Six Nations

Brunel delighted with Italy spirit

Italy coach Jacques Brunel hailed the spirit shown by his side as they fell just short in a 23-21 Six Nations opener against France on Saturday.

The visitors gave a superb account of themselves in Paris and were only beaten by the late kicking exploits of France fly-half Jules Plisson.

Sergio Parisse's last-gasp drop goal went wide as the Italians failed to claim a memorable win, but Brunel highlighted the positives.

"We wanted to be a tough opponent and we succeeded," said Brunel. "We showed the spirit we wanted, although for the first half we had little possession, allowing France too many kicks.

"But still we built our game, we had no fear of playing and, overall, [it was] a good match."

Brunel had named four debutants in his starting XV, including two players - David Odiete and Mattia Bellini - who do not even play top-level club rugby.

"Winning today was our dream," he added. "We were hoping to make a match like this today but we could not know how they would react against the rookies.

"They [the debutants] took the initiative, they were not afraid, and for us this is something extremely positive.

"We have shown to France and those who had predicted a big gap between us and France that a rugby match is unpredictable."

Captain Parisse's audacious drop-goal attempt after the clock had ticked beyond 80 missed by some distance.

"I took the responsibility because I was in good position," he said. "Obviously I'm disappointed because I did not hit the target and we lost the game.

"It was a decision taken a bit hastily maybe, but I was on the axis and I decided to kick. As usual I took responsibility."