Title contender France has plenty of reasons to be concerned about Italy in their crunch Rugby World Cup match on Friday in Lyon.
Both are chasing a quarterfinal spot. France is unbeaten and is looking to top Pool A. Italy has lots of motivation.
Italy was caned by New Zealand 96-17 last week in Lyon but the Azzurri are usually thrashed by the All Blacks. Italy has no fear factor at all, though, when it comes to neighbor France.
Their derby is often feisty, and the All Blacks did France no favor by riling up Italy to save some face for the humiliation they suffered a week ago.
“We are looking forward to a chance this week to at least get a performance that has a lot more respectability,” Italy coach Kieran Crowley says.
This could be Crowley’s last game in charge of Italy. He was hired from Treviso in May 2021 after the disastrous 16-month reign of Franco Smith. Crowley transformed the team’s fortunes by improving their fitness, discipline and attack and selecting promising stars.
Notable wins against Wales and Australia and the second best winning percentage for an Italy coach in this century encouraged Crowley to want to continue in the role but he was surprisingly rejected by the Italian federation, who hired Gonzalo Quesada in June to replace him.
Italy has never made the quarterfinals in the tournament’s history. Ireland’s failure to pass the qua
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