The miserable weather hasn’t stopped the French fans turning out in full force this afternoon.
Should be quite some atmosphere at the Stade de France, as ever.
Kick-off is now less than 15 minutes away!
It’s a cold, grisly and rainy afternoon at the Stade de France.
Let’s hope the poor conditions don’t have too much of an impact.
A very early look at the Six Nations table after yesterday’s opening matches.
You’d be shocked not to see France top the pile after today’s clash in Paris.
Ireland currently lead after their bonus-point thrashing of injury-ravaged Wales, while England did at least manage to get a losing bonus point at Murrayfield.
A long, long way back already for Eddie Jones’ men, however.
One small victory for Italy at least today – skipper Michele Lamaro has bested Dupont in the coin toss.
No new French positives in final tests
After Galthie’s result on Friday, France conducted an additional round of Covid testing on staff and players yesterday and were pleased to report no further positives.
Along with Dupont, half-back partner Romain Ntamack was among seven other Les Bleus stars to return from isolation recently.
Galthie preaches need for French consistency
Meanwhile, France coach Galthie has preached the need for stability and familiarity for this talented French team after last year’s heartbreak and back-to-back near-misses in a quest to end their 12-year wait for Six Nations glory.
“There is a trophy to win. We will approach it with more certainty, more confidence. There will be fewer surprises in our squads and how we play,” he said.
“Since the beginning, our ambition has been to win matches and competitions we are involved in.
“The first tournament we lost on points difference to England; the second by a small margin to Wales. The objective is always the same. The staff and players are growing, improving their preparation and their methods. Our objective is to build on the latest step.”
Crowley: Youthful Italy are prepared… but must stay calm
To give you an idea of the lack of top-level Test experience in this Italy team, flanker Sebastian Negri has the most number of caps in the starting lineup with 36. Edoardo Padovani is next with 30.
However, coach Crowley – who took over from Franco Smith last year – believes the energy and dynamism of a young squad can help them spring a few surprises this year.
“The work we have done in recent weeks in preparation for the Six Nations was intense and high quality,” he said.
“There is a lot of energy in the group and an awareness that they are taking to the pitch in one of the most important tournaments in the world of rugby and sport. The focus is on our performance: it will be important to stay calm in the key moments.”
An early look at the imposing Stade de France on a murky and overcast day in Paris…