Italy Six Nations

Have Italy finally turned a corner this Six Nations?

For years rugby fans have wanted to see a competitive Italy side in the Six Nations… or to see them relegated. 

There have been various false dawns, most recently in 2022 when Paolo Garbisi’s last minute conversion snatched victory against Wales in Cardiff.

The following year, the Azzurri lost every game and, despite some respectable scorelines, were disappointing after their previous heroics. 

However, it now feels like they are properly turning a corner and are on the verge of being the competitive side that everyone wants to see. 

The Ireland game aside, Italy have three points from games against England and France and could easily have won both of those games. 

Against England, Italy struggled but stayed in the fight, outscoring their opponent on tries thanks to Monty Ioane’s last-gasp score.

Ireland will make any side in the tournament look weak, so their thrashing of Gonzalo Quesada’s side should be taken with a pinch of salt.

A draw against France away from home would have been unthinkable five years ago yet if it weren’t for the ball falling from the tee, Italy should have won that game.

However, this should still be seen as a huge success for Italy, not least of all because it propelled them into the top ten in the world rankings for the first time since 2013.

The Ireland game aside, the Italians have gone from plucky underdogs who hold on for 50 minutes before succumbing to their opponent to a team which genuinely threaten to beat their opponents. 

A major contributing factor in this is the upturn in results for the Italy under-20s side. 

Italy’s youngsters have undergone a steady rise up the Six Nations table and finished third last year, having finished fourth the year before. 

This year they sit fourth but managed to do what their senior side could not do by beating France, as well as pushing the much-vaunted Ireland team right to the end. 

It now feels like we are starting to see the fruits of Italian age-grade rugby’s labours, with the senior side starting to threaten wins as opposed to valiant losses. 

Admittedly, threatening a win still constitutes a valiant loss, but there is a sense that these could realistically have been Italian victories. 

It is important to remember that the Azzurri’s senior team is far from the finished product, with many of their players aged 25 or below. 

You only have to look at their half-back partnerships to see that there is plenty to come from this Italy side in this Six Nations and beyond. 

It is easy to forget Paolo Garbisi at fly-half is just 23, such is his maturity, and his scrum-half partners Alessandro Garbisi, Stephen Varney and Martin Page-Relo are just 21, 22 and 25 respectively. 

With more experience and a fresh crop of youngsters spilling out of the under 20s, you would expect Italy to start claiming more wins not just at the Six Nations, but also at World Cups to come.

Image credits: lucia parrillo from Pixabay

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