for Ethan Dumortier on the left wing. The versatile Yoram Moefana wears 12 while Thomas Ramos gets the nod ahead of Toulouse teammate Melvyn Jaminet at full back.

The form of Cyril Baille will be a slight concern for Galthie, but his first-choice front row remains intact after a fine tournament 12 months ago. Thibaud Flament takes Woki’s spot at loosehead lock and France also have six forwards among their replacements on which they can call – though do everything Sekou Macalou doubles as handy wing cover. Uber talented 20-year-old scrum half Nolan Le Garrec is another likely debutant.

France: 15. Thomas Ramos; 14. Damian Penaud, 13. Gael Fickou, 12. Yoram Moefana, 11. Ethan Dumortier; 10. Romain Ntamack, 9. Antoine Dupont (capt); 1. Cyril Baille, 2. Julien Marchand, 3. Uini Atonio; 4. Thibaud Flament, 5. Paul Willemse; 6. Anthony Jelonch, 7. Charles Ollivon, 8. Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements: 16. Gaetan Barlot, 17. Reda Wardi, 18. Sipili Falatea, 19. Romain Taofifenua, 20. Thomas Lavault, 21. Sekou Macalou, 22. Nolann Le Garrec, 23. Matthieu Jalibert.

What TV channel is Italy vs France on?

13:20 , Luke Baker

France look to kick off a historic year for Les Bleus ahead of the World Cup when they travel to face Italy in the Six Nations opener.

The French side were visited by former federation president Bernard Laporte before the game.

The move was controversial after Laporte was handed a two-year suspended prison sentence for corruption in December.

France’s general manager Raphael Ibanez explained the decision: “Our mission is a purely sporting one. Last night we invited Bernard, because France organising the World Cup is thanks to him. And that’s where the deep motivation of our players comes from. The staff - it’s him, too.”

Here’s everything you need to know about the game in Rome:

What TV channel is Italy vs France on?

Six Nations 2023: Italy vs France

13:09 , Luke Baker

Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of Italy vs France - the final match of Round 1 of the 2023 Six Nations.

France are aiming to defend the Six Nations title that they won in such style with last year’s grand slam and start their bid when they travel to Rome to face a resurgent Italy this afternoon.

It promises to be a massive year for Les Bleus, who will host the World Cup in September, and under head coach Fabien Galthie are one of the favourites both then and now. Their fiercest competition for both comes in the shape of the No 1 ranked side in the world: Ireland, whose bonus-point victory over Wales in the opener in Cardiff on Saturday makes next week’s contest in Dublin a tantalising prospect.

However, they can’t overlook Italy - who finally ended their embarrassing 36-match losing streak in the Six Nations last year with an emotional victory over Wales, as the heroics of young superstar Ange Capuozzo set up Edoardo Padovani for a late game-winning try that will go down in the tournament’s history. Kieran Crowley’s side followed that up with a first-ever victory over Australia in the autumn and are a youthful team, clearly on the up.

We’ll bring you all the live coverage.