france rugby team
France's Uini Atonio takes a team selfie after the presentation during the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup 2015 in GreenwichReuters

France would look to consolidate their dominant record over Italy as the two sides go head-to-head in their Rugby World Cup pool D opener at Twickenham, London.

Les Blues, currently in the seventh spot in the World Rugby Rankings, have as many as 33 wins over Italy, ranked 14, from as many as 36 matches in all competitions over the years. The Azzurris have just three wins.

And with the presence of teams like Romania, Canada as well as defending Six Nations champion Ireland in the pool, France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has urged his men to enjoy the game against Italy and conveniently secure a win on Saturday.

"It's only a rugby match even if it's our first of a World Cup. We mustn't put too much in their heads, they mustn't be too pressured," Saint-Arde told reporters at Twickenham prior to the match.

"I have been waiting for this [World Cup] for four years and we must get there with a smile on our faces," he said.

France have had three months' preparation for the World Cup following a not-so-memorable campaign in the recent Six Nations championships. However, Saint-Arde believes that the team is ready now.

"We will be much better than in the Six Nations. We have been together since July 6. We've shown it already in the warm-up games," the France coach explained.

"The team is ready, much, much fitter and we are looking forward to the game against Italy."

For Italy, star player and inspirational skipper Sergio Parisse will be unavailable and that will be a major concern for Italy coach Jacques Brunel.

Leonardo Ghiraldini will lead the side in Parisse's absence while Samuela Vunisa will start at number eight - the position held by the 31-year-old Argentina-born Parisse.

"We have to respond as a squad and the other players have to fulfil their roles, not just the experienced players, but everyone," Brunel explained.

"Vunisa was the strongest replacement and has played this role before. The main responsibility for the number eight comes in the scrum and France's scrum is one of the strongest around."

Meanwhile, France will also be without injured centre Wesley Fofana. The 27-year-old is yet to recover from a thigh injury, and Alexandre Dumoulin will replace him in that position.


France: Scott Spedding, Yoann Huget, Mathieu Bastareaud, Alexandre Dumoulin, Noa Nakaitaci, Frederic Michalak, Sebastien Tillous-Borde; Louis Picamoles, Damien Chouly, Thierry Dusautoir (captain), Yoann Maestri, Pascal Pape, Rabah Slimani, Guilhem Guirado, Eddy Ben Arous

Replacements: Benjamin Kayser, Vincent Debaty, Nicolas Mas, Bernard Le Roux, Alexandre Flanquart, Morgan Parra, Remi Tales, Gael Fickou

Italy: Luke McLean, Leonardo Sarto, Michele Campagnaro, Andrea Masi, Giovanbattista Venditti, Tommaso Allan, Edoardo Gori; Samuela Vunisa, Francesco Minto, Alessandro Zanni, Josh Furno, Quintin Geldenhays, Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini (captain), Matias Aguero

Replacements: Andrea Manici, Michele Rizzo, Lorenzo Cittadini, Valerio Bernabo, Simone Favaro, Guglielmo Palazzani, Carlo Canna, Enrico Bacchin

France vs Italy gets under way at 8 pm BST (12.30 am IST, 3 pm ET) at Twickenham, London.

Where to Watch Live

India - Sony Six will provide the live coverage of the match in India (and the subcontinent), with live streaming on

UK -  ITV4 will broadcast the match live, with an online streaming option on ITV Player.

USA - Audience in the USA can watch the rugby World Cup opening match live on Universal Sports, while the game can also be live streamed on Universal Sports Online.

New Zealand - Sky Sport will show the match live in New Zealand, with a live streaming option on Sky Go NZ.


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