France and Italy will collide in Pool A of the World Cup on Friday night with a place in the quarter-finals on the line.
If their Guinness Six Nations meetings are anything to go by, we have a mouth-watering fixture on our hands.
More often than not, Les Bleus have got the better of the Azzurri, but there have been countless closely-fought encounters and inspiring Italy triumphs over the years.
With that in mind, let’s look back at five classic matches between the sides in the Guinness Six Nations.
2000 – France 42-31 Italy, Stade de France, Paris
Five Nations became six in 2000 as Italy took part in Rugby’s Greatest Championship for the first time. After winning their opening match against Scotland and falling to defeat against Wales, Ireland and England, the Azzurri were hoping to end their debut campaign on a high at the Stade de France.
They may not have recorded their second win of the Championship, but Italy impressed in a nine-try thriller.
Walter Cristofoletto’s ill-discipline cost them dearly that day, as they let a 17-10 lead slip, eventually falling to a 42-31 defeat in Paris. However, there was a happy send-off for retiring Italy fly-half Diego Dominguez, who converted two Italian consolation tries on what was set to be his final Test, before he reversed his retirement decision.
2011 – Italy 22–21 France, Stadio Flaminio, Rome
Eleven years later, Italy recorded their first Six Nations win over France at Stadio Flaminio in Rome.
After pushing Ireland and Wales to the limit in earlier rounds, the Azzurri were looking to finally beat France in Rugby’s Greatest Championship.
And they did it in sensational circumstances, coming from 18-6 down to win 22-21.
Mirco Bergamasco’s kick gave Italy the advantage early on, but Vincent Clerc crossed the whitewash, and Morgan Parra converted a penalty to give France an 8-3 lead.
Bergamasco’s second penalty reduced the deficit to two, but Parra added a second of his own before scoring a try to put Les Bleus 12 points ahead.
Andrea Masi’s finish and Bergamasco’s boot put Italy ahead, with Parra’s third penalty kick proving little more than a consolation.
2013 – Italy 23-18 France, Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Italy recorded their second home win over France in a row as they beat Les Bleus 23-18 at Stadio Olimpico.
Iconic Italy No.8 Sergio Parisse crossed the whitewash after a sublime counter-attack from the hosts, but his opposite number Louis Picamoles struck back for France.
Luciano Orquera kicked the hosts into the lead, but Benjamin Fall scored a try and Frédéric Michalak was on target as France went 18-13 ahead with 30 minutes left of the second half.
However, just as Italian hopes were fading, Martin Castrogiovanni went over to hand his side the advantage, and Kris Burton made sure of things with a drop goal that secured a historic win.
2016 – France 23–21 Italy, Stade de France, Paris
Italy have not been on the winning side against France since 2013, but they came close again three years later.
Les Bleus were far from convincing under new coach Guy Novès, needing a late penalty from Jules Plisson to secure the win.
Virimi Vakatawa and Damien Chouly both scored for France in the first half, but Carlo Canna’s drop goal and Sergio Parisse’s score kept Italy in the match at the break.
After half-time, Canna scored a try of his own as Parisse turned provider after cutting through France’s defence, but the hosts were back on top when Hugo Bonneval crossed the whitewash.
Plisson then kept his nerve to wrap up the victory from the kicking tee with a long-range penalty, with Parisse off-target with a drop goal attempt in the final minute to win it.
2023 – Italy 24-29 France, Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Defending Guinness Six Nations champions France came from behind to beat an impressive Italy side earlier this year.
Thibaud Flament, Thomas Ramos and Ethan Dumortier all went over for France in the first half.
However, Ange Capuozzo gave his side hope before a penalty try and four Tommaso Allan penalties put the Azzurri 24-22 ahead.
They could not hang on though and Matthieu Jalibert sniped over in the closing stages to hand his side a 29-24 win.