France vs Italy prediction: Six Nations 2022 Week One

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TournamentSix Nations
TimetableSunday 6th of February at 15:00 GMT
PredictionFrance to Win
OddsFrance to Win @ 1.002
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France to Win
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The opening week of the Six Nations Championship will conclude on the 6th of February, at the Stade de France, Paris - the mighty France challenging underdogs Italy. Will this be the inevitable hammering all rugby fans expect or will gli Azzurri manage the unthinkable?

france-versus-italy-flags

Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy

When France and Italy play in the Six Nations, they also play for the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy - Trophée Garibaldi in French; Trofeo Garibaldi in Italian. The prize was named after Italian General, Giuseppe Maria Garibaldi, who was considered one of the greatest military leaders of modern times after success in South America and Europe.

The trophy was designed by ex-French rugby international and sculpter Jean-Pierre Rives. On the bicentenary of Giuseppe Garibaldi's birth, in 2007, the cup was first played. So far, it has been played for 15 times, with France winning 13 times to Italy's two.

Background

It is difficult, if not persuaded by some sense of an instrinsic blind optimism, to be positive about Italian performances in rugby - especially given that they have won the Wooden Spoon, the ignominious last-place award, an embarrasing 16 out of 22 times and only racked up a woeful 12 wins in almost double the number of years. With France being one of three countries that are the bookies' favourites to take home the overall trophy, having done so five times before, it is going to be a tough week for the away side.

Nevertheless, let's take a look at both sides' recent forms, to see if there is a glimmer of hope for a half-decent match after all.

Recent Results

Both teams were part of another incredible year for the Autumn Internationals, with France claiming full bragging rights with a clean sweep which included a whopping 40-25 drumming of the All Blacks. Italy, on the other hand, did not share the same savvy, as can be seen from the tables below:

France Results Autumn Internationals

DateTeamsLocationScoreWinner
20th November 2021France vs New ZealandStade de France, Paris29-20France
14th November 2021France vs GeorgiaMatmut Atlantique, Bordeaux41-15France
6th November 2021France vs ArgentinaStade de France, Paris29-20France

Italy Results Autumn Internationals

DateTeamsLocationScoreWinner
20th November 2021Italy vs UruguayStadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma17-10Italy
13th November 2021Italy vs ArgentinaStadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso16-37Argentina
6th November 2021Italy vs New ZealandStadio Olimpico, Rome9-47New Zealand

Squad Lists

Like any great challenge in life, success is reaped from having the right team to employ your winning strategy. That means Head Coaches have their work cut out for them, agonising over whom to select for their squads.

I think the French will be more concerned about picking the right players in order to build for the Rugby World Cup 2023 rather than worrying about what will effectively be a warm-up match against the Italians, but let's look at both squads to see if Italy have anything to match the overwhelming talent of Les Blues.

France Squad Six Nations 2022

Unlike some of the Home Nations teams in the competition, the French appear to be fielding a slightly less interantionally-experienced team, with the highest-capped player being Gaël Fickou, on 66 caps. That's not to say that this won't be a team that is up to the challenge, but more that they seem to be hoping that fresher legs will inspire creativity, and that fitness will be the ultimate weapon come the last 20 minutes of each game.

Forwards

PlayerPositionClub TeamNumber of Caps
Bernard Le RouxSecond RowRacing 9247 caps
Uini AtonioPropLa Rochelle37 caps
Cyril BaillePropToulouse31 caps
Romain TaofifénuaSecond RowToulon31 caps
Gregory AlldrittFlanker/Number 8La Rochelle26 caps
Demba BambaPropLyon20 caps
Paul WillemseSecond RowMontpellier19 caps
Julien MarchandHookerToulouse16 caps
Anthony JelonchFlankerToulose14 caps
Jean-Baptiste GrosPropToulon14 caps
Dylan CretinFlankerLyon13 caps
Mohamed HaouasPropMontpellier13 caps
Cameron WokiSecond Row/FlankerBordeaux12 caps
François CrosFlanker/Number 8Toulouse11 caps
Peato MauvakaHookerToulouse9 caps
Gaëtan BarlotHookerCastres3 caps
Thibaud FlamentSecond RowToulouse3 caps
Ibrahim DialloFlanker/Number 8Racing 921 cap
Daniel Bibi BiziwuPropClermontUncapped
Florent Vanverberghe Second RowCastresUncapped
Florian VerhaegheSecond RowMontpellierUncapped
Yoan TangaFlanker/Number 8Racing 92Uncapped

Backs

PlayerPositionClub TeamNumber of Caps
Gaël FickouCentreRacing 9266 caps
Brice DulinFull-backLa Rochelle36 caps
Antoine DupontScrum-halfToulouse35 caps
Virimi VakatawaCentreRacing 9230 caps
Damian PenaudWingClermont28 caps
Teddy ThomasWingRacing 9228 caps
Romain NtamackFly-halfToulouse23 caps
Thomas RamosFull-backToulouse14 caps
Jonathan DantyCentreLa Rochelle11 caps
Baptiste CouilloudScrum-halfLyon8 caps
Gabin VillièreWingToulon8 caps
Melvyn JaminetFull-backPerpignan6 caps
Maxime LucuScrum-halfBordeaux2 caps
Yoram MoefanaCentreBordeaux2 caps
Antoine HastoyFly-halfPau1 cap
Matthis LebelWingToulouse1 cap
Jules FavreCentreLa RochelleUncapped
Léo BerdeuFly-halfLyonUncapped
Tani ViliCentreClremontUncapped

Italy Squad Six Nations 2022

So far, I haven't given Italy much of a chance of winning, but maybe their squad will reveal something surprising that may tip the balance in their favour. Let's see if they have any kind of secret weapon that will help them nail down an impressive French squad.

Forwards

PlayerPositionClub TeamNumber of Caps
Braam SteynFlankerBenetton46 caps
Marco FuserSecond RowNewcastle Falcons36 caps
Sebastian NegriSecond Row/FlankerBenetton36 caps
Federico RuzzaSecond RowBenetton25 caps
Tiziano PasqualiPropBenetton21 caps
David SisiSecond RowZebre Parma18 caps
Pietro CeccarelliPropBrive17 caps
Danilo FischettiPropZebre Parma15 caps
Giosuè ZilocchiPropZebre Parma15 caps
Niccolò CannoneSecond RowBenetton15 caps
Gianmarco LucchesiHookerBenetton8 caps
Cherif TraorèPropBenetton12 caps
Michele LamaroFlankerBenetton10 caps
Ivan NemerPropBenetton3 caps
Giovanni PettinelliFlankerBenetton1 cap
Haime FaivaHookerBenetton1 cap
Giacomo NicoteraHookerBenettonUncapped
Manuel ZulianiFlankerBenettonUncapped
Toa HalafihiFlankerBenettonUncapped

Backs

PlayerPositionClub TeamNumber of Caps
Luca MorisiCentreBenetton36 caps
Edoardo PadovaniFull-backBenetton30 caps
Paolo GarbisiFly-halfMontpellier13 caps
Callum BraleyScrum-halfBenetton12 caps
Federico MoriWingBordeaux11 caps
Monty IoaneWingBenetton9 caps
Stephen VarneyScrum-halfGloucester9 caps
Ignacio BrexCentreBenetton8 caps
Marco ZanonCentreBenetton7 caps
Alessandro FuscoScrum-halfZebre Parma2 caps
Pierre BrunoWingZebre Parma1 caps
Ange CapuozzoFull-backGrenobleUncapped
Giacomo Da ReFly-half/Full-backBenettonUncapped
Leonardo MarinFly-halfBenettonUncapped
Tommaso MenoncelloWingBenettonUncapped

Analysis

It's hard to compare the two teams and see this as any kind of fair fight. The difference in experience between the sides is staggering: France source most of their players from world-class clubs in the French Top 14, such as Toulouse and Montpellier; whereas Italy's best are not used to the same battle-hardening standards, with the Peroni Top10 not showcasing the same level of quality. Don't get me wrong, it's fantastic that Italy have a rugby set-up in the first place, as it gives European rugby fans the opportunity to catch more of the game. Quality of club-play in Italy versus the French leagues, however? The dichotomy is unequivocal.

France vs Italy Winner: Who Will Claim the Honour of the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy?

If it were my money, there would be no question of France getting my bet. They are playing at home, have the better form, have the better squad, and are ready to challenge the Six Nations title as favourites. The quality of France is undeniable.

That being said, wouldn't it be nice if Italy brought home the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy? Imagine if the underdogs caused the sort of upset nobody is dreaming will happen. It's a nice thought, and I almost wish it would happen, as it would be a win for world rugby and show that having Italy in the Six Nations may be worthwhile after all. Back in reality though, it's France all the way, and Italy will have had a good day if they are even within 25 points. Allez Les Blues!

France to Win