France’s 50-10 victory over Italy in the 2021 Guinness Six Nations curtain-raiser has left Les Bleus captain Charles Ollivon hungry for even more success in this year’s Championship.
The 2010 Grand Slam winners started their campaign with a resounding success over the Azzurri in Rome; running in seven tries to claim a bonus-point victory and lay down a marker to the rest of the competition.
Dylan Cretin, Gael Fickou and Arthur Vincent all crossed in the first half for Fabien Galthie’s side, before Brice Dulin, Antoine Dupont and Teddy Thomas (twice) all went over after the break in a dominant French performance.
And Ollivon was left delighted with the calibre of performance his side put in, as they produced some scintillating rugby to sweep aside their opponents.
Classy Dupont guides France to bonus-point win in Italy
“I will retain above all the word efficiency. It was a tough and tough match up front, as we suspected. We weren’t surprised on that,” Ollivon said in the post-match press conference.
“The Italians were brave, they went through a lot of phases in the first half. We were able to stay in the game and get out of complicated situations.
“We know that at this level it is not possible to relax for five or ten minutes. We prepared very well in Nice and we wanted to start the Championship. We really studied all the details in depth, we were able to put them into practice.”
France looked up for the challenge from the very first whistle at Stadio Olimpico, with Cretin handing them an advantage within the opening five minutes by bundling over from close range.
Dupont’s exquisite kick then teed up Fickou to extend the lead, with the scrum-half oozing with class every time he got his hands on the ball in Rome.
The diminutive Dupont was at the heart of the action once again soon after, as his ingenious over-the-head pass set up Vincent to go over for France’s third try, making the score 24-3 at the break.
Dulin then got himself in on the act soon after the interval, with the full-back earning the bonus point after collecting Gabin Villiere’s kick over the Italian defence.
Dupont eventually got himself on the scoresheet minutes later, before Thomas crossed twice to see Les Bleus reach the 50-point mark late on.
It was the perfect way to get the 2021 Guinness Six Nations underway for Ollivon and his comrades, with the French skipper keen to sing the praises of Dupont, who provided more than a sprinkling of stardust throughout the 80 minutes in Rome with his try and four assists.
And with a crucial clash with Ireland lined up in Round 2, the flanker is eager to keep the momentum going as they head to Dublin next weekend.
“As usual, he [Antoine Dupont] put in a great performance. We need him to conduct the game, in the conclusions of actions,” added Ollivon. “He makes his qualities speak, it no longer surprises anyone. It’s very good for him and especially very good for the team.
“We want even more. We know that a big game awaits us next weekend. We need to put in a big performance.
“You are right, it will be different in Ireland. It’s up to us to be well focused, to work well, to go further in all sectors. This match is going to be crucial.”