Referee Nigel Owens takes charge of his 100th test match in Paris. An incredible race for one of the most recognizable characters in the game.
But while we’re used to seeing the Welshman in the thick of the Test action, there are some big changes going on with the French side.
It was inevitable at one point, we were going to see an unknown French team. Due to the nature of the agreement between the French Federation and the National Rugby League (LNR), BluesThe top players were only going to have three games to show their business this fall. And now, it’s time to move on.
And as France confirms again that they are aiming for a final weekend showdown with England, they are also naming a squad of 23 with 11 newcomers to take on Italy.
Visitors have already expressed their intention to gain experience for 2023, much of this group continues to find their feet. There are two potential newbies on the bench, but they’re such a strong team that coach Franco Smith can muster, given his plan for the years to come. They will again be led in an offensive direction by the fly half Paolo Garbisi, 20 years old.
The biggest shame is that Smith can’t select back rowers Jake Polledri, who required knee surgery, and Seb Negri, who has a thigh complaint.
A minute of silence will also take place before Saturday’s match in memory of French hero Christophe Dominici, who sadly passed away this week. French players will wear his nickname “Domi” on their sleeves.
What’s the big news from the team?
There are 13 different names in the French starting squad, compared to their game against Scotland. Half-fly Jalibert and winger Teddy Thomas are the only players to be retained in the starting lineup. In the pack Peato Mauvaka is the most experienced international with – expect it – four caps to his name.
There are more familiar faces coming back to the group for more test recognition. Jonathan Danty and Brice Dulin are back on the big stage while all-round sportsman Sekou Macalou is back in the French fold for the first time since 2017. It could be a change for that back row – the forwards on the bench are all normally the five guys.
Interestingly, among the new selections there are two players familiar to fans of Seven: JP Barraque, named in the center, and Gabin Villière, inscribed on the wing.
And what a moment for Baptiste Serin, captain of the team.
Matteo Minozzi is the most experienced trident of the third Italian trident – Jacopo Trulla will only get his second cap, while Luca Sperandio will win the seventh cap after coming to replace Mattia Bellini.
In fact, there’s a bit of a theme of greener talent paired in position with more weathered players. For example, without changing from the last outing, Carlo Canna obtains his 46th selection, in the centers alongside Marco Zanon who should get his third selection.
You may remember the 2019 Six Nations, when Zanon had the chance to score a try which, if converted, would lead Italy to France in the finals. However, Damien Penaud forced the center to strike in the act of going for the try line. France won this meeting.
Then there is the back row. Shorn of Polledri and Negri, Maxime Mbanda and Johan Meyer come to help Braam Steyn. The trio will have to work skillfully and in synergy against the all-action trio that France will have selected.
What did the coaches say?
France head coach Fabien Galthie said of his captain, Serin: “Baptiste is very committed. He is calm, he handles the burden very well. He looks forward to leading this team and leading by example.
“He’s a kind of intermediary who willingly passes on all his knowledge to this group and with a lot of energy. It suits us very well! When you’re at our level, you need to be ready anywhere, anytime. Baptiste has already shown us that he is able to adapt to the most complex situations, which he knows how to manage. Players who complete have a complicated mission – players who are new to it too. “
Italy boss Franco Smith said: “We have had extra days to better prepare for this meeting. The forced stop last week further increased our desire to take the field on Saturday against France. It will be an intense match where we have the opportunity to see interesting young people at work as we move forward to expand the base at our disposal and build our DNA.
- A victory in Paris would be France’s fifth consecutive victory in the Test
- 1997 – the year Italy won in France for the first (and only) time
- 145kg – the weight of the replacement propeller of France Uini Atonio, according to the profile of his team at Stade La Rochelle
- Substitute hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini is the only player from this Italian team to beat France (in 2013)
- On 19 occasions since 2000, more than 40 points have been scored when these two meet
What time does it start and is it on TV?
France – Italy, Saturday November 28, Stade de France
The match will start at 8:10 pm and will be broadcast live on Amazon Prime Video in the UK and Premier Sports in Ireland.
If you’re outside of the UK and Ireland, check out our guide to Fall Nations Cup coverage around the world.
Nigel Owens of Wales is the referee of this match – calling his 100th test match. Matthew Carley (England) and Mike Adamson (Scotland) are his assistants, while Sam Grove-White (Scotland) is the TMO.
What are the line-ups?
France: Brice Dulin; Teddy Thomas, Jean-Pascal Barraque, Jonathan Danty, Gabin Villière; Matthieu Jalibert, Baptiste Serin (captain); Rodrigue Neti, Peato Mauvaka, Dorian Aldegheri, Kilian Geraci, Baptiste Pesenti, Cameron Woki, Sekou Macalou, Anthony Jelonch.
Substitutes: Teddy Baubigny, Hassane Kolingar, Uini Atonio, Cyril Cazeaux, Swan Rebbadj, Baptiste Couilloud, Louis Carbonel, Yoram Moefana.
Italy: Matteo Minozzi; Jacopo Trulla, Marco Zanon, Carlo Canna, Luca Sperandio; Paolo Garbisi, Marcello Violi; Danilo Fischetti, Luca Bigi, Giosue Zilocchi, Marco Lazzaroni, Niccolo Cannone, Maxime Mbanda, Johan Meyer, Braam Steyn.
Substitutes: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Simone Ferrari, Pietro Ceccarelli, Cristian Stoian, Michele Lamaro, Stephen Varney, Tommaso Allan, Federico Mori.
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