France vs Italy LIVE: Latest rugby score and Six Nations updates from Stade de France

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LIVE – Updated at 15:51

Follow live updates as France host Italy in the final Six Nations fixture of the opening weekend. Hopes will be high in Paris as Les Blues open their campaign as tournament favourites and with real belief that they can win the title for the first time since 2010. Victory over New Zealand during the Autumn Nations Series at a raucous Stade de France was the latest example that this team is ready to deliver a championship, with Romain Ntamack and Antoine Dupont playing starring roles in Fabien Galthie’s side.

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The France head coach will be absent for his team’s opening fixture after testing positive for Covid, but the hosts remain overwhelming favourites as they welcome their continental rivals Italy. The Italians are odds-on to finish with the wooden spoon once again and have not won a Six Nations fixture since 2015.

Anything other than France joining Scotland and Ireland at the top of the table would be a seismic shock, following wins over England and Wales respectively on the opening day of the tournament on Saturday. A France win would also set up a huge fixture against Ireland in the second week, a match that could go a long way to deciding the tournament winner.

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Follow live updates from France vs Italy in the Six Nations below:

France vs Italy latest Six Nations updates

  • France aiming to join Scotland and Ireland with opening win
  • Underdogs Italy without a Six Nations victory since 2015
  • Antoine Dupont captains France in a rainy Paris

HALF TIME: FRANCE 18-10 ITALY

15:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France vs Italy LIVE: Latest rugby score and Six Nations updates from Stade de France
© Provided by The Independent (AFP via Getty Images)

TRY! FRANCE 18-10 Italy (Gabin Villiere try, 41 minutes)

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15:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And Gabin Villiere rides the slip n’ slide into the left corner!

Italy are pinged for an aerial infringement at the lineout, encouraging France to abandon their mauling plans and try their luck through the hands. Despite a greasy ball, the handling is impeccable as Italy rush up to close the space, with Damian Penaud’s quick transfer to Melvyn Jaminet key.

Jaminet puts the ball in the hands of the ex-sevens flyer, and Villiere goes underground to beat the covering Italians to the line. Jaminet adds the conversion, and that will make France feel a whole lot better as they trot down the tunnel.

France 11-10 Italy, 39 minutes

15:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy just about survive another scrum examination but do less well when the ball is shifted to Marco Zanon in midfield. The supporting player goes off their feet on arrival – France penalty in front of the posts…

Which is poked into the right corner!

France 11-10 Italy, 38 minutes

15:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Dupont has another exploration around the fringes and this time France are on the same page. To the right the scrum-half now goes but that is a rapidly closing blindside – Jonathan Danty is a centre of significant bulk but even he won’t be able to remain in the field of play against three Italian tacklers.

France 11-10 Italy, 37 minutes

15:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Antoine Dupont pops his head up like a gopher from its hole as he assesses where best to go when he removes the ball from a maul that is making little progress. He skips to the right to the openside, and dribbles a little grubber in behind the Italian defence, but his midfield didn’t receive sufficient notice of their captain’s intentions – Italy’s Stephen Varney covers across and dots down.

France 11-10 Italy, 36 minutes

15:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Some joue, joue from France, flinging the ball with reckless abandon granted them by referee Mike Adamson’s call of advantage. Damian Penaud loves a dart inside against a drifting line, and Italy do well to cling on to the angular wing.

They’ll take the advantage. Another entry into the Italian 22 – can France convert this one into a score?

Italy went ahead through Tommaso Menoncello’s aerial acrobatics

15:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

TRY! What a score for Italy! Debut try for Tommaso Menoncello 🏉

France 3-7 Italy#ITVRugby|#SixNations pic.twitter.com/IaGZ9fU5kJ

— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) February 6, 2022

PENALTY! FRANCE 11-10 Italy (Melvyn Jaminet penalty, 34 minutes)

15:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Jaminet doubles his Six Nations tally from the left. There’s a great boom as he strikes the ball – that’s a meaty right boot.

France 8-10 Italy, 33 minutes

15:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Advantage is coming for France now as Antoine Dupont explores the left. Damian Penaud adds extra linking hands far from his right wing home but Tommaso Menoncello makes a good defensive read to take both Penaud and Gabin Villiere on the outside with a sliding tackle and avoid leaving Edoardo Padovani isolated.

Nothing comes of the French attack, so Melvyn Jaminet will have the tee brought on and seek three.

France 8-10 Italy, 32 minutes

15:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Invention from France! After a reasonable maul drive, they throw the ball into midfield to the hard-carrying Jonathan Danty, who rushes up with intent before dropping a deft little dab in behind.

Italy just about scramble back to gather, and somehow survive to clear. France in possession and Paul Willemse drives back into the 22.

PENALTY! France 8-10 ITALY (Paolo Garbisi penalty, 30 minutes)

15:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Aligned with the right upright, Garbisi sweeps it between the sticks. Italy nudge back ahead.

France 8-7 Italy, 29 minutes

15:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Still, there are some lovely pictures being painted by Italy in attack. Marco Zanon has really caught the eye so far with his direct carrying and France are offside soon after, rushing up to try and prevent Ignacio Brex sliding into an inviting outside channel.

Paolo Garbisi will kick at goal.

TRY! FRANCE 8-7 Italy (Anthony Jelonch try, 26 minutes)

15:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

From nowhere! Italy shoot themselves in the foot!

Cameron Woki contests the lineout and forces an errant Italian tap-back, Stephen Varney scrambling back to gather. But the Italy scrum-half is unaware of his surroundings, most particularly Anthony Jelonch arriving at speed in the space between Varney and Monty Ioane. Varney’s blind flipped ball is gathered by Jelonch, who cannot believe his luck as he makes the short trip down the outside lane of an empty highway to put France back into the lead.

The conversion isn’t quite there, but what a shame for Italy to spoil an otherwise excellent start.

France 3-7 Italy, 24 minutes

15:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The first bit of attacking inaccuracy from Italy, losing track of their runners in midfield and a distributor leaving a pass betwixt and between. France hack the ball deep into Italian territory and a strong chase forces a scrambled clearance to about 25 metres out. Can France make this chance in the Italian half count?

Cyril Baille’s famous open-field footwork take him past one tackler as he tries to make a telling carry. Prop partner Uini Atonio is up next – the behemoth tighthead has to stoop to take the pass, though, and any head of steam he had built up on the rumble is nullified, and Italy force him to hold on. Penalty Italy.

France 3-7 Italy, 22 minutes

15:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Ooph! That’s delicious. A driven Melvyn Jaminet kick spirals like a missile through the Paris air and thumps into the surface, skipping across and into the Italian 22. The 50:22 law, introduced at the start of the year, means that will be a French throw at the lineout as it canters out of play.

Or not! TMO Brett Conan has spotted a push off the ball from Gabin Villiere as he chased after the previous French kick so Italy will have a penalty. A shame that a bit of supreme skill from Jaminet goes unrewarded.

France 3-7 Italy, 21 minutes

15:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy enter at the side of the maul formed at the next lineout, though, and the home crowd give a hearty cheer as Melvyn Jaminet kicks France into the Italian 22.

Cameron Woki can’t quite gather the lineout, and France’s messy attack continues as the ball then squirms free from the next carrier. Monty Ioane makes ten metres with an all-action weave down the right.

France 3-7 Italy, 19 minutes

15:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It’s been a great opening quarter from Italy. They just about smother the restart after it initially lands on open turf and are able to kcik away. Damian Penaud charges back onwards the chasing blue shirts but is tackled, and Antoine Dupont soon puts up another of those high box kicks.

This time Garbisi settles himself beneath it and calls the mark. He kicks out to about halfway.

TRY! France 3-7 ITALY (Tommaso Menoncello try, 17 minutes)

15:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This is mighty, mighty tight. There’s a gnat’s hair in it as Menoncello’s studs come down within millimetres of the right touchline. Has he stayed infield? It’s almost impossible to call. The on-field decision is try…

Not in touch! Menoncello has grounded cleanly – this will count! Italy lead! A dream start to his international career for the 19-year-old wing and the visitors take a not underserved advantage, extended by Paolo Garbisi’s outstanding curving conversion.

France 3-0 Italy, 16 minutes

15:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Knocked on by Melvyn Jaminet in the air and Italy are in behind! The loose ball is gathered and Italy have a perfect attacking platform five metres out…

Kicked across by Paolo Garbisi, has Tommaso Menoncello gathered that and grounded infield? We’ll need to have a look upstairs…

France 3-0 Italy, 15 minutes

15:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

“White, white, white, collapse,” is the call from the assistant, and Uini Atonio is duly penalised at scrum-time. It looked like Atonio got a little bit low on set-up and failed to hold his feet as he tried to drive through on the damp Stade de France surface. 31 tackles with just one miss from Italy so far – solid stuff.

France 3-0 Italy, 14 minutes

15:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

So strong in fact that France lose patience with the toiling and send something skywards. It lands inside the 22 but Paolo Garbisi does not call a mark, trying instead to sidestep Damian Penaud but clung on to by the long-limbed wing. Italy’s desperate attempts to clear the ruck sees them lose it forward on the floor. France scrum 30 metres out about ten metres in from the right touchline.

France 3-0 Italy, 13 minutes

15:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Julien Marchand hits Gregory Alldritt at the front and France form a maul. Italy defend it nicely, and France make little progress. To midfield, and Jonathan Danty is biffed backwards after an initially shimmy. Strong start from this Italian defensive unit.

France 3-0 Italy, 12 minutes

15:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And that was always coming. Another healthy shove from France, and Mike Adamson whistles the penalty their way. Tiziano Pasquali buckled by Cyril Baille.

France 3-0 Italy, 11 minutes

15:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Halafihi is then employed from the base of a fake maul, shipping the ball on to the forthright Marco Zanon, who again wins his collision. A firm shunt from Sebastian Negri keeps the momentum going but a slightly untidy ruck squirts the ball free, and Stephen Varney fails to pick-up the mess. Knock-on, France scrum.

France 3-0 Italy, 10 minutes

15:13 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Strong defence from Italy. Gregory Alldritt is isolated as he takes a short line from Antoine Dupont, and Toa Halafihi’s first prominent intervention on debut is to win a turnover penalty.

France 3-0 Italy, 9 minutes

15:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France send the Italian eight into reverse but scrum-half Stephen Varney plucks the ball out and allows his side to clear.

Gabin Villiere produces a Matrix-esque dodge beneath a leaping Tommaso Menoncello as he claims the kick, and France immediately go back to the air. That’s very good from Edoardo Padovani – one of a limited number of Italians with real experience, and he shows all his nous by just waiting to time his leap appropriately and claim a potentially troublesome high bomb.

France 3-0 Italy, 7 minutes

15:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The French scrum is anchored by the enormous Uini Atonio and predictably stable. Damian Penaud is thrust into midfield off the blindside wing and is over the gain line, developing quick ball. Opportunities appear as France then whisk the ball wide, and a stab through over the slippery surface just evades an onrushing Gabin Villiere with chalk on his boots sliding for the corner. Nearly. Villiere spills forward into touch and Italy will have the scrum.

France 3-0 Italy, 6 minutes

15:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Man alive that is a thump! France absolutely hammer a long punt towards Paolo Garbisi, who is forced in to an unexpected retreat, like a boundary fielder who has rushed in too early. Garbisi drops it. France scrum near the Italian 22.

PENALTY! FRANCE 3-0 Italy (Melvyn Jaminet penalty, 5 minutes)

15:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A banker for a man emerging as one of the most reliable kickers from the tee in Europe. A confident early strike from Jaminet and the hosts are underway.

France 0-0 Italy, 4 minutes

15:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Dupont is tackled firmly but Italy are wandering free before the ball is out of the resulting ruck. Offside, penalty to France, and a first shot at goal for Melvyn Jaminet from 35 out, right in front.

France 0-0 Italy, 3 minutes

15:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another solid set-piece from Italy but France’s rush defence is in good early working order, twice thumping Italy back and forcing them to the boot.

Melvyn Jaminet’s first touch is a fine one – a rock-solid high claim under serious pressure. France clear.

Italy’s attempt at a long riposte clips a French hand and tumbles into the hands of Antoine Dupont inside the Italy half.

France 0-0 Italy, 2 minutes

15:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

But Cyril Baille is then picked out for a breakdown offence and Italy will kick the penalty back down into the French half.

France 0-0 Italy, 1 minute

15:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A solid opening clearance from France. Italy will have first attacking ball near the ten-metre.

Efficient throw and transfer to the scrum-half, and Marco Zanon carries well in midfield. Centre partner Ignacio Brex then threatens to stride through, but France cling on and then jar the ball free, Jonathan Danty getting his frame upon it to win the ball back France’s way.

Damian Penaud arrives with ideal timing to clatter Monty Ioane as he claims a Antoine Dupont box kick.

KICK OFF!

15:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Paolo Garbisi hoists high and France vs Italy is underway!

Here we go

15:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Gael Fickou frowns as he figures out where to stand to receive Italy’s opening kick-off. And the ball is brought on by a little car! Good to see it back in work after its starring role at Euro 2020.

La Marseillaise

15:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle

The French players don’t need to be in quite such fine voice, helped as they are by the home support, who rather tunefully drown out the accompanying music. Among those singing along is French rugby supremo Bernard Laporte.

Another fine rendition to tee us up for the last game of the opening weekend.

Il Canto degli Italiani

14:59 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Tiziano Pasquali is among a number of Italians who hold their hand to their chest as they join in with the national anthem, captain Michele Lamaro clasping his fist and closing his eyes as he barks to the heavens.

They end with an appropriately meaty roar. Ever a pleasure, Il Canto degli Italiani.

Rugby Against Racism

14:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Warm applause from the crowd as the French players remain in a huddle to recognise rugby against racism.

France vs Italy

14:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Judging by the way the Tricolores held by home fans are blowing in the Stade de France stands, it is properly blustery in Paris. Italy get the knock on the door and begin to make their way down the tunnel, opposite France in their fetching white zip-jackets.

Scotland’s Mike Adamson is the referee with Brett Conan of Australia in the TMO truck. Adamson caught some flak for his management of Harlequins vs Castres a couple of weeks ago – he’ll be hoping for a slightly easier afternoon.

The @FranceRugby fans are out in full force 🇫🇷#FRAvITA #GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/r78ddPPITR

— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 6, 2022

Speaking of colours

14:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy will be in blue and France in white today, if you were wondering.

The new France captain

14:51 , Harry Latham-Coyle

I’ve waited until uncomfortably close to kick-off to share this, but given this is Antoine Dupont’s first time as captain in the Six Nations, it would be remiss of me not to pass on this image of the magical nine in a banana bathrobe that graced the cover of the French edition of GQ in January. Pulling it off?

Élu meilleur joueur de rugby du monde en décembre 2021, @Dupont9A est en couverture de notre premier numéro @GQSports, photographié par Thibault-Théodore en @BALENCIAGA couture — disponible dès demain.

Head of Editorial Content: @pam_boy #GQFrance #Balenciaga #GQSports pic.twitter.com/FTnOMs7aDK

— GQ France (@GQ_France) January 24, 2022

The rain comes down

14:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle

It sounds like it has been raining all day in Paris, and Kieran Crowley was delivering those comments from beneath a rather large hood. I don’t think it will necessarily affect France’s ambition but a greasy ball could cause some issues.

Hope for Italy?

14:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Italy are the longest of Six Nations long shots this afternoon, but it is worth remembering how many of this French side were in isolation until last Sunday – might that impact their cohesion in attack and keep Italy in it? Kieran Crowley’s side have suggested that they have been consulting with South Africa head coach and defensive guru Jacques Nienaber to develop a new strategy, and managed to frustrate New Zealand for half-an-hour in the autumn, and a 47-9 final margin wasn’t the worst.

“We are new into it in terms of how we want to play the game,” Crowley says ahead of kick-off. “We have prepared well for this game but we are up against a massive French team that is probably one of the best in the world right now. It is a huge challenge for us.

“The positive thing about young players is that they don’t have any fear. We need to get front five parity. We have got to be competitive in the physical battle.”

New man at the helm

14:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle

With Fabien Galthie in isolation, Raphael Ibanez leads the French coaching team today. He’s been having a wander about a damp Stade de France and a chat with his team. Galthie, for what it is worth, has “full confidence” in the rest of his staff – you’d say this isn’t the worst fixture for the head coach to miss.

France vs Italy LIVE: Latest rugby score and Six Nations updates from Stade de France
© Provided by The Independent (AFP via Getty Images)

Player to Watch – Cameron Woki

14:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle

One of the stories of the autumn was the reinvention of Cameron Woki in the French second row. An age-group star and try-scorer as France lifted the U20 World Championship on home soil in 2018, Woki’s rounded game had seen him push for more consistent opportunities since making his senior debut in 2020 but found space in a crowded French back-row competition.

Having impressed from the flank as a second-string French side pushed Australia close last summer, Fabien Galthie and his staff recognised a need to accommodate a player of unique lineout talent in their side. While Woki remains underweight as a top-level lock, the presence of the gargantuan Paul Willemse alongside him offsets his smaller stature and affords France, in essence, a fourth back-rower in their starting forward unit. Woki was very, very good against New Zealand, and though Galthie suggested he may be looked at again in the back row he remains alongside Willemse for the Six Nations opener.

“He’d definitely have to be the best jumper I’ve ever seen,” Bordeaux’s Kane Douglas said of his teammate’s talents on the excellent French Rugby Podcast. “Maybe there are guys who can read a lineout better but he is so springy and you can just throw him.

“I’ve seen at training, the hooker has thrown the ball to the back of the lineout, Woki was at the front and he just hit it on its way there. You can throw him, he’s so light and springy with long arms.”

Du bleu dans les tripes 🇫🇷#NeFaisonsXV @francerugby pic.twitter.com/pqJCMHd03N

— Cameron Woki (@cameronwoki) November 7, 2021

Player to Watch – Toa Halafihi

14:26 , Harry Latham-Coyle

A limited player pool means that Italy are forced to explore more often than most alternative routes of qualification to deepen and improve their squad. Kieran Crowley has sounded out Italian-qualified Alex Lozowski, Paolo Odogwu and Louis Lynagh about potentially switching allegiance – the ever-underrated Lozowski is perhaps the likeliest after falling down the England pecking order, but the Saracens back is yet to be convinced.

The other route of qualification is residenc. After a prominent debut tournament for Monty Ioane 12 months ago, Italy can now deploy another Benetton recruit plucked from New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup. Toa Halafihi was a reliable stalwart of a succession of strong Waikato sides, a reliable, strong ball-carrier blessed with subtle handling skill. His arrival is timely with the unfortunate Jake Polledri still absent after a serious knee injury, allowing Crowley to shift captain Michele Lamaro to his favoured spot on the flank. They will lead Italy’s attempts to counter France’s rounded, interchangeable trio – if Italy are to have any hope of stalling the French charge then Halafihi and Lamaro will have to stand up.

France vs Italy LIVE: Latest rugby score and Six Nations updates from Stade de France
© Provided by The Independent (Getty Images)

Player to Watch – Paolo Garbisi

14:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Kieran Crowley has emphasised a need for more Italians to ply their trade outside of their homeland, with just two top-level teams meaning starting places are exceptionally limited within the bounds of the Italian domestic professional structure. Certainly the form of both Paolo Garbisi and Federico Mori, a surprise exclusion from today’s squad, in the Top 14 after summer moves to Montpellier and Bordeaux respectively will encourage the Italy head coach that his players can make an impact overseas.

In Garbisi, Italy appear to have the fly-half they have been seeking for so long; now they must build a structure around him in which he can flourish. He will have to take on great responsibility as the leader of an exceptionally young group of tens (Garbisi provides all 13 of their international caps, but Italy have creative and potent carriers throughout the backline to test the Shaun Edwards drilled French defence. The result is not in doubt but for an Italian side of potential seeking progress, a positive performance from Garbisi will be a key goal.

Ominous

14:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle

23 – @FranceRugby have won 23 of their 24 home games against Italy in Test rugby, including their last 14 in a row, the Azzurri’s only victory in France coming in Grenoble in March 1997. Mountainous.

— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) February 6, 2022

Player to Watch – Melvyn Jaminet

14:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle

This time last year, Melvyn Jaminet was a 21-year-old cut from the Toulon academy because he was too small who had never played a game in the Top 14, plying his trade for second-tier Perpignan and some way from Six Nations reckoning. Now the full-back looks like French rugby’s next big thing

With France shorn of much of their first-choice side, Jaminet was plucked from Pro D2 to join that Australia tour and had a breakthrough three tests. A metronomic kicker from the tee with deceptive, easy speed, Jaminet has taken to international rugby with ease, retaining his place for the autumn and continuing to impress after his club’s promotion to the Top 14. Having slotted 34 of his 37 kicks will retain lead goal-kicking duties ahead of Romain Ntamack, who he is expected to join at Toulouse next season. While Jaminet’s budding stardom went a little bit under-the-radar in the autumn, this tournament could be his step into the spotlight.

France vs Italy LIVE: Latest rugby score and Six Nations updates from Stade de France
© Provided by The Independent (Getty Images)

Toss time

14:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle

🪙 Le toss vient d’être effectué au @StadeFrance et c’est l’Itaie qui donnera le coup d’envoi ! #FRAITA #XVdeFrance #NeFaisonsXV pic.twitter.com/CjOPS5kNlt

— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) February 6, 2022

As for Tommaso Allan

14:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Another familiar Italian face missing is Tommaso Allan, who has reportedly turned down a call-up to remain at Harlequins. The fly-half has had a season of strong performances disrupted by a couple of concussions and other injury issues, and is having a slightly tough afternoon today – Harlequins trail Sale (29-7) at the Stoop.

In better news for Eddie Jones, Manu Tuilagi has just made his first appearance for a couple of months in a Sale shirt and properly thumped the similarly sizeable Andre Esterhuizen with a proper tackle. England are updating their squad on Tuesday – will Tuilagi be back amongst things?

Sergio Parisse absent…for now

14:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle

If you are wondering quite what is occurring with Sergio Parisse’s international career, the man who was for so long the Italian talisman has declared himself available for the Six Nations for a potential farewell with the Azzurri. As you may recall, the number eight was initially due to bow out after the 2019 World Cup but had his last appearance cancelled by Typhoon Hagibis, and hopes for a belated Six Nations goodbye have been pushed back by the pandemic.

Kieran Crowley has said he will consider Parisse if he can prove his form and fitness at Toulon, with a niggling injury ruling the veteran out of yesterday’s surprise defeat to Castres. Watch this space.

Team News – Italy

14:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Kieran Crowley hands out two debuts from the start in his first Six Nations game in charge of Italy. Back-row Toa Halafihi has served the required residency after arriving from New Zealand and adds yet more skill at the back of the scrum to Italy’s area of depth, while 19-year-old Tommaso Menoncello’s potential is recognised as he gets the nod ahead of more experienced faces on the wing.

In all, 12 of the starting XV are drawn from Crowley’s old side Benetton. Paolo Garbisi was also until this year stationed in Treviso, but a move to Montpellier has allowed him further chances to flourish and Italy must now build around their great fly-half hope. Gloucester’s Stephen Varney partners him in the halves; Tiziano Pasquali, once of Leicester, starts for the first time since 2019 on the tighthead.

There are two more uncapped faces on the bench, which shows a 6-2 forwards-to-backs split: flanker Manuel Zuliani is a solid all-around operator and Leonardo Marin an extremely talented, if still raw, teenage ten.

Italy XV: Padovani; Menoncello, Brex, Zanon, Ioane; Garbisi, Varney; Fischetti, Lucchesi, Pasquali; Cannone, Ruzza; Negri, Lamaro, Halafihi.

Replacements: Faiva, Nemer, Zilocchi, Fuser, Pettinelli, Zuliani; Braley, Marin.

🔵#Italrugby

Il XV in campo domenica 6/2 per il primo turno del @SixNationsRugby 2022 ➡ https://t.co/UwpkS1JwUT

🏉 Kick off ore 16

📺 @SkySport Arena ▪ #SkySport 1 ▪ @TV8it #FRAvITA#insieme #rugbypassioneitaliana pic.twitter.com/QtPjSK81as

— Italrugby (@Federugby) February 4, 2022

Team News – France

14:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Having had 14 players in isolation until last Sunday, France would have feared a severely disrupted start to the tournament, but a first-choice 23 has been given a clean bill of health in the last round of Covid testing. It is a strong side building upon the successes of last year, with 13 starters from the autumn zenith against New Zealand retained for the Six Nations opener.

The two changes come in the pack, where a fit-again Julien Marchand starts at hooker and Dylan Cretin is preferred to Anthony Jelonch, with captain Charles Ollivon a long-term absentee with a knee injury. Cameron Woki’s second row reinvention was an autumn revelation – he and partner Paul Willemse are very different players, but combine nicely.

Behind the scrum, Antoine Dupont was among those isolating a week ago but is named to lead France despite playing only sparingly since the end of the autumn. Jonathan Danty lends his considerable carrying prowess outside Romain Ntamack, who is also fit to play after a positive Covid test.

The fly-half’s impressive deputy Mathieu Jalibert is perhaps still a week away after a thigh issue, meaning the versatile Thomas Ramos, who has at times displaced Ntamack to inside centre at Toulouse, will provide 10 and 15 cover from the bench.

France XV:Jaminet; Penaud, Fickou, Danty, Villiere; Ntamack, Dupont (capt); Baille, Marchand, Atonio; Woki, Willemse; Jelonch, Cretin, Alldritt.

Replacements: Mauvaka, Gros, Bamba, Taofifenua, Cros; Lucu, Moefana, Ramos.

🇫🇷🆚🇮🇹 𝐕𝐨𝐭𝐫𝐞 𝐗𝐕 𝐝𝐞 𝐝𝐞́𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 !

Dimanche 16h au @StadeFrance, coup d’envoi du Tournoi des #SixNations 2022 du #XVdeFrance !

Les derniers billets 🎟️👉 https://t.co/RMWPEws6XC#NeFaisonsXV pic.twitter.com/3WTRt1dyNr

— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) February 4, 2022

France vs Italy

14:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle

There’s plenty more across The Independent on both of yesterday’s games, so do have a gander at all of that, but we are going to switch our focus more fully to affairs in France, where kick-off is not too far away. Let’s take a look at the two teams.

The Independent’s Six Nations Newsletter

13:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle

Remember that you can sign up to The Independent’s Six Nations Newsletter for all the action and reaction from every weekend of the championship, landing in your inbox every Monday. Sign up for free below!

France vs Italy LIVE: Latest rugby score and Six Nations updates from Stade de France
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Luke Cowan-Dickie apologises

13:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle

You feel for Luke Cowan-Dickie, who looked entirely out-of-place contesting a high ball as the end man on the English defensive line. The England hooker has apologised after his transgression cost England at Murrayfield.

France vs Italy LIVE: Latest rugby score and Six Nations updates from Stade de France
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Luke Cowan-Dickie apologises to England fans over match-changing penalty try

Scotland hold on to battling win against England

13:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle

And then it was on to Murrayfield for the Calcutta Cup. Having been unable to make territorial dominance count, England ceded a late lead after Luke Cowan-Dickie’s deliberate knock-on saw the hooker sin-binned and Scotland awarded a penalty try – and Gregor Townsend’s side clung on through a succession of scrums at the death to hold firm for victory.

France vs Italy LIVE: Latest rugby score and Six Nations updates from Stade de France
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Scotland cling on to beat England and retain Calcutta Cup in tense Six Nations battle

About yesterday

13:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle

On the day that crowds were finally allowed back into Six Nations stadia for the first time in 23 months, action got underway in Dublin, where Ireland dismissed Wales:

France vs Italy LIVE: Latest rugby score and Six Nations updates from Stade de France
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Ireland see off depleted champions Wales to make winning start to Six Nations

France vs Italy

13:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle

After an opening day on the British Isles, the Six Nations turns to the continent to conclude its opening weekend with Italy in Paris to face the fancied French. Having seen Ireland lay down a significant statement against Wales, France will be desperate to do similar against the perennial wooden spooners, whose young squad look set to endure another campaign at the bottom.

Kick-off at the Stade de France is about an hour and a half away…

Bienvenue chez 𝐕𝐎𝐔𝐒 🏟️🇫🇷#NeFaisonsXV #FRAITA #XVdeFrance pic.twitter.com/xstuZfeQVY

— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) February 6, 2022

France vs Italy

13:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle

France’s build-up has been troubled by a series of Covid-related issues, and there was more bad news on Friday as Fabien Galthie tested positive. The French head coach will be watching on through his spectacles from isolation while Raphael Ibanez assumes temporary charge of a squad that, thankfully, got the all-clear after a final round of testing yesterday:

France vs Italy LIVE: Latest rugby score and Six Nations updates from Stade de France
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France head coach Fabien Galthie out of Italy clash after positive Covid test

France vs Italy

12:47 , Jamie Braidwood

Follow live updates as France host Italy in the final Six Nations fixture of the opening weekend. Hopes will be high in Paris as Les Blues open their campaign as tournament favourites and with real belief that they can win the title for the first time since 2010. Victory over New Zealand during the Autumn Nations Series at a raucous Stade de France was the latest example that this team is ready to deliver a championship, with Romain Ntamack and Antoine Dupont playing starring roles in Fabien Galthie’s side.

The France head coach will be absent for his team’s opening fixture after testing positive for Covid, but the hosts remain overwhelming favourites as they welcome their continental rivals Italy. The Italians are odds-on to finish with the wooden spoon once again and have not won a Six Nations fixture since 2015. Anything other than France joining Scotland and Ireland at the top of the table would be a seismic shock, following wins over England and Wales respectively on the opening day of the tournament on Saturday.

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