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Post by maestegmafia on Sat 02 Feb 2019, 11:23 am

Considering we only appear to have a single Frenchman and unfortunately no Italians on these boards I thought maybe we could start a thread to discuss our thoughts on the French and the Italians.

I have read many posts by contributors from all the home nations mentioning how little they know about the opposition from Italy or France, but during this Six Nations we all play both teams and have a great chance to impartially discuss their trials and tribulations.

France Six Nations Squad 2019

Forwards (17): Dorian Aldegheri, Gregory Alldritt, Uini Atonio, Demba Bamba, Pierre Bourgarit, Yacouba Camara, Guilhem Guirado (capt), Arthur Iturria, Felix Lambey, Wenceslas Lauret, Bernard Le Roux, Julien Marchand, Louis Picamoles, Jefferson Poirot, Dany Priso, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Paul Willemse

Backs (14): Mathieu Bastareaud, Anthony Belleau, Geoffrey Doumayrou, Antoine Dupont, Gael Fickou, Wesley Fofana, Yoann Huget, Camille Lopez, Maxime Medard, Romain Ntamack, Morgan Parra, Damian Penaud, Thomas Ramos, Baptiste Serin


Read more at https://www.rugbyworld.com/tournaments/six-nations/france-six-nations-squad-88063#4Lrlsw3Zi7ItODep.99

Italy Six Nations Squad 2019

Forwards: Simone Ferrari, Andrea Lovotti, Tiziano Pasquali, Cherif Traore, Giosuè Zilocchi, Luca Bigi, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Dean Budd, Federico Ruzza, David Sisi, Alessandro Zanni, Marco Barbini, Maxime Mbanda, Sebastian Negri, Sergio Parisse (c), Abraham Jurgens Steyn, Jimmy Tuivaiti

Backs: Guglielmo Palazzani, Tito Tebaldi, Tommaso Allan, Carlo Canna, Ian McKinley, Giulio Bisegni, Michele Campagnaro, Tommaso Castello, Luca Morisi, Tommaso Benvenuti, Angelo Esposito, Jayden Hayward, Edoardo Padovani, Luca Sperandio


Read more at https://www.rugbyworld.com/tournaments/six-nations/italy-six-nations-squad-88206#5KKjiESIHpiPvc3F.99

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Post by maestegmafia on Sat 02 Feb 2019, 11:33 am

France started with a loss to Wales at home on a freezing and incredibly wet evening.

They opened well racing to a 16 point to nil half time lead only to lose in the second half.

The monster pack, 50kg advantage over Wales was not dominant at the scrum, their first scrum penalty came in the 70th minute of the match, Wales were awarded several previously as the much smaller Rob Evans dealt admirably with his monster counterpart Unis Antonio.

France were blooding in some very good young players, Ntamack made the pre-match headlines but Lambey the ginger second row had the bigger impact.

So going forward where do France go?

I don’t think they need drastic changes, and it isn’t just a matter of swapping out the fatties. Yes Antonio isn’t good enough to start at tighthead but Vahaamahina is both a monster of a man and an athletic talented player, silly intercept pass forgiven.

There may well be a more dynamic player they could add to the blindside, Laurent was ok but not spectacular.

In my opinion a couple of changes for next week in the pack and this could be a great French team.

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Post by Cyril on Sat 02 Feb 2019, 11:39 am

France are a long, long way from being a great side. So much hyperbole on here. They’re bang average.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sat 02 Feb 2019, 11:46 am

Italy will be intresting. The squad is loaded with Treviso players, Treviso are doing very well in the domestic league.

Massive underdogs for every game, start the tournament well and fade there after every year. Very few stand out players, the one world class player they have is in the faintsest twighlight of an incredible career.

First up in a few hours against the Scots in Edinburgh I really don’t see their tournament starting well for them. Wales stuttering performance last night will likely see them putting in a massive performance next weekend, then Ireland in Rome, England at Twickenham this is not going to be an easy tournament for them.


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Post by BigGee on Sat 02 Feb 2019, 12:45 pm

Though I am Scottish by birth and heart, I am also half Italian by marriage and will hopefully at some stage in the not to distant future be a citizen of that great country as well, so I am always happy to talk up Italian chances.

They are definitely getting there. Connor O'Shea has done a great job with them and the building blocks do seem to be finally in place. They have had a couple of half decent U20 teams now and these players will trickle through to the pro teams and international sides. Both the pro sides, who were basket cases a few years back and on the point of folding, are also playing much better now. I think it is fair to say they are finally getting to grips with the professional game. Down the line, the rest of us better take care, as Italy is a big country with potentially a lot of talent out there to unearth. Rugby is growing in popularity, whilst football is probably declining.

Having said that, they are not there yet and will continue to struggle against good teams. They will be hard to beat though and give us some good games. I am expedcting a tough one this afternoon, by no means a gimme. Once they start getting a few results, their confidence will grow and they could move forward. They are on the same kind of development curve as Scotland were three or four years ago pre Vern Cotter. No more talk of them getting kicked out of the 6n now thankfully.

France yesterday gave us a glimpse of what they can do, but they also showed us how fragile they still are. If they don't turn things around in their next game then it could be another tough tournament for them.

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Post by maestegmafia on Sat 02 Feb 2019, 12:54 pm

Excellent point about the Italian youth teams. An impressive ten point win in Scotland last night shows further signs at how well they are progressing.

Similarly in France, I recently saw an interview with Phillipe St Andre who was saying that when he was the French coach and Clermont played Toulon in the HEC final he only had I forwards from the two sides to select for France and most importantly no youth players.

The future of rugby needs strong foundations in any nation and if Connor O’Shea’s Italian legacy is to become anything of significance then infrastructure from the roots up would be a huge part of Italian rugby’s hopefully more prosperous future.

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Post by sensisball on Sat 02 Feb 2019, 3:56 pm

With the changes in France T14 teams now have to have a minimum of 14 (or maybe its 13?) French or french academy trained players in their squad over the course of the season. Some of these guys will be foreign eg. Clermont have a link up with a club in Fiji and bring players like Raka over when they are teenagers. However it means that there are definitely more French youngsters getting the opportunity to play in the top league.Hence why we see young players like Dupont, Penaud, Iturria, Ntamack,Bamba (actually playing on loan in Pro 2 to Brive), Lambey and Alldroit getting time in the French team.
Brunel probably knows this world cup is coming too soon for his current squad and that his time will probably be up after it but he seems to be building for the future.

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Post by sensisball on Sat 02 Feb 2019, 7:19 pm

Just to clarify i meant to say 13 or 14 of their match day squad have to be French or French qualified.
Having seen England comprehensively demolish Ireland. Logic would dictate that France will be dispatched with ease next Sunday in London. But when has logic applied to France!

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Post by maestegmafia on Sun 03 Feb 2019, 9:08 pm

So Scottish fans...! Despite your resounding success did anyone impress you in the opposition on Saturday?

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Post by BigGee on Sun 03 Feb 2019, 10:11 pm

I think the Italian outside backs are pretty dangerous when they get some ball, as they showed in the last 10 mins. Campagnaro always looks good, though probably a better centre than winger.

There big problem against Wales will of course be getting any decent ball to show that.

They certainly seem a lot fitter than they used to as well, even last year in Rome, they probably lost as they faded in the last 10 mins as used to be their want. They are much more likely to stay in the game now, though also likely to be chasing it at the end.

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Post by maestegmafia on Tue 05 Feb 2019, 7:43 am

Yes big G

I think the outside backs look very good and I agree that centre is probably Campagnaros better position. Their scrum half had a pretty good game and considering his age and longevity old Parisse had a good game.

Teams to be announced on Thursday afternoon

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Post by maestegmafia on Tue 05 Feb 2019, 7:46 am

From the french perspective I would personally drop Unis Antonio and bring in a more athletic prop. England should deal with that french front five easily on last weeks showing.

Penaud to centre might also be a smart move for them. He looked very dangerous but barely got his hands on the ball.

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Post by BigGee on Tue 05 Feb 2019, 8:02 am

He will probably bring back Basteraud for the England game. Fight fire with fire and all that.

A shame really as that creative backline out for the Wales game is likely the way forward for them

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Post by maestegmafia on Tue 05 Feb 2019, 9:44 am

BigGee wrote:He will probably bring back Basteraud for the England game. Fight fire with fire and all that.

A shame really as that creative backline out for the Wales game is likely the way forward for them

Looks windy but dry for the weekend in london

I reckon a fast backline is what you need. Stade would make mincemeat of Bastareau

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Post by maestegmafia on Wed 13 Feb 2019, 7:06 am

Quite an interesting article on Frances collapse last weekend at Twickenham. Showing how England exploited the French back threes lack of positional defensive cohesion.

https://www.planetrugby.com/news/analysis-frances-nightmare-at-twickenham/

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Post by robbo277 on Wed 13 Feb 2019, 8:29 am

For how woeful France looked against England, I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that they'll lose to Scotland.

England beat Ireland in Dublin quite comfortably in the end, and then everyone questioned how Ireland would go in Scotland. But they beat Scotland in Edinburgh, also quite comfortably in the end.

I don't think how teams play against England is therefore a worthy barometer of how they'll do against Scotland. Scotland pose a completely different threat and so far this tournament haven't been operating at the same level as England have.

France are at home and Scotland have injuries. If they're lacking direction from the coach and the senior players step up here, then we could see them really have a go at Scotland, who have dreadful away form outside of Italy.

It's a must-win game for both sides, this may end up a 4th placed play-off - and with Italy as they are 5th is the new last. With France going to Dublin in round 4 they need this to try to get their 2 wins from this tournament. Scotland have a slightly easier Round 4 tie against Wales, but if they lose in Paris and at Twickenham, even a result at home to the Welsh will represent a step back from what they achieved last year.

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Post by maestegmafia on Wed 13 Feb 2019, 9:45 am

Three games still to play and plenty of time to turn their results around.

Intrinsically France have on paper a great squad of players. They have the ability to win their next three games.

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Post by BigGee on Wed 13 Feb 2019, 10:06 am

I don't for a nano second think that France will be as poor next week against Scotland. They are going to have been stung by that defeat and the criticism they have taken over it. As MM says, we know they are good players.

The question to me is what team will he put out this time around. The coach seems to be divorced from his players and who knows how he will react to the back biting that is going on. You do wonder what the training sessions will be like now, pretty frosty you would imagine.

Scotland is a winnable game for them, which England probably never was, even if they had bothered to turn up. I think if they play badly again, there is probably no hope for them and they could even get nilled over the whole tournament.

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Post by maestegmafia on Wed 13 Feb 2019, 10:11 am

There are definitely a few reports saying how disheartened the players are at their results. Heads go down to early.

Though we have seen against England and Wales they can score superb try’s

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Post by Scottrf on Wed 13 Feb 2019, 10:12 am

maestegmafia wrote:Three games still to play and plenty of time to turn their results around.

Intrinsically France have on paper a great squad of players. They have the ability to win their next three games.

No they do not. They are a shambles, with no consistency of coaching or selection, an awful forward pack and no balance in the backs. No performers in their key positions.

France are miles behind in modern rugby, the games has moved on to dynamic forward play and they are 10 years out of date. The top 14 has taken many steps backwards, the players are not fit enough and the foreign influence increases all of the time.

They did okay last year in the 6 Nations because they had a very limited (and unambitious) gameplan. They've completely changed that and are a disorganised mess.

They lost to Fiji at home, and are ranked below them and Argentina, a team who are literally just one club now, and not a particularly good one. This is not a team that's a threat to Ireland.

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Post by BigGee on Wed 13 Feb 2019, 10:43 am

Scottrf wrote:
maestegmafia wrote:Three games still to play and plenty of time to turn their results around.

Intrinsically France have on paper a great squad of players. They have the ability to win their next three games.

No they do not. They are a shambles, with no consistency of coaching or selection, an awful forward pack and no balance in the backs. No performers in their key positions.

France are miles behind in modern rugby, the games has moved on to dynamic forward play and they are 10 years out of date. The top 14 has taken many steps backwards, the players are not fit enough and the foreign influence increases all of the time.

They did okay last year in the 6 Nations because they had a very limited (and unambitious) gameplan. They've completely changed that and are a disorganised mess.

They lost to Fiji at home, and are ranked below them and Argentina, a team who are literally just one club now, and not a particularly good one. This is not a team that's a threat to Ireland.

I can't see them beating Ireland, but Scotland and Italy are not Ireland and they will know that. A couple of wins will put the knives back into the kitchen drawer, at least for a little while.

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Post by maestegmafia on Wed 13 Feb 2019, 11:02 am

Scottrf wrote:
maestegmafia wrote:Three games still to play and plenty of time to turn their results around.

Intrinsically France have on paper a great squad of players. They have the ability to win their next three games.

No they do not. They are a shambles, with no consistency of coaching or selection, an awful forward pack and no balance in the backs. No performers in their key positions.

France are miles behind in modern rugby, the games has moved on to dynamic forward play and they are 10 years out of date. The top 14 has taken many steps backwards, the players are not fit enough and the foreign influence increases all of the time.

They did okay last year in the 6 Nations because they had a very limited (and unambitious) gameplan. They've completely changed that and are a disorganised mess.

They lost to Fiji at home, and are ranked below them and Argentina, a team who are literally just one club now, and not a particularly good one. This is not a team that's a threat to Ireland.

In 2007 Wales lost to Fiji then won the gransdslam. Sport is not so black and white.

France have very good players who are playing very well for their clubs. Their clubs are doing very well in Europe too, all bar Lyon were either top of their pool or second. They are making system errors on the pitch, their defence has holes, in last weeks case a massive one where the back three should have been.

Jacques Brunel is not an idiot either. Things aren’t going well at all but their are likely to be rectifiable reasons for that.

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Post by Scottrf on Wed 13 Feb 2019, 11:31 am

Wales weren't 10th in the world. This isn't about one-off results, they are a bad team.

Which of these players are playing well for their clubs? Not many of them. Of the key positions:

Guirado isn't a consistent starter for Toulon who are 11th.
Picamoles hasn't hit the same heights since he left Northampton IMO.
Of their half backs, Parra/Lopez have barely been picked together, and Parra is past his best and not a consistent starter for his club. Lopez isn't a top international fly half.

The rest of the forwards are bang average players and they can't even pick players in their positions in the backs.

As for Brunel, he hardly improved Italy (by all accounts things are much better under COS), and he was a disaster at Bordeaux.


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Post by sensisball on Wed 13 Feb 2019, 4:32 pm

Parra is still the no 1 s/h at Clermont, even though Laidlaw is having a much better year than last. Parra was out for a spell around and after the autumn internationals and Laidlaw or Cassing(during Int window) played in that 6 week period.
Lopez is pulling the strings in the best attacking back line in France: happy to take the ball to the line and distributes well  to backs running great lines off him also puts in accurate kicks to his wingers. Fofana is back to his near his best and Penaud has made the transition to wing pretty effortlessly at club level. Ituuria  has also impressed moving to 6 for Clermont and 7 for France.Du Pont has made a huge difference to Toulouse's back  play. Vahaamahina is the first name on the Clermont's  team sheet's front five, massive man but mobile and skilful.

One problem is that some players such as Picamoles and Basteraud are past their best but still get picked. In Picamoles case there isn't a natural successor but at 13, any one of Lamerat, Fickou or Penaud would offer so much more.

Brunel has been unfortunate with some injuries. Brice Dulin is still not back after a lengthy lay off for Racing and would have been be a steady presence against a kicking game at 15. Raka, the Fiji born but now France eligible winger,who is a try scoring machine (with a solid defence) broke his wrist in the autumn and is still recovering.  

Poor selection and lack of a game plan are combining with a fragile psyche to create some terrible performances for France

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Post by Scottrf on Wed 13 Feb 2019, 4:47 pm

Parra started the first game in December post AIs and since has started in 2/8 games.

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Post by The Oracle on Wed 13 Feb 2019, 7:51 pm

French players looking to take matters in to their own hands. Revolt!

https://www.rugbypass.com/news/france-in-disarray-as-players-suggest-taking-matters-into-their-own-hands?fbclid=IwAR0qd9lyp-KQoi4kX4tsjFFPh-H1l8b21M0XKlU44lII_B7r8QA476pkszk


I’ve read this quote about the change of captain during the Wales match, and lack of communication, a few times now. Shocking!
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Post by sensisball on Wed 13 Feb 2019, 9:35 pm

Suspect Parra will be binned for those comments, Du Pont or Serin to start?
In which case it would probably be the end of his France career. It would be a sad end for a great player.

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Post by maestegmafia on Thu 14 Feb 2019, 9:30 am

Parra was part of the Leivremont team when the players had their last coup d’etat.

He was selected at flyhalf after Trin Duc was chastised by Lievremon post japan match

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Post by maestegmafia on Tue 19 Feb 2019, 9:42 am

France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Gaël Fickou, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Arthur Iturria, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Félix Lambey, 4 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 3 Demba Bamba, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Etienne Falgoux, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Paul Willemse, 20 Gregory Alldritt, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Maxime Medard

That looks a good side. Parr’s and Lopez are out

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