In one of the most entertaining opening weekend’s of Six Nations rugby for some time, the best was saved for last as Italy and France battled it out at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, with the hosts taking a famous 23-18 victory.
Italy beat France for just the second time in fourteen meetings between the two sides, showing yet again that they are no longer the whipping boys of the tournament, particularly not at home.
It’s been two years since Italy beat France 22-21 in Rome and this was as big an occasion as that famous day, with Sergio Parisse showing yet again why he’s considered by some to be the best number eight in world rugby.
Flyhalf Luciano Orquera also had a huge game for the hosts, playing a part in tries for Parisse and Martin Castogiovanni, as well as kicking two conversions, and a penalty and a drop goal.
“I’m really happy for the team and the fans, after two years we’ve beaten France again in Rome,” Orquera said. “We were mentally extremely strong right from the beginning, we wanted to win at any cost and we were always in the match. We never gave up.”
Italy join England and Ireland on two points, while Wales and France have it all to do next weekend when they meet at the Stade de France in Paris.
“It’s hard to say what went wrong, but you have to congratulate them, they started better than us,” said returning French number ten Frederic Michalak, while coach Philippe Saint Andre said that they lacked precision and accuracy.
“We didn’t take advantage of our chances while we were in the lead and the Italians overtook us.
“The first half an hour was bad and the last half an hour was a catastrophe. It hurts but it’s only one game. What we have to do now is concentrate on the Wales match on Saturday,” he said.