France showcased a commanding performance from the opening whistle, securing their place in the Rugby World Cup 2023 quarter-finals with four consecutive wins in Pool A. The French team left the deafening OL Stadium crowd in awe as they triumphed over Italy with a resounding score of 60-7.
The first half of the match belonged entirely to France. Within just two minutes, they smoothly transitioned through the phases, creating an opportunity for winger Damian Penaud, who capitalized on the space provided. Penaud not only scored a try in the left corner but also displayed his versatility by setting up fellow winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey with a perfectly executed chip kick. In the 22nd minute, Penaud once again played the role of provider, assisting full-back Thomas Ramos. Just two minutes before halftime, Penaud added to his tally, securing the bonus point for France with a try on the right touchline.
With this second try, Penaud’s total for the year reached 14, and he climbed to second place on the list of all-time French try scorers with 35 to his name.
Italy managed to salvage some pride with a late try from substitute Manuel Zuliani. However, this couldn’t overshadow their two losses in the tournament, marking the end of their journey under the coaching of Kieran Crowley. In contrast, France continued to impress, scoring four more tries in the second half, including an outstanding pair from substitute Yoram Moefana, as they approached the knockout stages with confidence.
The Mastercard Player of the Match, Gregory Alldritt, commented, “The first step is done. We are going to enjoy the weekend because it was a tough game today. We will do our recovery and prepare for the quarter-final.”
France’s head coach, Fabien Galthié, praised his team’s performance, saying, “We took on the match in the best possible way, with the ball, the score, and a lot of defensive determination when they had possession.” He acknowledged that France relaxed a bit towards the end but emphasized the positive outcome, marking it as their best score against Italy.
Charles Ollivon, the captain of Les Bleus, emphasized the importance of their flawless record, saying, “Four games, four wins. This was an elimination match for us, we had no right to make mistakes. We wanted to play with intensity and we did, and we kept it up for 80 minutes. It’s very positive and sets us up for the next stage. We really want to be there.”
As France prepares for their quarter-final, scrum-half Maxime Lucu acknowledged the home fans’ support and expressed their excitement for the competition ahead. He added, “It’s good to have the competition back home. The stadium is packed – 58,000 people, it’s just great. We need to enjoy it a little because we’ve been under a lot of pressure over the past 10 days.”
Kieran Crowley, Italy’s coach, analyzed the result, stating, “We gave away a lot of penalties early on, and then we just didn’t get any momentum because our breakdown work wasn’t good enough.” He acknowledged the physicality of the French team and hoped for more respect for his players in the future.
Federico Ruzza, second-row for Italy, recognized their shortcomings and emphasized the need for improvement, saying, “At the beginning of the match, we weren’t physical enough and we conceded too many penalties so it was easy for them to get into our 22. We have to ask ourselves many questions. We have to do better.”