Six Nations: Italy v France as it happened

Italy stun France 23-18 in their opening Six Nations match at the Stadio Olimpico.

3 February 2013 Last updated at 19:35 GMT

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As it happened

  1. 1731: 

    The Red Button programme has finished, which also brings an end to our coverage. Thanks for all your tweets and texts. Join us next week for round two of what promises to be another cracking Six Nations weekend.


    France coach Philippe Saint-Andre on BBC Sport:

    "I want to congratulate Italy. They played with a lot of passion. We had opportunities to score, but we lost too many balls.

    "We have to be very focused to play well against Wales at the Stade de France next week. They [France] are very, very disappointed. We prepared well. We need to realise that the Italians are improving year by year. They [Italy] were unlucky to lose to Australia.

    "It's frustrating when you have control, but we made too many mistakes. We need to show a better match than today next week. We respect Wales, but we need to win. It's not acceptable to lose at home."

    BBC Sport's Jeremy Guscott at the Stadio Olimpico

    "All three winners have a chance. England in Dublin? They're not expected to win the game."

  4. 1717: 

    The Six Nations discussion is continuing on the BBC Red Button. Tune in.

    BBC Sport's Keith Wood at the Stadio Olimpico, BBC Sport

    "Frederic Michalak is so sublimely talented, but also flaky. He's not a number 10."


    Boatman via text on 81111: "Its weekends like this I wish I was in the pub! Brilliant rugby from all games, and what a day for Italy!"

  7. 1712: 

    Italy captain Sergio Parisse on BBC Sport:

    "It was a very important game. We are very happy with the victory. We talked about our ambition as team before the Six Nations. We beat France, who played very well in November. We will enjoy this win.

    "I'm happy to score, but it was really good day for the whole team. We defended really well. If the French scored a try in the last minute we would have been really disappointed because we deserved that victory."

  8. 1708: 

    Italy's Martin Castrogiovanni on BBC Sport:

    "We can't start the tournament better than this. We repeated what we did two years ago. We still have another four games and I hope we play like that again. If we do we, can have a chance against any team.

    "We had a perfect first 20 minutes. We came back in last 40. Maybe we didn't attack too much, but the defence today was unbelievable. To lose a man is not the way to end the game, with just seven men in the scrum."


    Sam Gregory on Twitter: "Wales have to go to Rome and Murrayfield... Has any team ever gone from grand slam to wooden spoon?"

    Bhavul Haria on Twitter: "What an opening weekend of the Six Nations. Illustrates why it's the best rugby competition in the world, bar none."

    Have your say on a phenomenal Six Nations weekend on Twitter using #bbcrugby

    Former Italy captain Marco Bortolami at the Stadio Olimpico

    "What a great win. We deserved that. We played better in the first half and held on in the second half. We struggled with discipline towards the end, but what a win. Their [France's] body language was a disaster. They were here, but didn't know how to win this game. It was big game for Italy. Next week, we travel to Scotland, so who knows."

    Ex-France back Thomas Castaignede at the Stadio Olimpico

    "They deserved the win. They played with panache and were much better than us. We didn't win the one-on-ones."

    BBC Sport's Jonathan Davies at the Stadio Olimpico

    "They were loose in the second half, but they ground out a famous, famous victory. It was a great result for the Italians. This really sets out the Six Nations."

    FULL-TIME- Italy 23-18

    France winger Fall is bundled into touch to stop a desperate French assault and Italy win! What a dramatic finish to a marvellous game. That's only their third win against France and their second in the Six Nations. The noise in the Stadio Olimpico is astounding. Italy have won big games before but they've always relied on shutting down the opposition as much as going out and winning the game - but not this time. They were the better team all over the park and although they had to defend for an agonising last few minutes, they were deserved winners. Forza Italia, voi bellezze!

  14. 80 mins: 
    Italy 23-18 France

    Can France win a penalty try or drive their way over, or will they spin it as Italy have taken a back off to bring on a replacement prop. France win a penalty at the first scrum. We go again.

  15. 79 mins: 
    Italy 23-18 France

    France battering away, eight metres out now. Italy defending like dervishes, but they concede a penalty. No point kicking it. Yellow card for Italy prop Davide Giazzon. Big moment as France go for the scrum. This is the game right here.

  16. 78 mins: 
    Italy 23-18 France

    Awesome turnover from Livorno-born Paul Derbyshire, but France turn it back over and here they come. Inside the 22 now.

  17. 75 mins: 
    Italy 23-18 France

    Italy infringe, France clear from the penalty, they'll have to go from their own half though. Tense.

  18. 74 mins: 
    Italy 23-18 France

    Dazzling break from Venditti inside his own 22. Sweet hands from the likes of Parisse take them to win inches of the France 22 and now they hammer away around the fringes. Whistle goes, Italy put-in - drop-goal chance?

  19. 73 mins: 
    Italy 23-18 France

    Scrum penalty to France, they'll have an attacking line-out midway inside the Italy half.

  20. 72 mins: 
    Italy 23-18 France

    Italy captain Parisse leads from the front, scragging Huget deep inside the France half after a kick ahead. "There's nothing happening from France - this is a game that's there for winning," says Jiffy. "It doesn't look like the French can break them down." If you lose, Italian fans, blame him for invoking the commentator's curse.

  21. 70 mins: 
    Italy 23-18 France

    I don't want to jinx Italy but they're right on top now and a third win over France is within their reach. Cool heads, pin the French back, defend like tigers and they'll be dancing in the streets of Rome tonight.

  22. 68 mins: 
    DROP-GOAL Burton- Italy 23-18 France

    Bastareaud, all 18 stone of him, gets his first touch but a kick ahead from Mermoz comes to nothing and Italy are back inside the French half. Ghiraldini hammers on and Burton drops a long-range goal for Italy!

  23. 64 mins: 
    Italy 20-18 France

    That cup of tea can wait you know. France are trying to lift their game but now it is Italy producing defence that even Rahul 'The Wall' Dravid would have been proud of. France decide a turbo-charged battering ram is required in the centres, fortunately they have the mighty Mathieu Bastareaud to bring off the bench. Italy also make a change, Orquera somewhat surprisingly replaced by Kris Burton.

  24. 57 mins: 
    TRY Castrogiovanni, Con Orquera- Italy 20-18 France

    The game explodes back into life again! Oh we've got a belter here.

    France scrum-half Maxime Machenaud makes a superb break up the blind-side and it looks as though Les Bleus might secure the vital score, but he is pulled down 10m out, the ball spills loose and Italy counter.

    Parisse makes 50m and although he is brought to ground they spin it right and Giovanbattista Venditti makes good ground down the right. France hold out and as Italy dwell at the ruck it seems as though the chance has gone, but the diminutive Orquera snipes one out at the ruck, gets his arms free despite the attentions of two giant French forwards, and Leicester Tiger Castrogiovanni is on hand to barrel over. Orquera converts - he's making the odd mistake, but what a game he's having.

  25. 56 mins: 
    Italy 13-18 France

    Right, we're getting into the guts of the game now, and both sides are bringing on replacements, with Italy introducing two thirds of a new front row.

  26. 52 mins: 
    Italy 13-18 France

    An obvious block by Ghiraldini gives Michalak another shot at goal, but from 48 metres he falls short. No Gallic shrug in evidence from the Toulon player, I shall hide my disappointment behind a stiff upper lip.

  27. 50 mins: 
    PENALTY Michalak- Italy 13-18 France

    The scrums have been very good today so far but one collapses as Andrea Lo Cicero fails to bind. Michalak expends no excess energy as his 40m effort clears the bar by two metres or so. Gallic insouciance at its best.

  28. 49 mins: 
    Italy 13-15 France

    France's line-out is falling apart and Italy again get the chance to attack. There's plenty of huff and puff from the hosts but there's very little sizzle and France turn it over. Number eight Picamoles rumbles forward, and shows he'd really rather be a back with a bit of a goose-step, but his inside pass drifts forwards. France looking content to back their defence and rely on the counter-attack at the moment.

  29. 45 mins: 
    Italy 13-15 France

    Bit of a break in play as hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini is put back together. The medics must have done a good job as the scrum is rock solid and Italy give it a crack off the base. Orquera gets them moving forwards but after making it midway inside the French half the visiting defence gets on top, and after half a dozen phases the move grinds to a halt.

  30. 43 mins: 
    Italy 13-15 France

    France knock-on from a laboured attack, Italy put-in five metres inside the visitors' half. Good attacking position...

  31. 41 mins: 
    Italy 13-15 France

    "Have patience," Jonathan Davies advises Italy. They restart well but infringe after managing to secure possession. However, Michalak makes a bad mistake for France, failing to find touch with the penalty, and Italy clear their lines.

    Former Italy captain Marco Bortolami at the Stadio Olimpico

    "It's important to regroup and refresh, and be as clinical as we were in first 30 minutes. We had the ball and know how dangerous France are when they have the ball in their hands. France are doing just enough to be in the game. I'm not sure if they really want to win it - who knows what might happen in the last 20 minutes."

  33. 1600: 

    Right then, five halves of superb rugby so far, is it too much to hope for six out of six on the first weekend of the 2013 Six Nations? France were starting to fizz towards the end of the first half - can they keep it up?


    Andy MacNab on Twitter: "Allez Le Bleus - normal service resumed by France.. Looked anxious so far, so this may calm them down."

    A French cruise? Get involved on Twitter using #bbcrugby

    Ex-France back Thomas Castaignede at the Stadio Olimpico

    "I was worried in the first 25 minutes. The team that had the ball in hand looked dangerous. We managed to come back into the game."

    Former Ireland international Keith Wood at the Stadio Olimpico

    "The standard of the first weekend of matches has been incredible. The accuracy has been incredible. There's a huge buzz in this stadium."

    BBC Sport's Jonathan Davies at the Stadio Olimpico, BBC Sport

    "Italy just got a little looser as the first half progressed. A great first half of rugby and a great second half coming up."

  38. HT: 
    Italy 13-15 France

    Well we had two classics yesterday, and we're well on the way to another one in Rome. Both sides are chucking it about but France have weathered the early storm and look as though they're taking control.

  39. 39 mins: 

    "Italy are under pressure but a lot of it is their own doing," says Wales legend Jiffy on BBC One."

  40. 38 mins: 
    Italy 13-15 France

    Oh, big chance for France goes begging. Clermont centre Fofana, playing out of position on the wing for France, goes searing through a gap inside his own 22 and races into the Italy half. Fulgence Ouedraogo ranges up in support and Fofana draws Masi, but his pass to Ouedraogo drifts forwards and the blind-side cannot take it at full-stretch.

  41. 33 mins: 
    TRY Fall, con Michalak- Italy 13-15 France

    France roll back the years with a try that the likes of Philippe Sella and Serge Blanco would have been proud of.

    Crisp passing skips the ball down the line, full-back Huget slices through and feeds inside to the support. Blind-side winger Fall has tracked across from the flank and he takes an inside pass before showing great pace to escape the cover before jogging round under the posts. Champagne rugby.

    Former Italy captain Marco Bortolami tells BBC Sport:

    "The lineout is very important for Italy. Orquera is playing well. He knows when to kick, but he's playing too deep."

  43. 28 mins: 
    Italy 13-8 France

    France need to come away with points and when they are awarded a penalty in front of the posts, Michalak pops it over with the minimum of fuss. Punch, counter-punch at the moment, can either side find a knockout blow?

  44. 26 mins: 
    Italy 13-5 France

    Zut alors! Brilliant attack from the French. Maxime Mermoz makes a half-break, Yoann Huget is on his shoulder, and although he is held the rest of the French backs pile in and drive him over. It looks as though he was held up on his back but the TMO will decide... And the decision is, no try. Whistles from the French fans, cheers from the Italians...


    Charlie in Leamington via text on 81111: "If Italy's talent matched their passion they'd have been unbeaten for the last 10 years at least!"

  46. 25 mins: 
    Italy 13-5 France

    France spin it wide and Benjamin Fall briefly looks like escaping down the left, but Andre Masi of Wasps pulls off a fine covering tackle.

  47. 23 mins: 
    Italy 13-5 France

    Finally a bit of a lull, but it's only temporary. A France attack breaks down and Italy can clear, but it's straight into touch and France have a line-out throw inside the Italy 22. Good attacking position this.

  48. 20 mins:  
    BBC Sport's Jonathan Davies at the Stadio Olimpico, BBC Sport

    "Everything that Orquera is doing is coming off."

  49. 18 mins: 
    PENALTY Orquera- Italy 13-5 France

    Italy snap another jab into the French face, Orquera pinging over a penalty to give the hosts an eight point lead. Superb game and Orquera's on fire.


    Dave Britton on Twitter: "Sergio Parisse is the Sir Kevin Sinfield of Italian rugby. There is no higher praise than that!"

    Alex Oldfield on Twitter: "Italy taking an early lead, I doubt anyone saw that coming.... Could be an upset on the cards... Got to love the Six Nations"

    Is a repeat of 2011 on the cards? Tweet us at #bbcrugby

  51. 14 mins: 
    DROP-GOAL Orquera- Italy 10-5 France

    This is turning into a classic, the two sides going toe to toe and trading blows at will. Italy hammer into the France 22 and when the ball comes back Orquera flicks out a jab, his drop-goal nudging Italy further ahead on points.

  52. 11 mins: 
    TRY Picamoles, Michalak missed Con- Italy 7-5 France

    The two number eights are fighting a private battle and the visitors hit back in style. Parisse puts in a big tackle to drive Picamoles backwards after he bursts off a scrum. France sweep across to the right wing and go close and although the Italy defence holds out, when the visitors spin the ball back to the left Picamoles this time powers through Parisse's tackle to score.

  53. 9 mins: 
    Italy 7-0 France

    France immediately go back on the attack and a hanging kick produces panic in the Italian in-goal area, but the hosts escape as the ball bounces back off Welsey Fofana's shoulder.

  54. 4 mins: 
    TRY Parisse, CON Orquera- Italy 7-0 France

    Huge start for the hosts as captain Parisse strides over to finish a fantastic move. Luke McLean gets things under way with a sharp counter attack and when the ball is moved into the middle Luciano Orquera beats prop Nicolas Mas to scuttle clear before finding long-striding number eight Parisse in support. Italia, Italia rings around the ground.


    Matthew Wilson on Twitter: "I've got a feeling deep in my gut that we could be on for an upset here. Certainly hope so. Come on Italy!!!"

    GabbyPizzi on Twitter: "Forza Italia"

    Will Italy record another shock? Get involved at #bbcrugby

    BBC Sport's Jonathan Davies at the Stadio Olimpico

    "Italy coach Jacques Brunel wants to play more of an expansive game, but that might favour the French. If Freddie Michalak plays well then France will win it."

  57. 2 mins: 
    Italy 0-0 France

    Big tackle from France but they enter a ruck from the side and Italy bang the penalty deep into French territory via the boot of Luke McLean.

  58. 1 min: 
    Italy 0-0 France

    Frederic Michalak announces his return to Six Nations action by sending the kick-off out on the full. Oops.

  59. 1500: 

    Right then. The Azzurri in white, Les Bleus in blue. Here we go now...

  60. 1459: 

    They're two of the better national anthems, La Marseillaise and Il Canto degli Italiani, don't you think? They've echoed around the stands at the Stadio Olimpico, the over 700 former Italy internationals invited onto the pitch have been saluted and we're seconds away from kick-off...

  61. 1455: 

    For Italy the key man will once again be marvellous number eight Sergio Parisse, although their entire pack is, as always, a very competitive unit.

    In the backs Tommaso Benvenuti is an exciting centre but their on-going problems at half-back continue, and on paper Luciano Orquera and Tobias Botes are hardly the new Diego Dominguez and Alessandro Troncon.

    Parisse told BBC Sport: "Since coach Jacques Brunel arrived we've changed the way we play. We were a defensive team and didn't take too many risks, but now we take risks. In the Six Nations we want to play like this and get victories.

    "For me and everyone it was a huge victory [over France in 2011]. Starting the Six Nations against France is difficult, but we really believe in ourselves.

    "One day I want to be in a team that can win this competition. Why not this year?"

  62. 1452: 

    Let's have a look at those teams:

    Italy: Masi; Venditti, Benvenuti, Sgarbi, McLean; Orquera, Bote;, Lo Cicero, Ghiraldini, Castrogiovanni, Geldenhuys, Minto, Zanni, Favaro, Parisse.

    Replacements: Giazzon, De Marchi, Cittadini, Pavanello, Derbyshire, Gori, Burton, G. Canale.

    France: Huget; Fofana, Fritz, Mermoz, Fall; Michalak, Machenaud; Forestier, Szarzewski, Mas, Pape, Maestri, Ouedraogo, Dusautoir, Picamoles.

    Replacements: Kayser, Debaty, Ducalcon, Taofifenua, Chouly, Parra, Trinh-Duc, Bastareaud.

    Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

  63. 1450: 

    France coach Philippe Saint-Andre on the return of Toulouse flanker Dusautoir:

    "He's worked very hard to come back from his injury. We saw during his preparation that he had worked a lot while he was injured.

    "He's a big, tough tackler. Against a tough team like Italy, because they are so strong in the pack, we will need to defend well. We'll need his experience and his ferocity."

  64. 1449: 

    Parra has been edged out of the France nine jersey by Maxime Machenaud but the big news is the return after injury of former captain Tjierry Dusautoir on the flank. There's a real blast from the past at 10 as Frederic Michalak, who had a superb autumn, starts a Six Nations game at fly-half for the first time since Wales in 2006.

  65. 1445: 

    Scrum-half Morgan Parra, who can only make the bench today, was part of the losing side for France that day.

    "I think that before people did not take Italy seriously but we know how good they are, having lost to them two years ago," he said.

    "They are a team that has improved a lot in the last couple of years. They are a physical team that likes to play more and more with the ball.

    "We will be careful and we know it will be hard for us on Sunday. There is a bit of fear because we always want to do well."

  66. 1440:  
    BBC Sport's Thomas Castaignede at the Stadio Olimpico, BBC Sport

    "When we [France] lost in 2011, had we become poorer or did they become better? They are now well organised and have a French coach. It might be hard today."

  67. 1438: 

    The media and fans may be harking back to the hosts' win two years ago, but for coach Italy coach Jacques Brunel it is the distant past.

    "I don't speak about what happened two years ago. The players remember it but since then both Italy and France have changed a lot - the players, staff, objectives," said Brunel, who is French.

    "It is certainly an important memory for some of the players but we can't think about it too much."

  68. 1434:  
    BBC Sport's Jeremy Guscott at the Stadio Olimpico

    "It was definitely one of those great occasions [Italy's 2011 win over France]. The Six Nations for me is about creating memories on and off the field - that was on the field. It means a lot to everybody else watching."

  69. 1431: 

    France go into the game in great form after a fine autumn campaign, and with a 31-2 overall winning record over the Italians. But the last time the two sides met in Rome, the Azzurri secured the greatest win in their history, stunning Les Bleus 22-21 to earn their first ever Six Nations win against the men from across the border.


    Matthew Beattie on Twitter: "Really want Italy to win today!"

  71. 1425: 

    When in Rome, do as the Romans do... so let's hope we're in for a gladiatorial encounter, full of car crash rugby but with plenty of pennacchio - that's panache for those of us who only speak English (wonder where we borrowed that from?).

  72. 1423: 

    Want to join the party? You can either text us on 81111 or tweet using #bbcrugby - let me know your views.

  73. 1420: 

    Ciao a tutti. After the Home Nations served up a couple of cracking games to get the 2013 Six Nations up and running, today it's the turn of European sophisticates Italy and France. Stay tuned for the biggest ding dong between the two neighbours since some provocateur claimed Prosecco was superior to Champagne.

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