• France's news in English

French look to build on England win against Italy

AFP · 8 Feb 2014, 13:18

Published: 08 Feb 2014 13:18 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Their thrilling 26-24 victory over England last Saturday eased the pressure on coach Philippe Saint-Andre after a woeful series of Test results in 2013 which saw them beat only Scotland and Tonga.

However, they will meet an Italy side that are no longer the pushovers they were having shown that by beating both the French and the Irish in last year's Six Nations and giving two-time defending champions Wales a few scares before losing 23-15 in Cardiff last Saturday.

The task for the French will be to build on the positives from the England game, in which they showed great character to stay in contention as England spurned several chances to put the match out of sight in the second-half.

Saint-Andre, whose flamboyance as a player has not been replicated in the sides he has coached, has kept changes to a minimum as he and his staff bid to finetune their line-up ahead of the major goal -- delivering their first ever World Cup trophy next year.

He has made three changes to the starting line-up, the most intriguing in bringing in Stade Francais fullback Hugo Bonneval, son of 18-times capped international Eric Bonneval, but on the wing.

"He is more accustomed to playing at fullback but I saw him play on the wing against London Irish (in the European Challenge Cup)," said Saint-Andre.

"He was exceptional and was named man of the match."

Bonneval, whose Stade Francais team-mate Jules Plisson starts again at fly-half after an impressive showing against England, gets the nod ahead of Gael Fickou, who must consider himself unlucky after scoring the late try against the English.

Saint-Andre, though, is more focussed on his side keeping their feet on the ground and suddenly thinking they are world beaters.

"We can't start swaggering about because we won one match," he said.

"We had a difficult 2013. On the contrary, we need to show the desire to improve, to be more effective and to build on last week by recording a second victory.

"We know that, in the Six Nations, there are no easy matches. The Italians showed us that last year (beating France 23-18 in Rome), and they posed a lot of problems to the Welsh in their first match."

Italy coach Jacques Brunel would sympathise with Saint-Andre about the fickleness and inconsistent habits of the French national side as he was assistant coach to Bernard Laporte from 2001 to 2007 but now he is ready to play on their weaknesses and give Italian rugby a real shot in the arm.

Story continues below…

The 60-year-old has introduced new talent since he took over after the 2011 World Cup but has also retained experienced hands especially in the scrum where captain Sergio Parisse -- teammate of Plisson and Bonneval -- and tight-head prop Martin Castrogiovanni will equal the national record of 103 caps held by retired prop Andrea Lo Cicero.

Brunel -- who was forwards coach under Laporte -- said that based on history France were formidable opponents but his side could pull off a memorable victory if they play up to the standard they did in Rome last year.

"France are dangerous simply because of their past record, their history, including being World Cup finalists last time out," said Brunel, who experienced two World Cup semi-finals as France assistant coach both times being beaten by England.

"But I'm hoping we can look to last year's win in Rome for inspiration and that we can play to our full potential. If we play as I know we can, we have every chance of beating France."

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available