Whitewash looms for Italy
March 16, 2009
France's Sebastien Chabal is shackled by the Italy defence on his side's last visit to Rome in 2007 © Getty Images
Italy take on France at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome on Saturday staring at their fourth whitewash since joining the Six Nations in 2000. They lost all of their Championship matches in 2001, 2002 and 2005.
The nations meet for the 30th time since 1937 in a major Test. The first game was staged as part of a Paris exhibition tournament that also featured Belgium and Germany.
The sides did not meet again at full cap level until 1952, when the French engaged on a 15-year exchange of spring fixtures with the Italians. After 1967, the match was downgraded by the French to a B-fixture. Full official hostilities resumed at the beginning of the professional era, in 1995.
This will be the tenth time the countries have met in the International Championship since 2000.
France head the series by 28 wins to one. Italy's only win to date was in a friendly played in Grenoble a week after France had won the 1997 Five Nations Grand Slam.
France hold the records for the highest score, the biggest winning margin and most tries scored in a match. They won 60-13 in Toulon in 1967 scoring eleven tries.
Italy's highest score is their 40-32 win in Grenoble in 1997. They scored four tries that day, a feat they later achieved in their matches of 2000 and 2003.
Maurice Celhay set the record for most tries in a match, scoring four for France when the sides first met, at the original Parc des Princes in 1937. Alessandro Troncon crossed twice for Italy in Paris in 2000.
Christian Darrouy heads the list of try scorers for the overall series, crossing seven times between 1957 and 1967.
Italians hold the other major records for the matches: Diego Dominguez scored 71 points (compared with 54 for France by Dmitri Yachvili), and Sergio Lanfranchi, a versatile forward who was capped as a prop, lock, flanker and No 8, played 11 times in this fixture between 1953 and 1964.
Italy-France Six Nations results:
Firdose Moonda talks to Rob Louw about the difficulties of being a South African touring New Zealand at the height of Apartheid
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games