Sat, Feb 25, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Resurgent Scots look for Calcutta Cup upset


France vs Italy

France coach Bernard Laporte has admitted that one of the reasons he took up coaching was the example of Pierre Berbizier and today he will have a chance to pit his wits against him.

Laporte, 41, needs his team to put some manners on Berbizier's Italians, who have done well in their first two matches in the Six Nations despite being on the losing side twice against Ireland and England.

France meanwhile lost to Scotland in their opener and then let slip a seemingly invincible 43-3 lead over the Irish -- having been gifted at least three of their tries -- to end up 43-31 victors.

Berbizier compared to Laporte is a thoroughbred in the sport having been capped 56 times for Les Tricolores and been their scrum-half in the 1997 World Cup final where they lost to New Zealand whereas Laporte was a useful scrum-half without being capped.

Like Laporte, though, 46-year-old Berbizier also guided France to a World Cup semi-final in the controversial defeat to eventual winners and hosts South Africa in 1995 -- by contrast Laporte was outmanuevred by Clive Woodward in the 2003 renewal.

However, Laporte's men will start Saturday's match as hot favorites given their pedigree but Berbizier, who in his previous incarnation as a TV consultant was heavily critical of the French at the last World Cup, has engendered a spirit and discipline in the Italy side that was previously missing under Kiwi predecessor John Kirwan.

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