Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Six Nations: Weight of history against shock Italian win in Rome

To say it would a surprise were Italy to beat France tomorrow afternoon in Rome amounts to a massive understatement.

Italy and France have faced each other on 32 previous occasions, with the French having won all but once.

Italy's only victory over their neighbours was in 1997 when they won a match played in Grenoble.

This particular fixture can be viewed as a one-off competition for tomorrow’s winners will be presented with the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy.

The likelihood is that the French will be lifting it, just as they have each season since 2007 when it was first awarded.

Only three times since entering the Championship in 2000 have the Italians managed to avoid finishing bottom. Eight times they have come in sixth.

In the same 11-seasons run the French’s worst finishing position has been fifth (2001). Five times since 2000 they have been champions with that including three Grand Slams.

Twice they have been runners-up and thrice they were third.

Italy: A Masi (Racing Metro); T Benvenuti (Treviso), G Canale (Clermont Auvergne), G Garcia (Treviso), Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais); L Orquera (Brive), F Semenzato (Treviso); A Lo Cicero (Racing Metro), C Festuccia (Racing Metro), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester), S Dellape (Racing Metro), C Del Fava (Aironi), A Zanni (Treviso), R Barbieri (Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais). Replacements: L Ghiraldini (Treviso), S Perugini (Aironi), Q Geldenhuys (Aironi), P Derbyshire (Treviso), P Canavosio (Aironi), K Burton (Treviso), L McLean (Treviso).

FRANCE: M Médard (Toulouse); Y Huget (Bayonne), A Rougerie (Clermont Auvergne), Y Jauzion (Toulouse), V Clerc (Toulouse); F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), M Parra (Clermont); S Marconnet (Stade Français), W Servat (Toulouse), N Mas (Perpignan), J Pierre (Castres), L Nallet (Racing Métro), T Dusautoir (Toulouse, captain), J Bonnaire (Clermont), S Chabal (Racing). Replacements: G Guirado (Perpignan), L Ducalcon (Castres), J Thion (Toulouse), I Harinordoquy (Toulouse), J Tomas (Montpellier), D Traille (Biarritz), C Poitrenaud (Toulouse).