RUGBY WORLD CUP 2015
Sunday September 20, 5am
We often hear ‘Which France will turn up?’ at big tournaments but that seems a little harsh on reflection. In fact, they often produce some of their best rugby at World Cups best evidenced by their six appearances in the seven previous editions of the tournament. In a group where Ireland and France are expected to progress, Phillipe Saint-Andre will be wary of the ‘lesser’ teams given France’s loss to Tonga in the pool stage four years ago (although they still went on to reach the final) and the two defeats they’ve suffered in their last five against Italy.
The Azzurri have never reached a World Cup quarter-final before but they’ve an opportunity this year as they’ve avoided the southern hemisphere giants in the draw. Italy have faced Australia, New Zealand and South Africa 43 times since 1973. They’ve lost every match.
France come into this World Cup after a disappointing Six Nations campaign with their two wins coming over Scotland and a 29-0 victory against their opponents here. Les Bleus have shown positive signs in their warm-up games having won two out of three including a powerful and dominant forward demonstration against England. In the last three World Cups, France have won nine of their 12 group games with an average winning margin of 39 points with every victory surpassing the -14.5 handicap.
Despite the Italians being familiar with this French side since their introduction to the Six Nations in 2000, they have only ever beaten France in Rome and come into this World Cup horribly short of form. The Azzurri have won just three of their last 20 fixtures and in 2015 their average FT score has been 13-34 against. They were thrashed by at least 23 points in all four of their Six Nations defeats.
Other than the two losses, France have an imperious record against Italy. In the last 16 meetings between the two nations Les Blues have won 14 with 12 wins by 15 or more points.
- France have won 14 of the last 16 meetings between these two countries. Both defeats were in Rome.
- France have beaten Italy by at least 15 points in 12 of their last 16 head-to-heads.
- France have reached at least the semi-final in six of the seven World Cups.
- France have won nine of their last 12 World Cup Group Stage matches by at least 15 points.
- Italy have won just three of their last 20 matches.
- Italy have led at HT in just one of their last 20 competitive fixtures.
- In 2015 Italy’s average HT score is 8-13 and their average FT score has 13-34