“It’s a team that knows how to annoy us”, the French team is wary of Italy

By Le Figaro with AFP

Published yesterday at 11:00 p.m., Updated yesterday at 11:11 p.m.

Marine Ménager will start. Norbert Scanella / Norbert Scanella / Panoramic

This Sunday (1:30 p.m.), Les Bleues face Italy at Jean-Bouin. And must win, so as not to be left behind by England.

The French women’s XV will have to step up their game against Italy on Sunday in Paris, during the third day of the Six Nations Tournament, to continue their long-distance duel with the five-time defending English ogre. To hope to win a first Tournament since 2018, the Blues must first beat the Italians then the Welsh, two opponents within their reach on paper, before offering themselves a «finale» against the Red Roses, April 27, in Bordeaux.

Undefeated in the competition for six years, the English went to Scotland then hosted Ireland with a sixth Grand Slam in a row in their sights. First stop for the French, Italy at the Jean-Bouin stadium. Captain Manae Feleu’s teammates have not fallen to this opponent in the Tournament since 2019 and a setback in Padua (31-12). Since then, the Transalpines, now 6th nation in the world, have progressed and offered themselves a prestigious victory against these same Blues (26-19), two years ago, in a preparation match for the World Cup in New Zealand.

An iron defense

No question, therefore, for Gabrielle Vernier and her teammates to take this meeting in stride. “It’s a team that is constantly improving and knows how to bother us, we’ve seen it in recent years, particularly last year in Parma (French victory 22-12, Editor’s note). We are going to build up to a crescendo in this Tournament, we know that each match has its difficulties, its specificities”warned the Blagnac center during the week.

Faced with unpredictable Italy, the Blues will therefore have to be wary. Especially since their first two outings, against Ireland (38-17) then in Scotland (15-5), were faltering. Fortunately, the players of the duo Gaëlle Mignot and David Ortiz can rely on a rigorous defense, the second in the Tournament (22 points conceded), and the experience of the managers: if the third line and former captain Gaëlle Hermet will start on the bench , the back Emilie Boulard, the twins Romane and Marine Ménager or the first line of Bordeaux Deshaye-Sochat-Khalfaoui will be there.

They will also have to work on precision, particularly in attack, which almost cost them dearly in Edinburgh (55 hand faults in two matches). Finally, Wales and Ireland, the only two teams yet to have tasted victory, face off in a life and death duel.


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