World Rugby

Six Nations France Vs. Italy Recap: Italy Wows In Draw, Post Denies Win

Six Nations France Vs. Italy Recap: Italy Wows In Draw, Post Denies Win

Paolo Garbisi's penalty in extra time smashed off of the upright, denying Italy a win on French soil, but the Azzurri should be more than happy with a draw.

Feb 25, 2024 by Briar Napier
Six Nations France Vs. Italy Recap: Italy Wows In Draw, Post Denies Win

You probably wouldn’t have found an Italy player or fan who wouldn’t have taken a draw with France prior to the opening kickoff of their match Sunday.

But when so much more was up for grabs so late for the Azzurri, a draw hurts.

In a heart-stopping finish to Round 3’s closer at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille, Italy’s extra-time penalty attempt that would’ve given it a monumental win on French soil was devastatingly denied by the right upright. 

And while a 15-match losing streak to France did end — and Italy’s performance should be commended — the Azzurri knew a historic night was up for the taking and just the thinnest of margins away.

Meanwhile, France’s underperformance in this year’s Six Nations reached a new low, with Les Bleus often looking sloppy and undisciplined. Their absences and missing pieces have hurt and messed with their team chemistry, but if you’re France, your past three rounds of play at the Six Nations have been far below what you’ve come to expect.

If you’re Italy, meanwhile, you can walk out of Lille knowing you took one of rugby’s elite nations to the brink.

Here’s a look at what was one of the best endings to a match of the Six Nations thus far, with Italy breaking a winless streak against France but also being denied a victory by the thinnest of margins:

Tale Of The Tape


Oh, how the end of a long losing streak can also feel so cruel. 

As the Italians heroically defended and gave themselves life going into the dressing room by only being down 10-3, they were given a stroke of fortune once Jonathan Danty’s high tackle late in the first half was upgraded from yellow to red, leaving Les Bleus with 14 men for the last 40 minutes. 

Immediately, the momentum shifted; Italy ruled possession in the second half and frequently looked threatening, getting a boost of confidence once Paolo Garbisi booted through a penalty with just under 20 minutes left to make it 13-6. 

Spurred on with the belief that its first win against France in France since 1997 was in sight, the dream edged even closer to reality for the Azzurri in the 69th minute when a brilliant sequence of play ended in an Ange Capuozzo try in the corner, with Garbisi’s ensuing kick levelling the scores at 13 all as a result. 

The last 10 minutes were then as pulsating as you’ll see in any rugby match, with Italy in particular going from jubilation to devastation in a flash. 

With France holding possession and appearing to have the game’s final chance, a crucial penalty from Les Bleus then gave Garbisi a chance for a go-ahead, historic kick well within his range in the game’s dying embers. 

As Garbisi was preparing for his kick the shot clock ticked down; however, the ball fell off of the tee, and Garbisi had to scramble to set the ball back up and rush his kick to get it off in time. 

Forced to move quickly, Garbisi’s boot drifted right and careened off of the upright, denying Italy a mammoth win in Lille and making a brilliant result for the Italians, all things considered, feel more like a crushing defeat.


Yes, France is missing a lot of heavy hitters. Yes, France has had some tough injury luck, including young star winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey being forced out of the starting XV late due to a neck injury.

But after two largely uninspiring performances against Ireland and Scotland in the first two rounds of the Six Nations, Les Bleus’ match against Italy this weekend was thought by many to be one where they could let loose and get back on track toward the top of the table.

Instead, France looked like a shell of the squad many tipped to be Rugby World Cup favorites just a few months ago, and a draw on home soil against Italy, considering the amount of talent France still had at its disposal Sunday, simply isn't good enough. 

A failure to be clinical in the first half and finish off promising chances allowed Italy to stick around, and when Danty’s very poor high tackle made things turn from bad to worse, France began to implode for second-half stretches. 

Numerous lost possessions, several critical penalties were given away — including the one late that almost lost Les Bleus the match — and an overall lack of concentration and discipline in the match’s latter stages felt jarring to see from a French side on home soil, especially considering the blistering performances it had in front of those same supporters at the Rugby World Cup.

Like the Scotland match, when France was fortunate to escape with a win, it was lucky to escape with a draw against, when considering the squad quality top to bottom, the weakest opponent in the Six Nations field, though Italy deserves to be credited for a well-played second half. 

Antoine Dupont (gone from the Six Nations squad as he prepares for rugby sevens at this summer’s Paris Olympics) can’t get back into the fold soon enough. 

Key Moment

Unquestionably, the turning point in the match was Danty’s red. 

Italy instantly started looking more lively and more threatening from that point forward, as France’s grip on the game loosened with one less player on the pitch.

The error that sent the La Rochelle center to the bench was a microcosm of many of France’s problems both against Italy and throughout the Six Nations as a whole. 

Toward the end of the first half, when he attempted to make a tackle on Italy’s Juan Ignacio Brex, Danty with more than enough space to line up and establish a legal hit, went too high and made head-on-head contact with Brex for an easy card to give out for referee Christophe Ridley, which later was upgraded to red before the second half kickoff. 

Like FloRugby pointed out in its preview of the match, one of the key factors to the game was going to be France against itself, as more often than not in this year’s Six Nations, Les Bleus haven’t seemed capable of getting out of its own way. 

And, as fate would have it, an amateurish mistake from Danty leaving him with no one to blame but himself put France a man down for  the second half and gave Italy a massive window of opportunity, which it capitalized on to get the draw and be mere centimeters from a colossal victory. 

France’s chances of getting back in this year’s title race already were slim, but after Sunday, they're nonexistent at this point. It’s hard to find any external blame for its sudden slump, either.

Man Of The Match

Tommaso Menoncello, Italy

We’re going to have to agree with the official Six Nations pick on this one. 

The star man in a stellar performance for the Azzurri, though he didn’t appear on the scoresheet like other excellent teammates Capuozzo, Garbisi and Martin Page-Relo. But he didn’t need to be on it. 

At right wing, he played a crucial role in Italy’s try that tied the match at 13 late and nearly got a try himself early in the second half after he kicked forward a ball but failed to run to it and touch it down, perhaps indicating to France that it was going to be in for a war the rest of the way with Danty off the pitch. 

One of Italy’s strongest Six Nations performances in recent memory had a brutal ending, but Menoncello and the other Italian standouts on the pitch in Lille can hold their heads up high.

Round 4 Outlook


Faces Wales in Cardiff. 

Les Blues have won five in a row over Wales, but considering the way that Les Bleus are playing right now, it’s extremely hard to trust them against any Six Nations opponent in any location. 

The Welsh also will be looking to bounce back at home after Scotland defeated them at the Millenium Stadium in Round 1. 

Maybe we never truly appreciated how good Antoine Dupont is, considering that France has looked like a completely different team without him.


Faces Scotland in Rome. 

Every match for Italy at the Six Nations is an uphill climb in some form, but no one can blame the Azzurri for going into their next match in the competition on a high note. 

Scotland is coming off of its own strong performance, a fourth consecutive victory that came over rival England this weekend, but a first win at the Stadio Olimpico over the Scots in 12 years definitely is not out of the question, if the Italians stay focused and don’t get caught up in the hangover from their fantastic draw. 

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