Italy dominate France in shock Six Nations victory

Giovanbattista Venditti
Giovanbattista Venditti led celebrations as the famous and merited win was confirmed. Photo: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

Italian rugby fans are tonight celebrating their team's stunning 23-18 victory over France which has blown the Six Nations wide open.

Trailing 13-15 at the break, prop Martin Castrogiovanni's try midway through the second half propelled Italy, who are coached by Frenchman Jacques Brunel, ahead in front of an ecstatic Rome crowd at the Stadio Olimpico.

Italy's Sergio Parisse
Italy's Sergio Parisse got the ball rolling with a fourth-minute try. Credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

The effervescent home side, historically contenders for the competition's wooden spoon and 7/1 outsiders to win today, held back sustained pressure late in the game to record only their third ever win over French opposition.

The Italians had defeated France on home soil in the Six Nations two years ago, but today's victory was the most impressive to date.

Leonardo Ghiraldini
Italy's Leonardo Ghiraldini works the ball out after going to ground. Credit: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Castrogiovanni's try added to an early score from captain Sergio Parisse, while Luciano Orquera added 10 points with the boot and substitute Kris Burton delivered a drop-goal.

Supporters of the French rugby team
French supporters who had travelled to Rome were left to drown their sorrows. Credit: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

France were far from their best and, despite tries from Louis Picamoles and Benjamin Fall and eight points from a rejuvenated Frederick Michalak, were deservedly beaten.

Man-of-the-match Orquera said the Italian victory was a reward for his team's determination.

I'm really happy for the team and the fans, after two years we've beaten France again in Rome. We were mentally extremely strong right from the beginning, we wanted to win at any cost and we were always in the match. We never gave up.

– Luciano Orquera

The result put Italy level with England and Ireland on two points after the first round of games, though they sit third based on the margin of victories.

Romain Taofifenua
Romain Taofifenua was one of the many French players left to lick their wounds. Credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

France remain on par with Saturday's defeated nations, Scotland and the defending champions, Wales.

France's poor start has left favourites England to shorten up for the outright title (evens) and the Grand Slam (11/4), Ladbrokes said.