This is the perfect opportunity for France to build some momentum this tournament, with a victory over Italy all but a certainty. That said, anything other than a comprehensive victory could be cause for concern and may dent confidence heading into their final four tricky matches.
Failure to beat Scotland in their final game of last year’s Six Nations was an agonising way to miss out on the title, though since then they’ve proven themselves to be one of the driving forces in Tier One rugby, and a strong 2022 would see them very much up near the top of the market for next year’s home World Cup.
A losing tour of Australia shouldn’t be understated considering they fielded almost a full second-string side, while they followed that up with three wins from three in the Autumn internationals against Argentina, Georgia and (most impressively) New Zealand.
Italy +35 Handicap
Italy have long been the Six Nations whipping boys, as their main objective this year is to somehow end their 27-game losing streak in this competition, though it seems recently that the gulf in class may be getting even bigger.
Indeed, the narrowest margin of defeat in their last seven Six Nations outings has been by 23 points, with four of their five last year coming by a minimum of 38 points.
Their Autumn Internationals went exactly as expected too, with comprehensive defeats to both New Zealand and Argentina, though they at least finished on a high with a victory over Uruguay, albeit being just a one score game.
The handicap line currently sits around the 35-point mark, and although this is the tournament favourites against the Wooden Spoon side, there’s no guarantee that Les Bleus will hit the ground running and cover that line.
They did so last year, with a 50-10 victory, though that was the only time in 15 meetings with Italy that they’d managed to cover that 35-point handicap.
With neither side having played for a couple of months, we can’t assume either will be firing on all cylinders and that line looks slightly too high on this occasion. While the victory will almost certainly be routine, we’ll back the visitors to keep it under that lengthy margin.
ITALY +35 HANDICAP