Italian fan Luca Sabia reflects on Italy’s Six Nations campaign and looks ahead to the Rugby World Cup.
It’s time to reflect in Rome. What is the real picture of the Italian rugby team after the Six Nations 2011? Even if Andrea Masi has been appointed “Player of the Championship”, the first Italian to win the award in the whole history of Italian rugby, the team still has to reflect on a number of issues.
Some things went wrong, some things went well. In other words, the team played inconsistently, and ended up placed last in the competition and taking home the dreaded wooden spoon.
However, there are three key positives as we begin to build up to the Rugby World Cup 2011 next September in New Zealand: passion, possession and fairness.
Taking these in reverse order, statistics show that Italy was the most disciplined side in the competition. They conced 41 penalties in their five matches, and were awarded 71 – 33 more than any other team.
Furthermore the Italian team enjoyed excellent possession which avoided heavier losses against Ireland and Wales, for instance. They hardly saw the ball against England, and so it’s no surprise that that was the biggest defeat.
Finally, the passion within the team was the key to a victory which put the team another step forward on the road to more competitive standards. It is difficult maintaining the same concentration when you lose match after match, and the will to succeed could be seriously damaged. But this was not the case for the Italian players, and it was that passion that drove the Azzurri in that dramatic victory over the French earlier this month. The players in that match were one single body.
Even if Italy couldn’t quite match the 2007 season, when they won two matches against Scotland and Wales, the players can reflect on their 2011 campaign with pride. We should also see a shift in mentality towards a more confident side that can make the most of possession and start to challenge the top teams more often.
With Australia, Ireland, USA and Russia joining Italy in Pool C, there is half a chance of progressing to the knockout stages. Ireland should have been beaten in Rome, and could be vulnerable in New Zealand, and who says we can’t take on the likes of Australia as well?
By Luca Sabia