France to host Italy in Marseille
SIX NATIONS NEWS: France will host Italy in their Six Nations tie on February 23 next in Marseille, the first time a match in the tournament has been played outside the French capital.
New French Rugby Federation (FFR) President Bernard Laporte pushed through the initiative which must now be rubber stamped by the Six Nations committee.
The idea gained momentum after this year's Top 14 semi-finals were played in Marseille on front of bumper crowds of over 63,000 for each game.
Marseille's 67,000-seater Stade Velodrome had been in the running to host the second autumn international on November 14 against New Zealand but the FFR instead opted for Lyon.
The French play the All Blacks on November 11 and South Africa seven days later in the Stade de France, and Japan on November 25 in Lille.
France's last match in Marseille was a 40-15 win over Fiji on November 8, 2014.
France - who last won the Six Nations in 2010 - have played all matches since 1998 at Stade de France. Before that matches were played in the Stade Yves-du-Manoir in Colombes and Parc des Princes.
The match will be the third of the tournament which gets underway on February 3.