Defending champions France open Six Nations 2023 against Italy

FILE - France's Antoine Dupont lifts the trophy after the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and England at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, near Paris, on March 19, 2022. France, champions of the Six Nations , will begin their title defense at the 2023 Tournament by taking on Italy in Rome before taking on Ireland the following weekend in Dublin.  (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

FILE – France’s Antoine Dupont lifts the trophy after the Six Nations international rugby union match between France and England at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, near Paris, on March 19, 2022. France, champions of the Six Nations , will begin their title defense at the 2023 Tournament by taking on Italy in Rome before taking on Ireland the following weekend in Dublin. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

PA

Six Nations champions France will begin their title defense at the 2023 tournament by taking on Italy in Rome before taking on Ireland the following weekend in Dublin.

The schedule was announced on Wednesday and again features the Calcutta Cup in the first round with Scotland visiting Twickenham in search of a third straight win against England.

The competition kicks off on February 4 with Wales hosting Ireland, who won the Triple Crown this year.

France won the Six Nations for the first time in 12 years after beating England 25-13 to complete the Grand Slam in March and, like other top teams in the tournament, will have their eye on the Cup next year World Rugby 2023.

France host Scotland in the third round before traveling to England and finishing at home to Wales on March 18.

In Round 4, Wales travel to Rome seeking revenge for their loss to the Italians this year in Italy’s first Six Nations victory in seven tournaments.

The other ‘Super Saturday’ finals are Scotland hosts Italy, while England play Dublin in what is expected to be a lively game on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

There are no Friday night matches on next year’s schedule.

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