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Six Nations: Nick Mallett hails 'huge' Italy win

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Mallett emotional after first win over France

Italy coach Nick Mallett described his side's dramatic victory over France as a "huge, huge achievement".

Italy had to withstand three scrums in front of their posts to secure a first Six Nations win over France, and their eighth in 11 years in the tournament.

"I am really proud of my players and what they have done for Italian rugby supporters, who have been fantastic," added an emotional Mallett.

Captain Sergio Parisse described it as a "historic day for Italian rugby".

The Italy number eight added: "I am really proud, really happy, and for all those people who come every time and have stayed close to the team."

Italy fought back from an 18-6 deficit with just over a quarter of the match to go to stun the reigning Grand Slam champions, handing them a defeat former France star Serge Betsen called a "nightmare" for France coach Marc Lievremont.

Mallett's side have been whipping boys since entering the tournament in 2000 but the proud former South Africa coach told the BBC: "We're working and improving all the time.

"I've stuck with the same group over the last three years.

"I've got a great captain in Sergio Parisse - he's been a lone figure over the last four years, but he's now playing with a team where he just has to do his part - today we had 15, 22 players all playing their parts.

"Alessandro Zanni was outstanding, Andrea Masi, the full-back, had an excellent game - they were a really good rugby team today.

"We played against a good French team, who have reached two World Cup finals and have always thrashed Italy really, so it's a huge achievement."

Quitting doesn't even enter my vocabulary even if I still have doubts

France coach Marc Lievremont

Captain Parisse described the win as a "dream" and was full of praise for Bergamasco, who shrugged off two bad misses to land six kicks out of eight for a haul of 17 points, and Mallett.

"He's the only coach who believed in us, I want to dedicate this victory to him," he said.

"And Mirco asked to kick again and he got the important penalty."

The result effectively ends France's title hopes and increases the pressure on Lievremont, who admitted his players underperformed in Rome.

"[Italy] deserve it," he said. "I knew it would happen one day but I hoped it would be another time.

"Even at 18-6 I didn't feel safe, I would have preferred to win despite everything, I'd have preferred a sad win rather than a sad defeat.

"I've always been built on the desire to fight, I haven't spoken with the players, there's very few who played as I expected them to."

Lievremont, who has used a total of 81 players since taking charge of the national team, insisted he had no plans to resign.

"It's tough to take, quitting doesn't even enter my vocabulary even if I still have doubts," he added.

"Tomorrow is another day, we'll have to make choices, we'll have to fight but I'm not on the pitch so that principally is for the players."

Mirco Bergamasco

Extended highlights - Italy 22-21 France



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see also
Italy 22-21 France
12 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Italy 16-24 Wales
26 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
England 17-9 France
26 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations on the BBC
05 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union


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