Azzurri: Never-say-die attitude and few regrets

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

4 thoughts on “Azzurri: Never-say-die attitude and few regrets

  1. Before Ireland looked so impressive against England in Dublin, I was looking ahead to a potential upset by Italy. The passion will certainly be there in the World Cup, which could make up for them being away from Rome.

    I now suspect Ireland will have too much for them, but the Azurri certainly have a chance. It would be funny if they gave the Aussies a fright as well.

  2. Well, agree with Luca analysis, Italy improved in the last 4 years with a great work of Mallet and his staff. Big push also came thanks to 2 teams in Celtic League, now Italia can play 80 minutes with good intensity and pace.
    Anyway, also if it’s possible beat Ireland in next WC, can’t imagine how italia could beat Australia; still too much difference.
    For Italy, going to second phase would be a great success.

  3. Well, what to say…Italy is certainly going for it!
    Anything could happen, why do you guys tend to analyse everything?!

  4. I have to say that I was impressed by Italy during the Six Nations. Even against England for 20 minutes they tried to take the english on but once they conceded the first try you could see the confidence drain.
    Masi is a far better full back than Mclean in my opinion and its a pity that he had to go off againist Scotland because it remove there counter attacking option. I am convinced they would have gone on to beat the Scots otherwise.
    Can they beat Ireland at the World Cup ? It depends on which Ireland turns up (or should I say is still standing) come October. If the Ireland of the last six months arrives then Italy can beat us if they are in the right frame of mind and not hampered by injury. If Ireland that beat England arrive then Italy will be beaten no matter what they do. But untill Ireland prove that it wasnt the sight of the red rose that made them perform in the last round I will be nervous about playing Italy which is something that I didnt expect to be saying when the draw was made.
    Maybe we will regret letting the Italians into the magners league when we knew that our World Cup ambitions rested on beating them.
    The one worry I would have about Italy ability to make an impact at the world cup is that Bergmasco place kicking is not as reliable as you would like it in a tight game but maybe with hard work between now and then he can improve it.

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