France need a statement victory or the wheels are in danger of falling off their Six Nations campaign entirely. A stuffing against Ireland in round one had the caveat of playing 50 minutes with 14 men after Paul Willemse’s red card. But to scrape past Scotland in round two – and only win off the back of a controversial no-try call by the TMO at the death to deny the Scots – has piled the pressure on Les Bleus.
And Italy are no longer the push-overs they once were. Yes, Ireland taught them a lesson in Dublin, but this is an Ireland team that looks a class above the rest. The Azzurri will fancy their chances.
When is France v Italy?
France and Italy meet on Sunday, February 25. The match kicks off at 3pm (GMT).
Where is France v Italy taking place?
Decathlon Arena – Stade Pierre Mauroy, in Lille.
How to watch France v Italy on TV
The match will be broadcast live on ITV.
Who is the referee?
Christophe Ridley (Eng). Telegraph Sport has published a full guide to all the referees at this year’s tournament.
What is the latest news?
France are starting to look like the rabble of five years ago, says Telegraph rugby reporter Charles Richardson, after a convincing defeat to Ireland in round one followed by a highly-fortunate victory over Scotland.
Who are you and what have you done with the boys in Bleu? The rejuvenated France that banished the traditional Gallic clichés; the France that dazzled; the France that allowed fans to dream of the audacious and the daring with ball in hand.
Teething problems had been expected in round one and the French rugby public acquiesced on the proviso there was a backlash at Murrayfield in round two. In terms of the result, there was. But in terms of France’s all-round performance, there was little to write home about, save for the odd moment of individual excellence and an obdurate goal-line stand at the death – and even that could have had very different consequences. Whisper it quietly, but France were even beginning to look like the rabble that Fabien Galthié inherited at the end of 2019.