State of the Nation: Italy

Date published: March 20 2017

With the Six Nations now done and dusted, we look at the state of affairs in each of the competing nations. Next up, Italy.

After all the promise Italy showed after claiming one of their more impressive scalps at the end of last season when they beat the Springboks, they didn't have much to show for in Six Nations 2017. The Azzurri let in an embarrassing 22 tries in the competition which is not an attractive statistic for O'Shea and his coaching staff.

Italy started off the tournament in a disappointing fashion after losing to Wales in Rome 33-7, conceding three tries in the process. Their next fixture didn't get any better after suffering a heavy 63-10 loss to Ireland at home once again, this time letting in a whopping nine tries go past them.

O'Shea did show he had a few tricks up his sleeves when Italy travelled to Twickenham to take on reigning champions England. Italy employed an ingenious strategy where they didn't contest at the rucks which allowed them to defend in what would've be an off sides position. The ploy sent the England gameplan into a tail spin as the home side struggled to get forward-moving ball, with Italy going into the change rooms at half time 10-5 up.

England did find their feet eventually and proceeded to score six tries in the second half to send the Italians packing. There next two games were not much better after a home 40-18 loss to France and 29-0 defeat to Scotland at Murray field. Italy failed to pick up even a single losing-bonus point from the tournament.

It wasn't all negative though as there were some positive performances from some of their younger players which Italy will take solace in. 24-year old fly-half Carlo Canna, who was chosen as the main-stay fly-half, had some decent performances in the 10 shirt. His goal kicking was solid throughout the tournament while controlling his channel well.

Full-back Edoardo Padovani started every Test and performed well despite being under pressure in most of the games, wracking up some very respectable running metres and proving to be an expert at breaking the opposition line on a few occasions. 

While 24-year old outside centre Michele Campagnaro had a few mercurial performances in the Six Nations, one in particular against England after scoring a scintillating try where he received the ball on the home side's 22 metre line before charging over England fly-half George Ford to set up a one-on-one with Mike Brown. He used his lightening quick feet to dance around the full-back to score.

Italy have two touring Tests coming up in June they must prepare for. They take on Fiji away on June 17 which will be a tough clash with the Pacific Islanders ranked four places above Italy on the World Rugby rankings.

They then travel to Australia to play the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on June 24 which will be a mountain to climb for the Azzurri.