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France players take full blame for shock loss

Published: 8:14AM Tuesday February 05, 2013 Source: Reuters

France had no-one but themselves to blame for yesterday's shock defeat to Italy in their Six Nations opener, players and manager Philippe Saint-Andre said.

"We dropped too many balls," flanker and former captain Thierry Dusautoir was quoted as saying in French media today. "Italy were just better."

"We lacked coherence," summed up Dimitri Szarzewski, while fellow hooker Benjamin Kayser concluded: "We are now in a bad position but that's our fault."

France, the 2011 World Cup runners-up, were upset 23-18 in Rome, two years after slumping to their first Six Nations defeat against Italy, and their clumsiness cost them dear.

Fulgence Ouedraogo and Wesley Fofana had an opportunity on the stroke of halftime, when France were 15-13 up, but Fofana fluffed a routine pass.

"In the second half, we lost two tricky balls in a line-out," forwards coach Yannick Bru told French media.

"We beat their defence many times but instead of scoring we conceded tries on counter-attacks. We were less efficient, much less rigorous."

Saint-Andre said his side had needed more precision, adding: "We should have put more pressure (on them), as we did in the first half."

However, the manager said the defeat to an improving Italy side needed to be put into perspective.

"We have not lost the tournament," Saint-Andre said. "Of course we've lost the grand slam but we know that this competition is rough, atypical and difficult."

Pape, Clerc out of Wales clash

Meanwhile, France captain Pascal Pape and wing Vincent Clerc have been ruled out of Sunday's (NZT) Six Nations championship game against Wales, coach Philippe Saint Andre.

Lock Pape's replacement as captain will be known later today when Saint-Andre unveils his squad for the Stade de France match.

"I can announce that Pascal Pape will be absent against Wales. He is suffering from sciatica", Saint-Andre was quoted as telling a news conference by the Six Nations's official website.

Pape had to leave the pitch after suffering a blow in a rough challenge midway through the second half against Italy.

Jocelino Suta has been called up as cover.

Clerc was a possible inclusion in the squad against Wales after being dropped from the group to face Italy but he has not fully recovered from a thigh injury.

"He won't be in contention because apparently he won't start running again before Wednesday," said Saint-Andre.

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