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XV of France: draw across the board against Italy

The XV of France, still handicapped by a red card, conceded; Sunday à Lille a historic draw à home against Italy (13-13) in the Six Nations Tournament and sinks into crisis.

It came close to nothing, a few centimeters on the final penalty from Italian fly-half Paolo Garbisi, stopped by the post, for the Blues to add a humiliating defeat to their inaugural rout against Ireland (38-17), barely made up for by the narrow success in Scotland (20-16).

“We're in trouble. We are in difficulty. This draw could have been a defeat, we are aware of that,” admitted coach Fabien Galthié.

France had already lost twice in Rome, in 2011 and 2013, during the dark years of the Philippe Saint-André era, which his second term is increasingly starting to resemble.

But this draw is already a first which will inevitably have repercussions, even if, at the outset, the self-criticism remained relatively measured.

“There is the desire not to stay with this bitter taste that we all have in our mouths. We are going to question ourselves”, still promised Charles Ollivon, who has become captain again in the absence of Grégory Alldritt, injured.

– Jalibert hit in one knee –

The reception of the Italians, subscribed to the wooden spoon since their integration into the Tournament, should be the ideal opportunity to reassure themselves and finally let go offensively. It failed.

On the contrary, it has reinforced the doubts which have not let go of the French since the slap they received at the start against Ireland in Marseille, where they had already played for a long time in numerical inferiority after the exclusion of second row Paul Willemse.

XV of France: draw across the board against Italy

French center Jonathan Danty against Italy, during the Six Nations tournament, February 25, 2024 in Villeneuve-d'Ascq © AFP – Denis Charlet

It was center Jonathan Danty who saw red this time for a dangerous head-to-head tackle on his Italian counterpart Juan Ignacio Brex just before the break.

The French team therefore played the entire second half with 14 men and with an offensive organization remodeled after the exit in the 37th minute of its opener Matthieu Jalibert, injured in one knee and probably unavailable for the rest of the competition.

Back Thomas Ramos slipped at the opening, as he is wont to do with Stade Toulouse when Romain Ntamack is not there.

He quickly had the young scrum half Nolann Le Garrec by his side at the hinge since Maxime Lucu, still as unconvincing, was released even earlier (49th) than in Scotland two weeks ago.

Galthié's early coaching, who quickly emptied his bench of “finishers”, restored a semblance of fluidity to his team's play, without this materializing on the scoreboard.

– Garbisi's apology –

XV of France: draw across the board against Italy

The coach of the XV of France Fabien Galthié during the Six Nations tournament match against Italy, February 25, 2024 in Villeneuve-d'Ascq © AFP – Sameer Al-Doumy

Under the closed roof of the Pierre-Mauroy stadium, in the suburbs of Lille, the Italians finished the match even better by coming back to the level ten minutes from the end thanks to a corner try from behind from Toulouse Ange Capuozzo (70th).

They could have won after the siren on the penalty from Garbisi, pressed for time to hit his kick after his ball fell off the tee.

“This is not an excuse at all. I was not up to the task and I would like to apologize to of my teammates, who had a good match”, assumed the young opener, recently transferred from Montpellier to Toulon.

Obvious symptom of their current lack of confidence, the Blues sorely lacked precision in the scoring areas to realize their enormous territorial domination of the first act.

Too clumsy and impatient, they only flattened once, in force, by Ollivon (7th), who “didn't feel like that something is broken” in the team.

This Italian fiasco will inevitably prolong the convalescence of players still psychologically scarred four and a half months after their traumatic elimination in the quarter-finals. final of the World Cup at home.

The captain said on Saturday on the eve of the match that the final victory of the Tournament was in “the back of his mind” . With 9 points behind Ireland, the objective is now illusory.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116