Berliner Tageblatt - France 'still in hunt' for Six Nations title despite slow start

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France 'still in hunt' for Six Nations title despite slow start
France 'still in hunt' for Six Nations title despite slow start / Photo: © AFP/File

France 'still in hunt' for Six Nations title despite slow start

France captain Charles Ollivon said on Saturday his side still hopes to lift the Six Nations despite a sluggish start to their campaign.

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Les Bleus were humbled by favourites Ireland in the tournament opener and edged Scotland in the second round of games, as they appeared to be suffering a four-month hangover from October's Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat to South Africa.

On Sunday, France host Italy, who have just two wins in the Six Nations since 2015, having been criticised by fans, media and former players for their performances so far this year.

"We're still in the hunt. We won in Scotland, it's not nothing," Ollivon told reporters.

"Things are positive, we're holding our heads a bit higher.

"It's down to us to be serious tomorrow to give ourselves the right to dream in the final two matches," the flanker added.

France would need to win their remaining games of the Six Nations, against Italy, Wales and France, and hope table-topping Ireland slip-up, to win the title for this first time since 2022.

"We know all the points count, it can go down to the final round of games," Ollivon said.

"Obviously it's in the corner of our minds. To be there abouts in the final round of matches we don't have a choice, we have to have a big game this weekend," the 30-year-old added.

Ollivon has taken over from the injured Gregory Alldritt as skipper for the game in northern France. He previously led the side for two seasons after Fabien Galthie took over as head coach in late 2019.

"It happened naturally," Toulon's Ollivon said.

"There's a desire to do well, as usual, to lead the team, to go forward in a serious way with a lot of pleasure.

"Everyone has his place, his role, we move on together, hand in hand," he added.

Later Saturday, French winger Louis Bielle-Biarrey was ruled out of the game with a stiff neck and replaced in the starting lineup by Matthis Lebel.

"Louis Bielle-Biarrey has been ruled out. Matthis Lebel replaces him on the team sheet," the French federation said in a statement.

T.Bondarenko--BTB