France v Italy: hosts set for comfortable opening Six Nations win

France may have made the Rugby World Cup final back in the autumn but it’s difficult to remember a team who achieved so much receiving so little credit for doing so.

They were widely regarded as the worst team ever to make it to the final and were expected to get soundly beaten by hosts New Zealand.

However, they produced a fighting performance in the Auckland final and were only narrowly beaten 8-7 – and it’s that determination and spirit that should see them comfortably sweep aside serial Wooden Spoon ‘winners’ Italy in their opening game of the Six Nations.

France have plenty still to prove having lost to the Italians – only their second ever defeat against the Azzurri – in the Six Nations last season but are expected to comfortably win in Paris at 1/25.

Italy have won just eight of their 60 Six Nations games since joining the competition back in 2000 and are a big 10/1 to get another victory.

With France coach Philippe Saint-André naming a strong-looking side that includes scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili alongside Montpellier’s in-form fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc, there is plenty of creativity to unlock the Italians and a big score could be on the cards.

France have averaged nearly 30 points in all of their previous meetings with Italy and have won by an average of almost 20.

Backing France to win with an handicap of 19 points looks well worth consideration at 10/11.

Meanwhile, French winger Vincent Clerc was the joint top try scorer in the Rugby World Cup and he is a temping 11/10 to score a try at any time having run over 31 in his 55 matches for the French so far.