Saint-Andre salutes Italy
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre was full of praise for Italy after seeing his team stumble to another upset defeat to their Six Nations rivals.
Fly-half Luciano Orquera kicked 10 points and Kris Burton dropped a match-winning goal as Italy belied their status as Six Nations also-rans to stun tournament co-favourites France 23-18 in Rome on Sunday.
France came into their opener buoyed by three morale-boosting wins over Australia, Argentina and Samoa in November, but under pressure to make a solid start - having finished a mediocre fourth in last year's edition.
Adding to Saint-Andre's task was knowing that on their last outing in Italy, in March 2011, they suffered a 22-21 defeat.
With Italy showing progress in their own November Test campaign, notably against New Zealand and Australia, France came to the capital ready for a physical encounter.
Instead, the hosts eschewed the errors for which they have become known and added their own brand of expansive, flowing rugby to frustrate France throughout a thrilling encounter.
"We need to congratulate Italy. They played very well, with a lot of passion, and kept the ball well," said Saint-Andre.
"We had control of the game when we were five points in front, but we lost the ball too many times and were not precise. When you are not precise in the Six Nations, you are punished.
"The first half an hour was bad and the last half an hour was a catastrophe. It hurts but it's only one game.
"The players are very, very disappointed. We prepared well for the game and we respect the Italian team. They improve each year, and in November they were unlucky to lose to Australia.
"Wales against Ireland was a fantastic game yesterday. Wales are very quick and physical, and we need to prepare very well and we need to win. It is not acceptable to lose at home."