The 2023 Six Nations champions return to the international area looking to send a pivotal year for French rugby off to the perfect start.
Fabien Galthe's Bleus get the defence of their Grand Slam title underway against Italy – a side who have also made significant strides during the past 12 months.
France had a remarkable 2022, winning all 10 of their games in a calendar year that began with a Grand Slam title in the Six Nations as they swept aside all before them.
They continued their hot streak with victories over South Africa and Australia and two wins over Japan.
🇫🇷 How to score a try from the 22 courtesy of @FranceRugby 🌪️#GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/HuJPfVioiP— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) January 26, 2023
Italy are another side on the up, having beaten Wales 22-21 in last year's final round of Six Nations matches to record their first win in the tournament for 36 straight games.
Victories over Portugal, Romania and Samoa followed, as well as a defeat to Georgia. The Azzurri then pulled off yet another massive shock to down Australia 28-27 in Florence, defeating the Wallabies for the first time.
(𝗥)home matches feel different 🇮🇹#Italrugby#insieme #rugbypassioneitaliana pic.twitter.com/iBu2HyDxsw— Italrugby (@Federugby) February 4, 2023
The match between these two sides in last year's Six Nations, which was also played on the opening weekend, was dominated by Les Bleus, who ran away 37-10 winners in Saint-Denis.
Toulon winger Gabin Villiere crossed for a hat-trick of tries, with Anthony Jelonch and Damian Penaud also scoring as France made a strong start to their 2022 campaign.
Italy, however, did notch the opener through Tommaso Menoncello, who became the youngest try scorer in the history of the tournament.
Kieran Crowley's side have been rewarded for trusting heavily in youthful, up-and-coming players in recent years, so this fixture may act as a litmus test to see just how far Italy have come in the past 12 months.
With a home World Cup edging closer by the day, France know that this Six Nations tournament is a massive stepping stone towards their ambition of winning their first ever world title. If they can become the first side to retain the Six Nations since England in 2017, their billing as World Cup favourites will only strengthen.
Tous les chemins mènent à Rome 🔜🇮🇹🇫🇷 #ITAFRA pic.twitter.com/ExDgR48owK— 𝗔𝗻𝘁𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗗𝗨𝗣𝗢𝗡𝗧 (@Dupont9A) February 3, 2023
MORE: How Grand-Slamming France dominated the 2022 Six Nations.
Italy vs. France kick-off time
Italy host France in the Six Nations Championship at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy. The game kicks off at 3 p.m. GMT on Sunday, February 5, 2023.
Here's the kick-off times for this game around the world:
|UK||Sun, Feb. 5||15:00 GMT|
|Australia||Mon, Feb. 6||02:00 AEDT|
|Canada||Sun, Feb. 5||10:00 ET|
|New Zealand||Mon, Feb. 6||04:00 NZDT|
|USA||Sun, Feb. 5||10:00 ET|
|India||Sun, Feb. 5||20:00 IST|
|Singapore||Sun, Feb. 5||23:00 SGT|
|Malaysia||Sun, Feb. 5||23:00 MYT|
MORE: How to play the Six Nations' Fantasy Rugby game.
Italy vs. France live stream, TV channel
Here is how to watch the match in some of the major territories:
|—||fuboTV, Peacock, CNBC|
|ITV One||ITV X|
|—||Sky Sport NOW|
|—||Premier Sports Asia|
|—||Premier Sports Asia|
|—||Premier Sports Asia|
|—||Premier Sports Asia|
USA: All games are streaming live on Peacock and will also be available through fuboTV. However, they will also be repeated on CNBC on delay, usually by a couple of hours.
Canada: All games are streaming live on DAZN.
UK: Matches will be shown on BBC and ITV, with S4C also broadcasting in Wales.
Australia: Six Nations coverage is provided by Stan Sport.
India: Premier Sports Asia is the main place to watch the Six Nations.
MORE: Six potential breakout stars of Six Nations 2023.
Italy vs. France confirmed lineups
Italy's backline has been through a raft of change in the past 12 months, and their starting full-back and wingers for this game reflect those alterations. World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year Ange Capuozzo scored five tries in his first seven caps for the Azzurri in 2022, as well as setting up Eduardo Padovani's winner against Wales with a spellbinding break through midfield.
He'll be flanked by Tommaso Menoncello and Pierre Bruno, with the latter also finishing off crucial scores in the autumn victories over Samoa and Australia.
WAL 21-22 ITA (R5): Super Saturday kicked off with a result that caused shockwaves. While Wales scored three tries, Italy needed only one, with Paolo Garbisi and Edoardo Padovani's kicking on song. A seven-year losing run in the Championship ended in the most memorable fashion. pic.twitter.com/fVxyuXUTs5— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) January 27, 2023
Young fly-half Paolo Garbisi is absent from the matchday 23 as he continues his return from injury, with Tommaso Allan occupying the 10 shirt.
One player who is back in the Six Nations setup is Sebastian Negri, who suffered a nasty neck injury in last year's fixture against England.
He'll line up on the blindside flank opposite captain Michele Lamaro. Free-scoring 22-year-old number eight Lorenzo Cannone rounds off a dynamic Azzurri back row.
Italy starting XV: Ange Capuozzo, Pierre Bruno, Ignacio Brex, Luca Morisi, Tommaso Menoncello, Tommaso Allan, Stephen Varney; Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera, Simone Ferrari, Niccolo Cannone, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro, Lorenzo Cannone.
The @Federugby side hosting the Grand Slam champions in Rome on Sunday 🇮🇹#AwakenAnticipation #ITAvFRA pic.twitter.com/o6yaCh6pyA— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 3, 2023
Italy replacements: Luca Bigi, Federico Zani, Pietro Ceccarelli, Edoardo Iachizzi, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani, Alessandro Fusco, Edoardo Padovani.
Gabin Villiere may have scored three tries against Italy in last year's Six Nations fixture but he's absent from France's matchday squad entirely this time around.
Taking his place on the wing is Lyon's Ethan Dumortier, making his debut for Les Bleus. The prolific Damian Penaud, who crossed for eight scores in 2022, keeps his place in the number 14 jersey, while ever-present Toulouse playmakers Romain Ntamack and captain Antoine Dupont occupy the half-back positions.
In the pack, France are missing the influential Cameron Woki, with Thibaud Flament and Paul Willemse occupying the second row. Anthony Jelonch, who scored the first of his two tries in last year's Six Nations against Italy, will wear number six as France look to start strongly up front. =
Both sides have selected six forwards and two backs on their benches, suggesting the battle of the breakdown and the set-piece will be crucial in this match.
France starting XV: Thomas Ramos, Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Yoram Moefana, Ethan Dumortier, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Uini Atonio, Thibaud Flament, Paul Willemse, Anthony Jelonch, Charles Ollivon, Gregory Alldritt.
France replacements: Gaetan Barlot, Reda Wardi, Sipili Falatea, Romain Taofifenua, Thomas Lavault, Sekou Macalou, Nolann Le Garrec, Matthieu Jalibert.— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) February 3, 2023
Italy vs. France odds
France are the odds-on favourites to taste victory in this match – and by quite some distance, too. Sky Bet and BetMGM are offering 1/25 and 1/33 odds for Les Bleus to win at Stadio Olimpico, with Sports Interaction and Ladbrokes offering less than $1.06.
Italy are a much longer shot according to the bookmakers, with Sky Bet offering the longest odds of 12/1 for the Azzurri to win. BetMGM, Sports Interaction and Ladbrokes all have Italy at slightly shorter odds of 10/1 or less, while a draw is seemingly out of the question, with 25/1 the shortest offer from Sky Bet.
|UK (Sky Bet)||USA (BetMGM)||
Canada (Sports Interaction)