France clinched the top spot in Pool A at the World Cup with an emphatic 60-7 victory over Italy. In a match where elimination loomed for the hosts if they had lost, France left no room for doubt as they delivered a commanding performance in Lyon, scoring eight tries to secure a crucial bonus-point win.
With this win, France advances to the quarter-finals unbeaten and finishes ahead of New Zealand in the group stage rankings. Their next challenge awaits in the form of the runners-up from Pool B, which could be South Africa, Ireland, or Scotland, with the quarter-final scheduled for October 15.
France captain Charles Ollivon reflected on their successful campaign, stating, “Four games, four wins. This was an elimination match for us, we had no right to make mistakes. We wanted to play with intensity and we did, and we kept it up for 80 minutes. It’s very positive and sets us up for the next stage. We really want to be there.”
From the outset, France asserted their dominance, with Damian Penaud scoring the opening try within two minutes. Full-back Thomas Ramos was impeccable with his kicking, converting the try and adding a penalty from halfway.
Louis Bielle-Biarrey showcased his skills on the left wing by scoring a try, followed by Ramos finishing a superb cross-field move. Penaud secured the bonus point before halftime, grabbing his second try after an outstanding kick by Matthieu Jalibert.
Jalibert continued the scoring after the break, showcasing his playmaking abilities with a dazzling try. Hooker Peato Mauvaka added another try from a line-out, and replacement back Yoram Moefana contributed to the onslaught with two tries of his own.
Italy managed to avoid a shutout with Manuel Zuliani’s try, but it was a solitary consolation in a challenging encounter.
France played without injured captain Antoine Dupont, but Maxime Lucu filled in admirably at scrum-half. Dupont’s potential return for the quarter-final will be determined following a medical assessment.
Despite the absence of Dupont, France’s performance demonstrated their strength and cohesion, regardless of the lineup. Ollivon highlighted the team’s unity and understanding, which has developed over four years and contributes to their success.
Italy, on the other hand, endured a disappointing end to the tournament, finishing third in their World Cup pool for the sixth consecutive time. This loss to France, coupled with their previous heavy defeat to New Zealand, marked a tough campaign for Italy.
Coach Kieran Crowley acknowledged the challenges they faced, noting early penalties and breakdown struggles. France’s physicality and power proved too much for Italy to contend with, ending their World Cup journey on a somber note.