Six Nations: Fabien Galthie left with ‘bitter taste’ after France edge out Italy

David Skippers
Fabien Galthie France head coach v Italy Six Nations 2023 - PA.jpg

France head coach Fabien Galthie said despite his team’s bonus-point triumph over Italy in their Six Nations opener in Rome on Sunday, he had been left with a “bitter taste”.

Les Bleus made a bright start and raced into a 19-6 lead midway through the first half, before the Azzurri launched a brave fightback and were leading 24-22 inside the game’s final quarter before a 67th-minute try from Matthieu Jalibert sealed the visitors’ win.

After the game, Galthie said he was happy that his team managed to start their campaign with a win and admitted that there is room for improvement ahead of their next match against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

“We are satisfied to have won it, to have taken the offensive bonus – two of the objectives we had set ourselves – but we must admit that it was hard,” he told L’Equipe.

“The performance is mixed, to say the least, it leaves us with a bitter taste. We didn’t achieve all our goals in this game; that’s clear.

“But we have the right, collectively, not to always be on top, always be in line with our expectations that have evolved over the past two years.

Demands improvement

“We must say that winning an international match, in the tournament, away, is already important. Now we are aware that we must do much better.”

France outscored Italy by four tries to two, with Thibault Flament, Thomas Ramos and debutant Ethan Dumortier crossing for the visitors’ other tries, and Ramos also succeeded with three conversions and a penalty. Italy’s five-pointers came courtesy of a penalty try and a well-taken score from Ange Capuozzo, while Tommaso Allan slotted four penalties.

Although they finished on the losing side, Italy head coach Kieran Crowley was happy with his team’s display.

“I am really satisfied with the character and conviction with which we approached the match,” he told a press conference after the Test.

“In the first half, there were some problems of execution, mistakes that must be avoided, and that cost us a lot.

“For the rest, our scrum was fantastic, despite the considerable difference in weight in the front line, in defence, we did very well, and the way we came back in the second half is for me another reason for great satisfaction, how we were able to modify our game adapting to the mood of the match showed great maturity.

“Unfortunately, the defeat is the result of those (mistakes) seen in the first quarter, at these levels, concessions cannot be made, and against England (next Sunday at Twickenham), we will absolutely have to avoid them.”

READ MORE: Six Nations: France hang on for opening round victory over Italy in Rome