Neha Patil (Editor)

Italy national rugby union team

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Covid-19
Nickname(s)  Azzurri
Top scorer  Diego Dominguez (983)
Home stadium  Stadio Olimpico
Captain  Sergio Parisse
Location  Italy
Most caps  Sergio Parisse (124)
Top try scorer  Marcello Cuttitta (25)
Arena/Stadium  Stadio Olimpico
Head coach  Conor O'Shea
Union  Italian Rugby Federation
Italy national rugby union team httpscdnsoticserversnettoolsgetlibraryimage
Current  13 (as of 21 November 2016)

Italy vs france rugby 6 nations 2017


The Italy national rugby union team represents the nation of Italy in the sport of rugby union. The team is also known as the Azzurri (Sky-Blues).

Contents

Italy has been playing international rugby since 1929, and for decades were considered one of the best European teams outside the Five Nations Championship. Since 2000, Italy competes annually in the Six Nations Championship with England, France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They were the holders of the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy for 2013, played annually against France. Italy is ranked 14th in the world by the IRB as of 22 April 2016.

Italian rugby really came to prominence in 2000 when it was added to the Five Nations, creating the Six Nations. Initially on the end of some heavy defeats, the side has grown in competitiveness, recording a fourth-place finish in 2007 and 2013, and even in defeat, lop-sided losses are less frequent. The Azzurri have shown respectable results when playing at home in recent years: during the 2011 Six Nations, the side defeated France 22–21, and in the 2013 Six Nations, Italy won again at home against France (23–18), and defeated Ireland 22–15.

Italy have also competed at every Rugby World Cup since the first tournament in 1987, but have yet to progress beyond the first round. The team has developed a reputation for being a consistent middle player at the tournament. Italy's showings since 2003 have consistently followed a formula where they managed two wins and two losses during the pool stages.

The current head coach is Conor O'Shea. Number eight Sergio Parisse is their current captain.

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Early history: 1911–34

The first match played by an Italian XV was in 1911 between US Milanese and Voiron of France. On 25 July of the same year the "Propaganda Committee" was formed which in 1928 became the Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR) (Italian Rugby Federation).

In May 1929, Italy played their first international losing 9–0 against Spain in Barcelona. After the formation of FIRA in 1934, which brought together the national teams of Italy, France, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Germany

1945–85

World War II meant an hiatus for Italian rugby union, as it did in other rugby-playing nations. Post-war, there was a desire to return to normal and Italian rugby union entered a new dimension thanks to the help of Allied troops in Italy.

In the 1970s and 1980s rugby union made enormous progress thanks to great foreign players (John Kirwan, Naas Botha, David Campese, Michael Lynagh) and coaches (Julien Saby, Roy Bish, Greenwood, Nelie Smith) in the Italian championship. Even foreign coaches were and continue to be chosen for the national team, like Bertrande Fourcade and Georges Coste. In 1973, the national team went on a tour of South Africa, coached by ex-Springbok prop Amos Du Plooey. Tours of England and Scotland followed, as well as games against Australia and New Zealand, the masters of their day. In 1978, Italy first played Argentina at Rovigo, winning 19-6.

1986–99

Since the mid 1980s, the Italian national side had been pursuing the ambition of playing in an expanded Five Nations Championship. Consistently winning against nations that now play in the European Nations Cup (Romania, Spain, Georgia, etc.), and good results against the major nations such as France, Scotland, Wales and Ireland meant that they were often talked as strong candidates.

In 1986, Italy hosted an England XV squad in Rome, drawing 15-15. The Azzurri took part in the first-ever Rugby World Cup match against New Zealand on 22 May 1987. The match proved a one-sided affair with New Zealand convincing 70–6 winners against a young Italian side. John Kirwan, later to become the Italian national coach, scored one of the tournament’s greatest-ever tries for the All Blacks. Italy beat Fiji but lost to Argentina and finished third in their pool, failing to make the finals. In 1988, they played Ireland for the first time.

At the 1991 World Cup, Italy were grouped in a tough pool with the likes of England and the All Blacks. They lost both of these games but beat the USA. Italy first played Wales in 1994. At the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, Italy came close to beating England; losing 20–27, but recovered to beat Argentina. They finished third in their pool again below England and Western Samoa, but above the Argentines.

The late 1990s saw the Italians build a formidable side and record Test victories over Five Nations opposition. In 1996, a deal between British Sky Broadcasting and the Rugby Football Union meant that England home games were exclusively shown on Sky. England were threatened with being expelled from the Five Nations to be replaced by Italy. This threat was never carried out as a deal was worked out.

In 1996, Italy toured England, Wales and for the first time Scotland, losing all matches. The team recorded two consecutive victories over Ireland in 1997; 37–29 on 4 January, at Lansdowne Road, and 37–22 on 20 December, in Bologna. On 22 March 1997 they recorded their first win over France, 40–32, (in Grenoble). In January 1998, Scotland were the victims with Italy winning 25–21 (in Treviso); in the same year in the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers, they narrowly lost 23–15 against England at Huddersfield, but they argued for a try by Alessandro Troncon disallowed by the referee.

At the 1999 World Cup, Italy were drawn with New Zealand for the third time and lost again. They did not win a single pool match and went home before the knock-out stage.

Six Nations era: 2000–present

Italy finally joined the Six Nations Championship in 2000 but their admission coincided with the departure of some of their best players. Nevertheless, they won their opening game against the reigning champions Scotland 34–20. Thereafter they struggled to compete against the other nations and their participation was called into question. The 2001 and 2002 tournaments were particularly disappointing as they did not win a single game. Coach Brad Johnstone was sacked in 2002 after an alleged show of 'player power'.

John Kirwan was then appointed coach. Italy won two pool games at the 2003 World Cup, defeating both Canada and Tonga, but lost to the All Blacks and Wales. They managed to get their second Six Nations win in 2003 30–22 against Wales and Italy avoided the wooden spoon. They followed up by winning two games at the World Cup, another first, though the tournament was ultimately disappointing as the Welsh gained revenge with a 27–15 success that meant that Italy were the only Six Nations country not to advance to the knock-out stage. Their third win came against Scotland in 2004.

Italy, along with other nations, had made good use of IRB rules which allowed them to select foreign born players if they had Italian ancestry or had lived in Italy for a qualifying period of 3 years. From 2004 they announced that they would only pick three such 'non-Italians' per team in order to develop their own domestic players.

In the 2005 Six Nations Italy finished bottom of the table again and failed to win a single game. Kirwan was sacked and replaced with Pierre Berbizier. Italy then went on a tour of Argentina where they surprised many by beating the Pumas 30–29 and drawing the series 1–1 (the only 2005 victory of a northern hemisphere team visiting a southern hemisphere team). However the Pumas had their revenge when they visited Genoa and beat Italy 39–22.

In the 2006 Six Nations Championship the Italian team performed strongly against every team, leading against both England and France in the first half, but lost their first three games. They did, however, get a creditable 18–18 draw away to Wales, their first ever away point in the tournament, and were unlucky not to draw with Scotland in Rome in the final game, losing 10–13 courtesy of a late Scottish penalty. In the 2007 Six Nations Championship, Italy started poorly, losing to France 3–39. However, Italy's performance improved, and they held England to a 20–7 result at Twickenham. Italy followed with a stunning start to their match at Murrayfield against Scotland, scoring three quick tries to give Italy a 21–0 lead after 7 minutes, and the Azzurri went on to a 37–17 victory; their first-ever away win in the Six Nations. Italy's next match was against Wales in Rome, with Italy winning 23–20, for their first consecutive victories in the competition and help them achieve their highest-ever position in the competition. The domestic interest in rugby reached new heights with Italy's new success front page media coverage and the sport being held up as a model of fair play. Media and public interest in the national team was very high during the side's newfound success, despite losing their last game to Ireland. 10,000 fans later greeted the national team at Rome's Piazza del Popolo.

The 2008 Six Nations Championship saw the Italians again finish in last place, albeit by only a three-point margin. They took part in close matches against Ireland, Wales England and France respectively and managed a sole victory, defeating Scotland 23–20 in Rome in the last round of matches. In the summer tests they lost to South Africa but again managed to surprise 3rd ranked Argentina with a 13–12 victory. At the 2008 end of year tour Italy pushed the Wallabies in their clash in Padova, but the Australians eventually went on to win 30–20. A week later the Italians were defeated by Argentina, 14–22.

Italy's 2009 Six Nations campaign was star-crossed almost from the beginning, with both scrum-halves ruled out of the competition before a ball was kicked, and a third alternative ruled out of the opener at England due to injury. Head coach Nick Mallett tried flanker Mauro Bergamasco at scrum-half. Mallett's gamble failed in epic fashion, with Bergamasco's mistakes leading to three England tries before he was replaced at the half; England went on to win 36–11. In week two Italy also put in a poor performance against Ireland losing 38-9. The two poor performances were followed by another loss to Scotland. The Azzurri were competitive in their 20–15 loss at the Flaminio to a Wales side resting many of its key players for the championship decider against Ireland the next week. Italy finished in last place for the second straight year after losing to France on the final weekend of the tournament.

In the 2010 Six Nations Championship, Italy were well beaten by Ireland 29-11 before narrowly losing to England and defeating Scotland. Italy were defeated in their last two matches against France and Wales.

Italy finished the 2011 Six Nations with a 1–4 record. In the opening match of the 2011 Six Nations, Italy was beaten by Ireland 11–13 at home, with Ireland scoring a drop goal less than 2 minutes before the final whistle. The Azzurri claimed a 22–21 home victory over the reigning Six Nations champions, France, gaining Italy's first ever win over France in a Six Nations game. At the final whistle, the English language commentator declared it the greatest win in Italian rugby history thus far.

Italy finished the 2012 Six Nations in fifth place with a 1–4 record, following a 13–6 win over Scotland before over 72,000 fans at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Italy's 15–19 defeat was Italy's closest ever margin to defeating England. The championship also saw Italy lose to Wales, Ireland and France.

Italy played three matches in the 2012 November internationals, losing two and winning one. The Italian's lost to New Zealand and Australia 22-19, with Italian fly half Luciano Orquera missing a penalty in the last minute which would have secured Italy's first ever draw against Australia. Italy did manage a win in the series, beating Tonga 28-23.

Italy gained their second ever Six Nations win over France when they beat them 23-18 on their opening match of the 2013 Six Nations Championship. Three defeats by Scotland, Wales and England followed. On their final game of the championship Italy won against Ireland 22-15 for the first time ever in a Six Nations match in front of 75,000 fans at the Stadio Olimpico. Overall Italy finished fourth, Behind Scotland in third on points difference, to make it one of their most successful Six Nations ever. In November 2013, Italy hosted Australia at Turin for a 20-50 loss, then defeated Fiji 37–31 at Cremona and was defeated by Argentina 14–19 at Rome.

Italy where whitewashed at the 2014 Six Nations Championship, including a 20-21 home loss to Scotland, a 46–7 loss to Ireland and a 11–52 loss to England. In June the team made an Asia-Pacific tour, where they were defeated by Fiji, Japan and Samoa. In November they scored a home win to Samoa, a two-point loss to Argentina and another loss to South Africa.

In the 2015 Six Nations Championship, Italy took a 19–22 away win over Scotland to avoid the Wooden Spoon, but suffered heavy home losses to France and Wales. At the 2015 Rugby World Cup, they defeated Romania and Canada but lost to Ireland and France, repeating their performance of the previous three editions.

After another poor performance in 2016, losing all their Six Nations matches, Italy hired former Ireland international and Harlequin F.C. coach Conor O'Shea to coach the team; with him they also hired IRFU developmental director Stephen Aboud to direct youth programs in the country, in order to strengthen the level of rugby in the country. In June, the team Italy lost to Argentina and won over the United States and Canada. On November 19, Italy achieved a famous upset victory by defeating South Africa 20-18 which was Italy's first ever win against the Springboks in 13 attempts at Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. This victory also marked their first ever win over one of the 3 big Southern Hemisphere nations (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa).

Stadium & Attendance

Before joining the Six Nations in 2000 Italy did not have a set stadium and played their home matches in various stadiums around Italy. From 2000-2011 Italy played all of their home Six Nations matches at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome. The Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) announced, in January 2010, that the stadium would undergo an expansion, that will increase its capacity to 42,000. Continued delays to the start of construction meant that the revamp could not be completed in time for the 2012 Six Nations so all of Italy's home Six Nations games were moved to the Stadio Olimpico, also in Rome. The expansion of the Stadio Flaminio was originally promised to be complete by 2014. It was planned that upon completion of the renovation, the Italian team will move back to the Stadio Flaminio, however little was achieved and as of September 2016 the stadium was still in a state of abandoned disrepair. More Italians are coming to watch rugby union games and whereas before most of the fans at the Stadio Flaminio were away fans, now Italy has a good home crowd. Since moving to the Stadio Olimpico attendances have increased by huge numbers. The Italian team has drawn large crowds since 2008, particularly for Six Nations matches and for matches against New Zealand:

Strip

Italy play in blue jerseys.

Overall

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by an Italy national XV at test level up until 12 March 2017.

Six Nations

Since entering the Six Nations Championship in 2000, Italy have yet to win the tournament. Italy got off to a positive start to the Six Nations in their first year; defeating Scotland 34-20 in their first match of competition. Italy finished fifth in the 2003 competition above Wales. The following year Italy managed to finish fifth again, above Scotland in the final standings. In 2006, Italy drew Wales at Cardiff.

In the 2007 Six Nations Italy defeated Scotland at Murrayfield for their first win away from home (Rome) in the competition with a 37-17 score. Two weeks later Italy defeated Wales for the second time in the history of the tournament in Rome: it was the first time the team won two games in the championship, and finished in 4th place. The winner of the Italy-France game is also awarded the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy.

Italy recorded their first Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy victory on 12 March 2011 with a thrilling 22–21 win, and recorded their second on 3 February 2013 with a 23–18 score. In the 2013 Championship, they also recorded a first Six Nations victory over Ireland, leaving England as the only nation they are yet to beat in the championship, and equalled their best finish of 4th. In 2015, Italy scored their second away win versus Scotland.

Rugby World Cup

Italy have competed at every Rugby World Cup since the competition's inception in 1987. Italy finished third in their pool at their first World Cup, defeating Fiji, but not making the finals. They did not make the finals in 1991, grouped in a tough pool with England and the All Blacks. At the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, they finished behind England and Western Samoa, but above Argentina in their pool.

In 1999 they did not make the finals, with their defeats by the All Blacks and Tonga. Italy won two pool games at the 2003 World Cup, defeating both Canada and Tonga, but lost to the All Blacks and Wales. Italy played the 2007 Rugby World Cup in Pool C, against New Zealand, Scotland, Romania and Portugal (who had been beaten 83–0 by Italy in the qualifiers), with the goal of reaching the quarter finals for the first time. However, in the crucial group match against Scotland, Italy were undone by indiscipline. Chris Paterson kicked all of Scotland's points in an 18–16 victory, despite Italy crossing the line for the game's only try.

European championships

Before 2000, Italy was one of the leading European teams outside the Five Nations, along with Romania, and for a while the USSR.

Italy competed in the original European Championships from 1936–38, but World War II meant that the tournament would not resume until 1952. Italy then competed in these tournaments from 1952–2000. Italy achieved only one the victory in 1995–97 FIRA Trophy.

Current squad

On 13 January 2017, head coach Conor O'Shea named a 32-man squad ahead of the 2017 Six Nations Championship.

On 22 February, Michele Rizzo was named in the team to face England in round 3.

On 1 March, uncapped due Luca Sperandio and Matteo Minozzi was called up to the squad, with Minozzi providing cover for Tommaso Allan.

Head Coach: Conor O'Shea

  • Caps updated: 12 March 2017
  • Note: Flags indicate national union for the club/province as defined by World Rugby.

    References

    Italy national rugby union team Wikipedia


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