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Rugby | Six Nations

Sergio Parisse © Gallo Images

Parisse favours france for Six Nations title



Italy captain Sergio Parisse believes France are in pole position to win the 2013 Six Nations Championship.

The two sides meet in the first round of the tournament in Rome a week on Sunday with the Azzurri aiming for a repeat of their surprise 22-21 victory against France two years ago.

England laid down their title credentials with a stunning 38-21 win over world champions New Zealand at Twickenham in December.

But France are on a four-match winning streak and Parisse reckons the adaptability of Les Bleus makes them the team to beat.

"Definitely I believe France are the favourites," Parisse said at the launch of the Six Nations in London on Wednesday. "They make good decisions.

"England beat the best team in the world in the autumn so everyone expects them to dominate the Six Nations. They are very structured and try to dominate the opposition physically.

"Against New Zealand they showed some interesting things, but they don't have the capacity to adapt their game like the French.

"Everything is well organised with France, but their players have the liberty to adapt and they are the best at doing that.

"England are more structured and follow instructions. They find it harder to adapt than France. But they are still one of the best teams in the world."

Italy have only once finished outside the bottom two since joining what was the tournament in 2000 and in recent seasons their match with Scotland has often been a wooden-spoon decider.

That was the case in 2012 when their 13-6 win against the Scots represented their sole victory of the tournament.

However, this year they have three home matches, with Wales and Ireland, as well as France, set to visit Rome and No 8 Parisse has challenged Italy to raise their sights. "It's no longer enough for us to play well, to be improving and be involved in good matches," he said. "The gap between us and the other teams is closing, but for the credibility of the team we need results.

"We've been improving since we've been in the Six Nations and this year because we have three games we hope to do well.

"We don't have fear of any team in the Six Nations and we want to confirm our progression by winning matches."

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