Italy say missed penalty to beat France ‘should have been taken again’ after last-gasp heartbreak

Italy denied historic win over France after late penalty miss
Despair for Italy's Mirco Spagnolo at the final whistle - Reuters/Yves Herman

The width of the post and a wobbling ball separated Italy from history. After trailing 10-0 early on against the worst French showing of the Fabien Galthié era, Ange Capuozzo’s stunning second-half try, one of the greatest in Italy’s history, tied the scores against an abject France reeling from a red card to centre Jonathan Danty.

With time running out, Les Bleus were clinging on, treading water in their own half. That was until flanker Manuel Zuliani popped up with a crucial holding-on penalty and gave fly-half Paolo Garbisi a 35-metre shot at goal which would have secured Italy’s first victory over France since 2013.

Garbisi allowed the clock to continue ticking well beyond the 80th minute, but as he approached the ball to strike, an inauspicious gust ravaged the roofed stadium in Lille, and it fell from its tee. French players – some of whom looked to have encroached the requisite 10 metres between kicker and defensive team – were confused; Garbisi was confused, and so were the 50,000 inside the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

With the shot-clock ticking, referee Christophe Ridley, officiating his first Six Nations match, urged the Italy fly-half to quickly reapply the ball to the tee. With anticipation and anxiety hanging in the air, Garbisi’s rushed kick collided with the post, Yoram Moefana attempted the limpest counter-attack before being bundled into touch and ending the match.

Italy’s players, who had been tremendous, courageous and rampageous, laid strewn, spent on the Lille turf, while France’s players offered each other pats on the back out of relief more than congratulation. Italy did admit their frustrations at the match’s thrilling denouement, but even if Ridley is adjudged to have erred at the last, the Englishman refereed marvellously otherwise.

“If you look back at it now then definitely the kick should have been given again,” Marius Goosen, Italy defence coach, told Telegraph Sport. “But we all know in that pressure-cooker situation, as a referee, it’s not that easy to always make the right call. In hindsight, it should have been given again, but there are no complaints.”

Gonzalo Quesada, Italy’s head coach, added: “I was coming down the stairs, waiting for the noise. I only saw that [Paolo] went down and put it back. Then I heard my staff complaining they were charging, it was a penalty and [they] cannot charge. The first reaction is to be frustrated if that’s the case.

“I have no complaints, but it’s a bit frustrating to know that last penalty that we won, we couldn’t take advantage in normal conditions. But we’ll still open a bottle of champagne.”

Italy should have won before the 80th minute and when Capuozzo crossed the feeling was that they would. That try was one of the most majestic that the Azzurri have ever concocted, beginning from a scrum in their 22 and ending with Capuozzo, the hero in Cardiff two years ago, dotting down in the corner.

The poise and timing of Juan Ignacio Brex should be savoured for years; so, too, the bulldozing brutality of Tommaso Menoncello. Ross Vintcent was not involved in the try but the Exeter No 8, in his second cap, had a game for the ages, too.

What now for France, whose championship hopes have been all but ended by the lack of victory? Galthié’s 2019 arrival as head coach brought about a nouvelle vague for Les Bleus, but that has swiftly turned into a nouvelle gag: a quarter-final exit in a home World Cup and now only one victory in three in the Six Nations, with Wales and England to come.

Owing to construction works at the Stade de France ahead of this summer’s Olympics the match took place in Lille, a city famed for its annual flea market, but France’s showing here could barely even be described as second hand.

Les Bleus began with purpose, establishing a 10-0 lead thanks to a converted close-range score from skipper Charles Ollivon and a penalty from Thomas Ramos, but their execution deteriorated.

The profligacy of Galthié‘s side was unforgivable, with an intent-to-execution ratio so atrocious that it almost made England’s performance at Murrayfield look like a paragon of accuracy. Six times in the first half, with a whopping 77 per cent possession, France created respectable scoring chances and six times they were butchered.

“You have to be resilient when you experience difficult moments – and that’s what we’re experiencing right now,” said Galthié.

Shortly before half-time, fly-half Matthieu Jalibert departed injured and Danty was sent off for a shoulder to the head of Brex, for which the centre could have no complaints.

Ordinarily, this disruption could be used as a scapegoat but France were all at sea anyway.

Italy grew, with Martin Page-Relo slotting a long-range penalty to send them into the break trailing by just seven points.

Ramos’s penalty at the start of the second half did not feel crucial at the time, but how it would be by the time of Capuozzo’s dashing dart and Garbisi’s agonising attempt at goal.

Italy depart with hope; France leave harrowed.

Garbisi’s missed penalty denies Italy victory, as it happened

05:31 PM GMT

That's all from us..

Charles’ full report from Lille will be dropping shortly, thanks for joining us.

05:30 PM GMT

Ross Vintcent "proud" of Italy's display

It’s gutting to see it hit the posts. But I don’t think it takes away from the performance out there from the boys. We can be proud of that performance despite the result.

On whether he’ll go back to his Domino’s job:

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be playing in front of this many people. I’m not saying Domino’s shifts are over indefinitely, that’s for sure. There’s something brimming here and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

05:23 PM GMT

Garbisi: 'I take full responsibility'

Garbisi tells ITV’s Topsy Ojo:

I was thinking about trusting my recess. It’s part of my job to put the kick over. I take full responsibility for that. I’m sorry for the team as I thought they were amazing today and I’m sorry to the Italian fans. It’s my bad.”

Paolo Garbisi rushes his last-gasp penalty as Italy are denied a famous win - David Rogers/Getty Images Europe
Garbisi can't believe it - David Rogers/Getty Images Europe
Garbisi is consoled by teammates - David Rogers/Getty Images Europe

05:10 PM GMT

Draw will feel like a defeat for Italy

Italy were on the verge of greatness but this draw will feel like a defeat. They’ll - or maybe just Garbisi - will be bitterly disappointed with how that last minute played out. They made it harder for themselves even with the extra man - their  first period of multi-phase play didn’t come until Capuozzo’s try - and arguably deserved to sneak a win.

As for France, where do they go from here? Their discipline has completely gone down the pan and they look a shadow of the side who were practically level-pegging with Ireland this time last year.

04:57 PM GMT

The moment Italy could have sealed it

04:53 PM GMT

Full time 13-13 Italy

What an extraordinary match, which ends in the most dramatic fashion. France and Italy share the spoils for the first time in the Six Nations. The cameras pan to Garbisi and there is a wry smile on his face. He had a chance to snatch a historic victory there and the pressure got the better of him. What drama.

Telegraph Rugby writer Charlie Morgan can’t believe it what he’s just witnessed.

04:52 PM GMT

82 mins Garbisi misses!

Garbisi takes a long, hard look at the posts.. the ball falls off the tee and the stop clock is winding dangerously down. In the end Garbisi is forced to rush his kick! He has five seconds left as he steps forward to take it.. he strikes and it clips the upright! Moefana gathers the rebound and wheels away but is shoved into touch. And that’s it. In a cruel twist of sporting fate, Italy are denied a famous victory.

04:50 PM GMT

80 mins France 13-13 Italy

Penaud tries to skate round the outside but Italy’s brave defence flies up - Varney stifles him - and France walk into heavy traffic and wow, they concede a penalty! Italy get their hands on the ball - Manuel Zuliani is the hero. They’ll have a kick at goal for glory.. on the bench, Danty is grimacing.

04:47 PM GMT

77 mins France 13-13 Italy

No was not the time for Italy to lose their first lineout of the match. Another gilt-edged opportunity gone. France immediately counter through Penaud, who drives infield after dancing down his flank. France are playing for their reputation here... while Italy are going for glory. What a compelling end to this disjointed contest this is turning out to be.

04:45 PM GMT

75 mins France 13-13 Italy

Leonardo Marin does brilliantly to deal with a probing French kick at the back. This game has suddenly sprung into life and the noise inside the stadium has increased ten-fold... as Italy win anther penalty from a monstrous scrum. They’re going for the win here..

04:40 PM GMT

Try Italy!

Dark blue shirts set up a rolling maul.. but Italy throw everything behind it and they force a huge penalty from France. They recycle quickly from the scrum and Varney shapes some lovely free-flowing attack through the middle of the park with Brex streaming away. Italy are really asking questions.. they continue to build the phases and after a flurry of hefty carries Leonardo Marin flings an offload to Ange Capuozzo, who pounces! Garbisi adds the extras. 13-13. Game on.

04:33 PM GMT

65 mins France 13-6 Italy

This is a good attacking spell from the Italians but they become a bit too flat and Le Garrec aims to make a credible interception - it’s completely legal - and another effort from the visitors is snuffed out.

04:31 PM GMT

63 mins France 13-6 Italy

More intent from Italy.. they come again from the restart and Moefana slaps the ball down as Ioane burrows in-field after a savvy run from Capuozzo and Italy work it out wide to Menoncello, who is enjoying a lot more ball-time in this half....but oh Federico Ruzza fumbles the ball up and makes a mess of it at the base of the ruck.

04:28 PM GMT

61 mins France 13-6 Italy

Italy are really struggling to make the extra man count.. but have succeeded in making a bit of a dent into France’s defence. Gianmarco Lucchesi, the replacement hooker, feigns to splinter off an Italian maul - he pretends to carry the ball and it’s an act that is absolutely outrageous and brilliant, but he didn’t need to as Italy win another pen as France infringe. Garbisi steps up and belts it over. It’s now a seven-point game with 20 minutes to go.

04:24 PM GMT

57 mins France 13-3 Italy

For the first time in this match, we’re treated to an Ange Capuozzo run. He wheels up the field and arrows a looping pass out to the wing but it creeps forward.

04:23 PM GMT

54 mins France 13-3 Italy

Stephen Varney drills a low box kick down the park and it sails into French hands, inviting more French pressure. The hosts come forward and Moefana makes some good ground as France look to hit their straps. Again, they spurn another chance, as Ollivon is penalised for being off his feet at the ruck.

04:18 PM GMT

51 mins France 13-3 Italy

Sébastien Taofifenua’s first touch and he’s stripped of the ball.. France have a bit more bite about them but they’re lacking their usual stardust, as another attacking endeavour fizzles out.

04:16 PM GMT

48 mins France 13-3 Italy

Italy look to create something..they’re lacking that spark at the moment and look devoid of ideas in attack. Ramos and Page-Relo scrap over a 50-50 ball. The Italian claims it and quick hands find Menocello, who chips and races through behind France’s backs but he’s put too much on it and it trickles out into touch. France have rung their first changes - Baille and Tuilagi are off - and brothers Sébastien Taofifenua and Romain Taofifenua are on as part of a flurry of changes - Lucu’s afternoon is also done - Nolann Le Garrec comes onto the field. He announces himself with a box kick that flies straight into touch...

04:11 PM GMT

44 mins France 13-3 Italy

It’s France who start the brighter side, seemingly galvanized by that Danty red card. Lebel goes on a jinking run and there’s a fantastic touch from Cros, who has been one of France’s more productive forwards, and Italy leak another penalty. Ramos converts with ease.

04:09 PM GMT

41 mins France 10-3 Italy

We’re back underway in Lille. An intriguing second half awaits as 14-man France forced to adjust.

04:06 PM GMT

Jonathan Danty sent off

The bunker review is in...and Danty’s yellow has been upgraded to a red. A high level of danger with no mitigation.

04:04 PM GMT

Nervous wait for Danty

Here’s the incident on Brex. If Danty’s yellow is upgraded to a red, it could blow this game wide open. France have already had to rejig their whole backline given Jalibert’s premature exit.

04:00 PM GMT

France fail to turn pressure into points

It all started so well for France - but it is unravelling. Les Bleus do not look comfortable and only lead by seven at the break despite having dominated almost all facets of the match. France have been beyond profligate, which is feeding Italy’s belief. The visitors, for their part, ended the half strongly and caused the French defence problems.

That Azzurri desire will gather added fuel should Jonathan Danty’s bunker-reviewed yellow card be upgraded to red. From my view to the stadium screens, there did not look like much mitigation in the centre’s defence. This could be a nervy 40 minutes for France, who have not lost to Italy in 11 years.

03:56 PM GMT

Half-time France 10-3 Italy

Paolo Garbisi tries to get the better of Mathieu Jalibert - France 10-3 Italy/AFP
Posalo Tuilagi has stood out for France on his first Test start - DENIS CHARLET/AFP

03:52 PM GMT

42 mins France 10-3 Italy

Italy for go the posts and Page-Relo just about squeezes in the penalty. Italy, who failed to register a single point against Ireland, are up and running in Lille after 42 long minutes.

03:50 PM GMT

42 mins France 10-0 Italy

Ian Tempest is the man upstairs and takes little time to send Dante to the bin. Right the decision, the big centre never gets low and his body is upright as he hits Brex. No change of direction either and doesn’t bend at the hips. Can’t really argue with that.

03:48 PM GMT

39 mins France 10-0 Italy

Garbisi almost snakes through.... as Italy look to end this half with a flourish. Poor Brex has just been absolutely floored by Danty, who has been everywhere this half. Think the TMO might be looking at that.

03:44 PM GMT

36 mins France 10-0 Italy

Tuilagi might be 150kg but he can sure use his feet - he audaciously side steps past Italy as France begin to throw the kitchen sink at Italy. Surely they’re in here - Cros has a go but Italy complete another defensive shut-out. In other news, Jalibert is off.  That looks bad - he leaves the field and is being helped by two physios. Yoram Moefana, an out and out centre, comes on in his place. That’s a sizeable blow for France, who are already without Romain Ntamack at ten.

03:38 PM GMT

33 mins France 10-0 Italy

France pour forward again - Danty feeds Penaud who tries to guillotine Italy’s defence - but Lamaro sees nobody is at home, steals the ball and Italy clear. In other news, Jalibert is down injured, clutching his knee..

03:36 PM GMT

30 mins France 10-0 Italy

Italy eventually clear after holding their own at scrum time, but are powerless to muster up anything that tests France’s mettle. They’re deploying a short lineout - they’re clearly trying to keep as many henchmen out wide - but it’s not really firing at the moment, as France regain possession and Ramos releases Penaud with a peach of a flat pass - the winger steams onto it - and he tries to chip the Italy defence but it flops into touch.

03:33 PM GMT

28 mins France 10-0 Italy

Italy are trying to walk it out of their own 22 and make a right mess of it - France strip the ball and spring into action as Italy scramble to stop them. Fickou is forced back by Cannone, before Penaud tries to muscle his way through after Tuilagi spreads the ball - he gets it back - and launches himself at the Italian line. In the end it comes to nothing, as Jalibert spills the ball.

03:30 PM GMT

25 mins France 10-0 Italy

Jalibert looks up and sees no one at home for Italy. He kicks and it’s a terrible defensive set from Italy. Ioane is quickly ambushed as he offloads to Brex, whose attempt at a clearance kick is charged down and France gobble up possession! Italy just do enough to thrarwt Ollivon, who knocks on. Big scrum for Italy five metres off their line.

03:27 PM GMT

24 mins France 10-0 Italy

Peato Mauvaka makes a good bit of ground as France camp themselves in Italy’s 22. You feel another one could be coming here. Danty punches a hole through the middle and then Ollivon straightens up. Baille has a go, as Lucu opts to go right to Tuilagi. Space is running out so France spin the other way... before Jalibert looks to find Lebel on his wing but he’s put too much on it.

03:24 PM GMT

Atonio watch

Erm... France have just deployed Uini Atonio, their gargantuan tighthead, as a crash-ball inside centre off a line-out. Terrifying.

03:23 PM GMT

18 mins France 10-0 Italy

Jalibert gains some good field position, followed by a mammoth carry from Atonio. He looks like a train steaming through Italy’s defence. The teams engage in a fruitless kicking exchange - Ange Capuozzo launches a missile downfield - should he have had a run there?

03:20 PM GMT

14 mins France 10- 0 Italy

Italy look to create something from the restart and Ross Vintcent - who has looked lively so far - bristles forward after a great ball out the back from Nicotera. France get done for a high tackle but the visitors’ attack breaks down in the ensuing passage - Danty with a big turnover.

03:17 PM GMT

12 mins France 10- 0 Italy

A brief pause in play.. but Italy come unstuck at another scrum and concede the penalty. Ramos lines one up and boots it over. A handsome start from France.

03:13 PM GMT

12 mins France 7- 0 Italy

Brex launches a missile of a kick downfield but his effort trickles over the try line. Italy look a bit bereft of shape at the Danty continues throwing his weight around the park.. and out of nowhere France counter! Tuilagi puts Jallibert through a gap and he cruises through. The fly-half goes on a dizzying run before offloading to Fikou on his shoulder - the centre is quickly brought to ground but  France keep it alive and he throws a netball pass out the back to Penaud but it’s all a bit rushed as the hosts work the ball cross field and the ball trickles into touch.

03:11 PM GMT

7 mins Try France!

Italy knock on - they really can’t afford to be doing that too much this afternoon with France’s 961kg starting pack - and France tear forward from the scrum. Boudehent does the vital work - he picks and goes before Italy can blink and the ball is popped up to Ollivon, who initially fumbles the ball but looks to have peeped over the line. TMO says there’s no clear knock on and... France get the opening try.

03:06 PM GMT

Ref watch

With the anthems finished, Christophe Ridley - the Englishman refereeing his first Six Nations match today - goes to shake the hand of his fellow countryman and assistant, Matthew Carley, but the latter drops his flag and embraces today’s match official. A touching moment.

03:05 PM GMT

4 mins France 0 - 0 Italy

Italy done for coming in at the side as France get a maul chugging along and motor in field. Jallibert tries his luck with a dink over the top but it comes to nothing and we come back for the penalty.

03:04 PM GMT

2 mins France 0 - 0 Italy

Italy strike first and win a breakdown penalty and set up shop in France’s half. They make quick work of their first lineout and recycle speedily...Garbisi feeds Brex and Mori goes charging into the French forwards, as Italy lay siege to France’s 22 but the hosts deal with it effectively with a savvy poach.

03:01 PM GMT

Kick off!

France’s jallibert kicks off and we’re underway. A big day for 30-year-old English referee Christophe Ridley, who is taking charge of his first Test match today.

02:58 PM GMT

Anthem time

Italy belt theirs out with the usual gusto - there’s a few customary tears -  and a packed house belts out La Marseillaise in perfect unison. The roof is definitely fermé.

02:55 PM GMT

The roof is closed for this one

Oh, and the roof is closed here in Lille, something that was announced quite subtly on Friday. No fuss, no fanfare - as it should be.

02:54 PM GMT

The teams walk out.. fireworks and fanfare. KO coming up shortly.

02:51 PM GMT

Italy out to dampen hosts' spirit

A mediocre start to the Six Nations and a quarter-final exit at their own World Cup has done nothing to pacify a nation which is still gripped by rugby fever. The Stade Pierre-Mauroy is absolutely rocking here in Lille and, 20 minutes before kick-off, the capacity crowd was treated to a Frenchman screaming maniacally down a microphone, whipping the stadium up into a frenzy.

Let’s hope the rugby matches; although Italy will be out to dampen the hosts’ spirit.

02:47 PM GMT

Gonzalo Quesada ready for ‘huge’ challenge

The Italy head coach, who is well liked in France having enjoyed coaching stints at Racing-Metro, Stade Francais, Biarritz, tells ITV’s Topsy Ojo:

Today is a huge challenge. We knew this since day one. We’ve worked well during the week. We had a good half against England and showed some character and spirit against Ireland to only lose by 36.

On making six changes:

A lot of our changes are due to injuries. It’s tough, I would have loved to have more continuity and some experience on the bench. Hopefully today we won’t have any more injuries, but I think we have a lot of balance in the team.

02:32 PM GMT

Put your questions to Wayne Barnes

A gentle reminder we’re running a live Q+A with Wayne Barnes tomorrow morning at 11am.

Telegraph Sport is providing subscribers with the opportunity to put their questions to our columnist and former international rugby referee Wayne Barnes. More details here.

02:29 PM GMT

Dupont makes winning start to sevens life

France are still figuring out how to do life without Antoine Dupont, widely acclaimed as the world’s best rugby player, who has skipped this year’s Six Nations as he bids to win Olympic gold in Paris this summer.

The 27-year-old former World Player of the Year got his sevens career off to a bang this weekend at the SVNS competition in Vancouver, where he scored a last-gasp match-winning try against Ireland to earn France a place in the semi-finals. France face New Zealand in the semi-finals just after 9pm tonight.

Antoine Dupont got his sevens career off to a flyer at the SVNS event in Vancouver - Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

02:22 PM GMT

Stat attack

France have won 45 of their 48 meetings with Italy including their last 14 in a row, with their 94% win rate their best against any nation they have faced more than times. France’s biggest-ever win over Italy came in their last meeting, 60-7 at the Rugby World Cup.

France have lost their last two Tests on home soil, they have not lost three in a row at home since 1998-99 and have not lost consecutive home matches in the Six Nations since the 2012-13 season.

02:18 PM GMT

The Domino’s delivery driver in Italy's ranks

What a day for Ross Vintcent, the Exeter Chiefs flanker and Dominos delivery driver who has been rewarded with a first Test start for Italy.

Born in Johannesburg to South African parents, the second-year undergraduate at the University of Exeter is eligible for an Italian passport and qualifies for the Azzurri through his maternal grandfather - but he has always felt indebted to Italy’s rugby federation since they took a punt on him in 2020.

Check out this lovely read on Vintcent’s back story - including his job delivering Pepperoni Passions and Mighty Meatys -from one of our resident rugby reporters, Charles Richardson, who is on the ground in Lille.

02:09 PM GMT

France need momentum

A fortnight on from edging Scotland at Murrayfield with a controversial win, France will be desperate to build some much-needed momentum with a credible victory over the Azzurri.

After being put to the sword by Ireland in the opening round, Fabien Galthie’s men have been lacking their usual firepower in this year’s championship. They are clearly missing the X factor provided by Antoine Dupont, the poster boy of French rugby, who made a winning start to life as a sevens player this weekend at the the SVNS event in Vancouver.

Against an Italy side who are on a run of seven successive Six Nations defeats, France will be heavy favourites to get the job done at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille. A handsome win could thrust back into the fight for the title.

That said, Italy have demonstrated glimpses of the progress made under new head coach Gonzalo Quesada after a woeful World Cup campaign.

They claimed a losing bonus point against England on the opening weekend and made Steve Borthwick’s side labour to a win. But they failed to get on the scoreboard in Dublin, where they suffered a bruising 36-0 loss to a high-flying Ireland side that barely got out of second gear.

Italy will also have painful memories of their last meeting with France - they were hammered 60-7 at last year’s World Cup in Lyon by the tournament hosts - and will be desperate to prove a point.

Given the green shoots the Azzurri are showing under Quesada - coupled with France’s underwhelming start to the championship - we can expect today’s contest to be more of a competitive affair.

Gael Fickou and Charles Ollivon during France's win over Scotland at Murrayfield - Stu Forster/Getty Images Europe

01:58 PM GMT

A reminder of today's teams

France XV: T Ramos; D Penaud, G Fickou, J Danty, M Lebel; M Jalibert, M Lucu; C Baille, P Mauvaka, U Atonio, C Woki, P Tuilagi, P Boudehent, C Ollivon, F Cros.

Replacements: J Marchand, S Taofifenua, D Aldegheri, RTaofifenua, A Roumat, E Abadie, N Le Garrec, Y Moefana.

Italy XV: A Capuozzo; T Menoncello, J Ignacio Brex, F Mori, M Ioane; P Garbisi, M Page-Relo; D Fischetti, G Nicotera, G Zilocchi, N Cannone, F Ruzza, R Favretto, M Lamaro, R Vintcent.

Replacements: G Lucchesi, M Spagnolo, S Ferrari, M Canali, A Zambonin, M Zuliani, S Varney, L Marin.

01:45 PM GMT

Good afternoon

Hello and welcome to coverage of France v Italy in the Six Nations.

Ahead of the match, France assistant coach Laurent Sempere has praised Posolo Tuilagi for his energy as the lock prepares to make his first start for Les Bleus.

The 19-year-old has been named in the starting XV for today’s Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy clash at Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille. Tuilagi has featured from the bench in both games so far and co-coach Sempere was full of praise for the teenager.

He said: “Posolo is one of the players who brought a lot of energy at the end of the match in Scotland, which he had already done when he came on against Ireland.

“Today we decided that he should start the game against Italy. It was his performances during training with us, and at each of his appearances, that ensured that he won this starter jersey.”

The Azzurri have not beaten France in 11 years, with their last win coming in February 2013 in Rome - since when Les Bleus have won 14 straight meetings.

Having lost their opening two games to England and Ireland, Italy are at the foot of the table and are searching for their first win of this year’s campaign.

Gonzalo Quesada has shuffled the pack for the clash as inside centre Federico Mori returns to the XV for the first time in nearly two years and scrum-half Martin Page-Relo makes his first Six Nations start.

Zebre second-rower Matteo Canali could make his debut from the bench, while Ross Vintcent and Riccardo Favretto are also handed their first starts. In a late change, Matthis Lebel has replaced left winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey for France.

The French rugby federation did not say why Bielle-Biarrey was ruled out but reports said he hurt his neck on Saturday.

Lebel was not initially in the matchday 23 and was set to play for his club side Toulouse today but he could make his sixth test appearance and add to his two international tries.

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