Six Nations key stars: Ange Capuozzo is central to Italy’s mission

Dylan Coetzee
Ange Capuozzo looks on with the Italy flag

The 2023 Six Nations begins this weekend, and fans can expect another blockbuster Championship filled with sensational rugby, team tries and moments of individual brilliance.

In anticipation of the start of Rugby’s Greatest Championship, Planet Rugby has a closer look at key players from each team, starting with Italy’s Ange Capuozzo.

Background

The Italian superstar was, in fact, born in Le Pont-de-Claix in France, where he would later go on to represent the French Pro D2 club Grenoble over 50 times in a three-year stint.

Courtesy of his Italian father, Capuozzo came through the Italy U20 ranks and Italy ‘A’ before making his international debut in last season’s Six Nations, scoring a brace against Scotland in his first Test.

Toulouse snapped up the speedster who would kick on from a positive debut and finish 2022 as World Rugby’s Breakthrough Player of the Year, complete with five tries in seven Tests.

Capuozzo is regarded as one of rugby’s greatest prospects, as he is expected to take his game even further despite his relative inexperience at the highest level.

Strengths

The outside back’s X-factor and running ability are what separate him from others. There is this sense of anticipation every time Capuozzo touches the ball, as a moment of magic could happen at any moment.

The 23-year-old has outstanding vision, which he instinctively uses to unlock defensive lines to either go on his own or play a teammate in.

Undoubtedly anything venomous coming from Italy in this year’s Six Nations likely has Capuozzo’s fingerprints on it.

Weaknesses

Whilst no great weaknesses have dramatically shown their head, the most obvious one is lack of physicality. At 1.77 metres and 77 kilograms, Capuozzo does not offer much on the physical front.

However, rugby has seen the likes of Cheslin Kolbe thrive at any level, and the same can be expected of Capuozzo, although it is inevitable that in certain situations, he will come off second best in the collision.

Six Nations history

Capuozzo’s Test career began around this time last year when he burst onto the scene with a brace against Scotland.

Despite the sensational debut, it would not be his greatest moment in the championship, which came in the last round against Wales. There were only a couple of minutes left on the clock with Italy in striking distance but never looked like winning until the ball got cleared to the Italian phenom.

Capuozzo received possession in his own half, skirted around the defensive line and found space in the right-hand flank. He proceeded to slalom past a defender before tipping it off to teammate Edoardo Padovani who scored with seconds left.

History for Italy as they claimed their first win in Cardiff! Just like that, the rugby world knew the name Ange Capuozzo.

Why Capuozzo is crucial for the Azzurri

This aspect speaks for itself. The young star is arguably the brightest prospect on the globe. He is potent with ball in hand and knows his way to the try-line.

If he is not scoring the tries, he will be instrumental in them, no doubt head coach Kieran Crowley will want his players to get the ball to Capuozzo in the right spaces as much as possible.

It is a massive championship for the outside back as the rugby world will watch to see if he can kick on and become one of the greatest Italian players in years to come.

READ MORE: Six Nations: Wales hand Leigh Halfpenny first start in 19 months for Ireland opener