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Shot clock drama as Italy fumble historic win over France

By PA
Paolo Garbisi of Italy looks dejected as he reacts after missing a conversion attempt for a penalty kick, which was last kick of the match, and as a result ended the match as a draw, during the Guinness Six Nations 2024 match between France and Italy at Stade Pierre Mauroy on February 25, 2024 in Lille, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Italy were within the width of a post of the biggest upset in Six Nations history as they drew 13-13 against 14-man France in Lille.

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Paolo Garbisi had a last-gasp penalty attempt from 38 metres to register Italy’s first-ever Championship win in France.

But the ball toppled off its tee and, with just a few seconds left on the shot clock after it had been replaced, Garbisi rushed his kick and struck the right-hand post.

France – who had won 45 of their previous 48 Test matches against Italy, including the past 14 in a row – had lost Jonathan Danty to a red card on the stroke of half-time for a high shot on opposite centre Ignacio Brex.

Les Bleus thrashed Italy 60-7 at last year’s World Cup but a repeat of that one-sided encounter did not materialise as the Azzurri underlined their improvement under new head coach Gonzalo Quesada.

Fixture
Six Nations
France
13 - 13
Full-time
Italy
All Stats and Data

Italy remain bottom of the Guinness Six Nations, level on points with Wales, while France stay in fourth place, with their title dream over.

France started at breakneck pace and were rewarded with a seventh-minute try.

Italy were unable to stop a series of pick-and-go’s through the middle of their defence and skipper Charles Ollivon got the ball down under a pile of Azzurri bodies.

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Thomas Ramos dispatched a simple conversion and swiftly added a penalty as France suggested the game could be effectively over by half-time.

Italy spent most of the first half hanging on by their fingernails, and were not helped by a risky strategy of trying to escape their 22 with ball in hand.

22m Entries

Avg. Points Scored
0.7
10
Entries
Avg. Points Scored
2.6
5
Entries

Fly-half Matthieu Jalibert was stopped near to the line and 19-year-old lock Posolo Tuilagi almost celebrated his first Test start with a try.

But Tuilagi was held up over the line and the contest took a dramatic turn in the final play of the first half as Italy launched a rare attack.

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There was clear head-on-head contact between Danty and Brex, and English referee Christophe Ridley reduced France to 14 men with a yellow card.

Martin Page-Relo provided further punishment to France from long range, and Ridley confirmed after the interval that the bunker review system had upgraded Danty’s yellow to red.

Territory

8%
39%
27%
27%
Team Logo
Team Logo
54%
Territory
47%

France made light of their numerical disadvantage as their forwards rallied for Ramos to land his second penalty.

Tommaso Menoncello went close to an Azzurri try, kicking ahead before running out of ground, but Garbisi cut the gap to seven points again with a straightforward penalty.

Italy drew level 10 minutes from time after building through the phases for Leonardo Marin to find Ange Capuozzo with a superb offload.

Garbisi converted but then failed to top it as Italy, with only two Six Nations wins over France since joining the Championship in 2000, fell agonisingly short of a second success in 45 matches.

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Poorfour 10 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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