Italy 14-25 France: French side end on a high with victory in tight game at Stadio Olimpico as Italy end Six Nations winless

16 Mar

France won their final match of the Six Nations after scoring three tries in their win against Italy.

Italy ended this year’s tournament without a win after the 25-14 defeat at the Stadio Olimpico.

Antoine Dupont was one of France’s try scorers

Italy took an early three point lead after France conceded a penalty in front of the posts, which was Tommaso Allan.

Allan slotted another penalty over to put his side 6-0 up in the 12th minute of the match when the visitors conceded another penalty.

Italy’s solid start was completely undone when France scored a try out of nowhere.

Tommaso Allan scores with a kick for Italy

Antoine Dupont beat the last man to score a simple try and Romain Ntamack converted to make it 7-6 to the away side.

The France fly-half held his nerve to score a penalty to extend that lead to 10-6, which is how it stayed until the half-time break.

Allan reduced the deficit to just a point for Italy early in the second half before Yoann Huget scored France’s second try of the afternoon to make it 17-9.

Damian Penaud runs away from the Italy defence

Italy got a try they deserved 55 minutes into the match when Tito Tebaldi bulldozed his way over the try line.

Allan missed the conversion to leave the Italians trailing 17-14 with 25 minutes to go.

Ntamack scored a drop goal in the 63rd minute to increase the gap to six points meaning the home side would need a try to get back into the game.

Damian Penaud sealed the win late on with France’s third try of the match.

Six Nations 2019 permutations explained: Can England or Ireland win it? Will bonus points come into play?

15 Mar

This season’s Six Nations is set for a thrilling conclusion today with three countries still in title contention.

Wales, England and Ireland can all win silverware with the former currently top of the table with four wins from four.

Wales take on Ireland this weekend while England face Scotland and there are a host of possible ways to where the trophy will end up.

Wales are in pole position in the Six Nations

What are the permutations?

  • Wales will win the Six Nations title and clinch a first Grand Slam for seven years if they beat Ireland in Cardiff.
  • If Wales and England finish level on 20 points, which is quite possible, then Wales will still be crowned champions as Grand Slam winners are automatically awarded three bonus points under Six Nations rules.
  • A draw between Wales and Ireland – and England losing to Scotland at Twickenham – would see Wales win the title without a Grand Slam.
  • A draw between Wales and Ireland – and England beating Scotland – would see England crowned champions.
  • If Ireland beat Wales and England defeat Scotland, then England will be champions.
  • If Ireland beat Wales and England fail to beat Scotland, then Ireland will be champions.
  • If Ireland beat Wales and gain a bonus point and England beat Scotland but don’t gain a bonus point, then England will be champions due to their superior points difference barring an unlikely 65-point swing in Ireland’s favour.

What about the bonus points system?

A bonus point is awarded in the Six Nations if you score four or more tries or if you lose within seven points.

England have been at their attacking best at times in this tournament claiming three bonus points in their matches so far.

But Wales have had to make do with collecting just the four points per win and are yet to get any extras.

England take on Scotland in the final weekend of the Six Nations

Yet, if Warren Gatland’s side go onto win all five matches, they are automatically awarded three bonus points for achieving the Grand Slam.

This would ensure they lift the Six Nations title, even if England get maximum points in their final fixture.

England can only get 20 points at most in tournament, while Wales will get a minimum 23 points if they remain undefeated.

What are the remaining Six Nations fixtures?

Saturday, March 16

Italy v France: 12:30pm, Stadio Olimpico

Wales v Ireland: 2:45pm, Millennium Stadium

England v Scotland: 5pm, Twickenham

Ireland can still win the Six Nations

Ireland 26-14 France: Joe Schmidt’s men maintain faint Six Nations hopes with bonus-point victory over hapless French

10 Mar

Three teams are in contention to win this year’s Six Nations after Ireland kept alive their hopes with a 26-14 victory over France at the Aviva Stadium.

Joe Schmidt’s men also secured a bonus-point win after scoring four tries with the French going over twice in the final five minutes.

However, the Irish will need to win against Wales, who are chasing the Grand Slam, in Cardiff and also need England to not beat Scotland at Twickenham.

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France 27-10 Scotland: Dark Blues lose second game in row, French get first win of 2019 Six Nations campaign

23 Feb

It’s damage limitation for Scotland in their Six Nations campaign as their two-decade wait to win in Paris goes on.

France earned a 27-10 bonus-point victory thanks to tries from Romain Ntamack, Yoaan Huget and Gregory Alldritt’s late double in a game where the injury-hit Dark Blues contributed to their own downfall for the second straight game.

France celebrate their first win of the 2019 championships

Defeat to Ireland a fortnight ago was also self-inflicted and now Gregor Townsend’s men are left with two games against Wales and England – the world’s number four and three ranked sides – to salvage some pride from a Championship that has so far produced only a win over whipping boys Italy.

Townsend has had to contend with a horror casualty list this campaign but the loss of Scotland’s three most dangerous weapons in Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Huw Jones was felt as they struggled for attacking inspiration.

Ali Price’s late score was mere consolation, while France had four tries chalked off as Scotland escaped an even more chastening afternoon.

Scotland had a number of injuries going into the game

Scotland knew a good start was crucial if they were to pile fresh pressure onto Jacques Brunel’s side after their humiliating defeats to Wales and England.

They got a lucky break seven minutes in as a Damian Penaud try was ruled out when the TMO alerted Argentinian referee Nic Berry to Antoine Dupont’s knock-on.

That sparked a furious reaction from the Saint-Denis crowd but they were off their seats cheering just six minutes later as Ntamack marked his first start at fly-half with the opener.

Ntamack went over on 13 minutes

Peter Horne failed to put a kick into touch and that set Thomas Ramos loose. Snaking his way through three tackles, the full-back released Penaud, who then span the ball back inside for Dupont. The scrum-half was pulled down by Nick Grigg before he could score but there was no-one there to stop Ntamack running over.

Ramos converted before putting over a penalty as France put the squeeze on.

It looked to be going horribly wrong for the Scots. Guilhem Guirado halted a promising attack with a thunderous hit on Horne while the ever-dependable Greig Laidlaw hit a straightforward kick off the post.

His next attempt did fly over and when Yoann Huget was sin-binned for illegally playing the ball on the deck, opportunity beckoned for the visitors.

But it was France who came closest to scoring again before the interval. Another Horne mistake as he spilled a high ball looked set to be punished but again the TMO came to Scotland’s rescue as Wenceslas Lauret’s knock-on meant Gael Fickou’s score was chopped off.

Given how many mistakes Scotland had made during the opening 40 minutes, a seven-point deficit was kind.

Scotland made a catalogue of mistakes during the game

But there was to be no repeat of the second-half collapse that saw France throw away a 16-point advantage against Wales in week one as Huget crossed over within a minute of the restart.

Mathieu Bastareaud ghosted past Josh Strauss with an audacious chip over his head. Horne then missed a tackle on Fickou before the ball was worked out to Huget to dance in for a try that made some amends for his blunder that sparked the Welsh comeback.

Adam Hastings took over at 10 from Horne and his introduction finally allowed Scotland to build some pressure but there was no give in Les Bleus’ backline.

Once again the TMO conspired against France as another Fickou touchdown was disallowed but there was no stopping Alldritt as the home pack powered through Scotland’s defence with three minutes left.

Horne broke free to tee up Price for a late score but it was too little too late for Scotland.

There was another TMO review in stoppage time as France chased a bonus point. Their first drive from a line-out was ruled out but Alldritt did get the fourth try as he muscled over from close range.

England 44-8 France: Eddie Jones’ men set for potential Six Nations Grand Slam decider with Wales after trouncing Les Bleus

10 Feb

England made it two wins from two games in their 2019 Six Nations campaign in sumptuous style with a devastating 44-8 victory over France at Twickenham.

Eddie Jones’ men scored six tries in the game – Jonny May getting a hat-trick, while Henry Slade and Owen Farrell also went over and a penalty try completed the rout.

Damian Penaud scored the away side’s sole try with the French losing their opening two games.

The result also means England’s next match against Wales in Cardiff in a fortnight could potentially decide who wins the Grand Slam, with the Welsh and the English the only teams to have won all their games so far.

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France 19-24 Wales: Warren Gatland’s men overturn 16-point deficit to claim incredible Six Nations victory at the Stade de France

1 Feb

Wales staged a remarkable second-half comeback to stun France 24-19 on a memorable opening Six Nations night in Paris.

Warren Gatland’s side trailed 16-0 at the interval, but they responded magnificently to claim a 10th successive win and equal their longest unbeaten run since 1999.

Camile Lopez could not believe France through it away

Tries by scrum-half Tomos Williams and wing George North, who capitalised on opposite number Yoann Huget’s defensive howler, plus two Gareth Anscombe conversions and a Dan Biggar penalty edged Wales ahead following a 15-minute purple patch.

And after France went back in front through a Camille Lopez penalty, North claimed his second try – a stunning 60-metre interception effort that Biggar converted – to give Wales a seventh victory from the last eight starts against France.

Les Bleus dominated the opening 40 minutes, cruising clear through touchdowns by number eight Louis Picamoles and Huget, while Lopez booted a penalty and drop-goal.

But Wales underlined strong Six Nations title credentials with a second-half display so far removed from what preceded it, it was hard to comprehend.

The French opted for a big pack

Wales came under incessant pressure in the early moments as France made light of slippery handling conditions caused by rain that started two hours before kick-off and had not relented.

Backs and forwards combined impressively to leave Wales stuck inside their own 22, and Les Bleus built patiently before working enough space out wide to send Picamoles over for a sixth-minute try.

But there were initial goalkicking concerns for France as Morgan Parra missed an easy conversion attempt and then drifted a long-range penalty wide after Wales launched an opening attack through a strong Jonathan Davies run.

The visitors should have drawn level approaching the half’s midway point after centre Hadleigh Parkes freed full-back Liam Williams.

Liam Williams had a try disallowed in France

Williams dived over the French line and referee Wayne Barnes awarded the try, but as Anscombe was lining up the conversion, television replays were consulted by the official and it was correctly disallowed as Williams knocked on and failed to ground the ball.

And France made Wales pay, scoring their second try just five minutes later after Damian Penaud made initial headway and flanker Arthur Iturria delivered a brilliant one-handed pass to Penaud’s fellow wing Huget, who finished in style.

Parra again failed to add the extras, and Anscombe was no better when it came to accuracy, missing two penalty chances as Wales remained on the back foot.

France went close to claiming a third try as the interval approached, yet Wales infringed and Lopez found the target after taking over kicking duties from his half-back partner, making it 13-0.

Conditions were tough at the Stade de Frances

Anscombe’s miserable half was then completed when he failed to find touch with a defensive clearance, France attacked and Lopez dropped a goal to put Les Bleus 16 points clear and in complete control.

Gatland opted against making any changes at half time, but Wales needed inspiration from somewhere, and they produced nothing during a one-sided opening 40 minutes to suggest it was going to happen.

Right on cue, though, Wales conjured a score from nothing when wing Josh Adams surged clear in midfield and sent Williams over for a try on his Six Nations debut, with Anscombe’s conversion cutting the deficit to nine points.

And it got even better for Wales five minutes later when Huget failed to grasp Parkes’ rolling kick and North pounced for a try that Anscombe converted.

Anscombe and Williams then departed the action, being replaced by Biggar and Gareth Davies, and Wales were denied a third try after number eight Ross Moriarty surged clear, but Barnes had already whistled for midfield crossing.

Biggar put Wales in front for the first time with 18 minutes left, kicking a long-range penalty which set up a frenzied finale as the visitors looked to pull off an improbable win.

But when Wales infringed at a 70th-minute scrum, Lopez kicked a simple penalty and the visitors were once again behind, before North sealed the deal in spectacular fashion.

Wales team news: Tomos Williams to be handed Six Nations debut for opening match at France

30 Jan

Wales scrum-half Tomos Williams is to make his Six Nations debut for Wales’ tournament opener against France on Friday night.

The Cardiff Blues man, who represented his country in six Tests in 2018, has been preferred to Gareth Davies for the Paris game by head coach Warren Gatland.

Williams will be looking to extend Wales unbeaten run to ten games

Two other changes have been made following victory over South Africa in November, with Scarlets prop Rob Evans and Blues flanker Josh Navidi both gaining call-ups.

Evans takes over from Nicky Smith, who has been battling to recover fitness, and Navidi returns after missing this season’s entire autumn series because of injury.

Davies, meanwhile, has shaken off a thigh strain, but he will be among the replacements as Wales target a seventh win from their last eight starts against Les Bleus.

Williams, 24, is partnered at half-back by his Blues colleague Gareth Anscombe, with Dan Biggar joining Davies on the bench.

Number eight Ross Moriarty makes a first appearance since mid-December after being sidelined because of concussion, packing down in the back-row alongside Navidi and openside flanker Justin Tipuric.

Leigh Halfpenny misses out as he continues his recovery from concussion, with Liam Williams retaining full-back duties and George North and Josh Adams being selected on the wings.

And Scarlets hooker Ken Owens will become his country’s most capped player in that position, making a 61st appearance and overtaking Matthew Rees’ record.

Victory for Wales at Stade de France would extend their unbeaten run to 10 games, matching a longest winning sequence since 1999.

Wales beat the likes of Australia and South Africa during the Autumn Internationals

They have not lost since Ireland beat them during last season’s Six Nations.

Gatland said: “We are looking forward to kicking off the Six Nations and kicking off our 2019 campaign as a whole.

“We come into the game on an impressive run of results, but we know how tough it will be to face France in Paris in the tournament opener.

“It will be a huge contest, but we are excited going into it.

“We have a great deal of experience across the team and on the bench, and we want to kick things off well on Friday.”

Wales team to play France on Friday:

L Williams (Saracens); G North (Ospreys), J Davies (Scarlets), H Parkes (Scarlets), J Adams (Worcester); G Anscombe (Cardiff Blues), T Williams (Cardiff Blues); R Evans (Scarlets), K Owens (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), A Beard (Ospreys), A W Jones (Ospreys, capt), J Navidi (Cardiff Blues), J Tipuric (Ospreys), R Moriarty (Dragons).

Replacements: E Dee (Dragons), W Jones (Scarlets), S Lee (Scarlets), C Hill (Dragons), A Wainwright (Dragons), G Davies (Scarlets), D Biggar (Northampton), O Watkin (Ospreys).

Six Nations 2019: Full squad lists for England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy ahead of third round games

24 Jan

Wales can win the 2019 Six Nations Championship this weekend and claim Grand Slam glory.

Here’s the full squad list of every country ahead of the final round of action.

Owen Farrell and England will be hoping for Six Nations glory this year

England squad

Daly, Nowell, Slade, Tuilagi, May, Farrell, Youngs, Moon, George, Sinckler, Launchbury, Kruis, Wilson, Curry, B Vunipola

Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Genge, Cole, Shields, Hughes, Spencer, Ford, Te’o

Scotland beat England to win the Calcutta Cup last year

Scotland squad

Maitland, Graham, Grigg, Johnson, McGuigan, Russell, Price, Dell, McInally, Nel, Toolis, Gilchrist, Skinner, Watson, Bradbury

Replacements: Brown, Reid, Berghan, J Gray, Strauss, Laidlaw, Hastings, Harris.

Wales take on France to kick off the 2019 Six Nations

Wales squad

L. Williams, North, J. Davies, Parkes, Adams, Anscombe, G. Davies, R. Evans, Owens, Francis, Beard, A. Jones, Navidi, Tipuric, Moriarty.

Replacements: Dee, Smith, Lewis, Ball, Wainwright, A. Davies, Biggar, Watkin.

Ireland won the Six Nations last year

Ireland squad

Kearney, Earls, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale, Sexton, Murray, Healy, Best, Furlong, Beirne, J. Ryan, O’Mahony, O’Brien, Stander.

Replacements: Scannell, Kilcoyne, Porter, Roux, Conan, Marmion, Carty, Larmour.

Can France win the Six Nations this season?

France squad

Medard, Penaud, Bastareaud, Fofana, Huget, Ntamack, Dupont, Falgoux, Guirado, Bamba, Lambey, Willemse, Alldritt, Camara, Picamoles.
Replacements: Chat, Priso, Aldegheri, Gabrillagues, Iturria, Serin, Lopez, Ramos.

Italy star Sergio Parisse

Italy squad

Hayward, Padovani, Zanon, Morisi, Esposito, Allan, Tebaldi, Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Pasquali, Sisi, Ruzza, Steyn, Polledri, Parisse.
Replacements: Bigi, Traore, Ferrari, Zanni, Negri, Palazzani, McKinley, Sperandio.

French rugby stars to wear rainbow laces in support of Gareth Thomas

21 Nov

France’s rugby team will wear rainbow laces when they meet Fiji in Paris on Saturday to show support for Gareth Thomas.

Former Wales captain Thomas was the victim of a homophobic attack in Cardiff’s city centre last weekend.

Rainbow laces are part of a campaign in support of the LGBT community

A message of support for the 44-year-old, who played in France for Toulouse from 2004 to 2007, was posted on Twitter by Serge Simon, the vice-president of the French Rugby Federation.

“All of French Rugby is with you regarding the homophobic molestation you’ve been victim of,” Simon said.

“To show our support, the French rugby players will wear a rainbow shoe lace during the France – Fiji game on Saturday night.

“We’re all in with you in this matter.”

In response, Thomas said: “To the French Rugby Federation, merci.

“The players wearing rainbow laces in solidarity is an immense sign of inclusion.”

On Sunday Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009, posted a video to Twitter in which he thanked the police and the people of Cardiff for their support following the attack.

He also said he had opted to deal with his attacker, a 16-year-old boy, using restorative justice, when a victim talks to the perpetrator about the harm they have caused, “because I thought they could learn more that way than any other way.”

Thomas added: “There are a lot of people out there who want to hurt us, but unfortunately for them there are a lot more who want to help us heal, so this I hope will be a positive message.”

Wales 14-13 France: Hosts cling on to finish as Six Nations runners up

18 Mar

Wales 14-13 France: Hosts cling on to finish as Six Nations runners up

Wales edged out France at the Principality Stadium, winning 14-13 to seal second place in this year’s Six Nations Championship.

Leigh Halfpenny hit a hat-trick of penalties and Leigh Williams crossed the line as the Dragons completed a clean sweep of home victories.

France had opened the scoring through a Francois Trinh-Duc drop-goal before a Williams try and two Halfpenny penalties swung the match in the home side’s favour.

Gael Fickou crossed for a brilliant try, converted by Maxime Machenaud, to keep the visitors in the game before another Halfpenny penalty for Warren Gatland’s side.

The second half was a dour affair, with a Machenaud penalty the sole score as Wales hung on for a narrow triumph.

Warren Gatland’s side finished behind Grand Slam winners Ireland in the Six Nations table, with with Scotland finishing third, France fourth, England fifth and Italy with the wooden spoon.