Six Nations: Italian renaissance or simple sketch?

After beating Wales last year in the Tournament and Australia in November, the Nazionale, opposed to the Blues on Sunday, will want to prove that the dark years are a thing of the past.

The end of a long ordeal. Last year, on the last day of the Tournament, Italy won in Cardiff against Wales (21-22)after a crazy race by Ange Capuozzo concluded with an essay by Edoardo Padovani. Superb and moving explosion of joy from the Italians, who put an end to 40 defeats in a row, in seven years, in the competition. In the process, the Transalpine autumn tour confirmed the upturn: despite an embarrassing setback in Georgia in July (28-19), Italy have, for the first time in their history, brought down Australia in the fall (28-27).

It is therefore time for confirmation for the Nazionale, when finding a Six Nations which she joined in 2000 (13 wins, one draw, 101 losses). “We are going to change a few points for this Six Nations”, has warned New Zealand Italy coach Kieran Crowleyfocused on an ambitious and offensive game. “We have to try to be a little more innovative, he continues. As coaches we have a responsibility to rugby in general. We have to make it a bit more appealing to viewers.”

“Producing something in the field that is pleasing to the eye”

Crowley details his gaming culture and sporting ambitions: “Rugby is an entertainment business, we must have more and more supporters and fans. I’m an older coach now (61 years old, Editor’s note) and it’s not a priority for me to see if we won or lost. But we have a responsibility to produce something on the field that is pleasing to the eye.” Driven by a young generation uninhibited by its brilliance in the under-20s, the Italian selection has not, on the other hand, solved all its problems: consistency in performance, depth of staff… The shortcomings are known.

“Technically, we must continue to work to improve our conquest. We have to develop a game that adapts to the players we have, continues the one who was coach of Canada (2008-2015) then coach of the Benetton Treviso (2016-2021). When you look at a team like France, it’s clear that we are not physically big and massive like them. So, technically, we have to be good on the balls that we will have to negotiate. We also have to be good in the scrum and in touch. If we can do this kind of thing well, then we will be in the game.”

“We will always be the underdogs, and that’s okay”

A priori, the Italians are safe from a rout like that of 2021, where they had “beaten” the greatest number of points (239) and tries (34) conceded in an edition. From there to do better than ten years ago when, under the orders of Jacques Brunel, they had brought down France and Ireland at home? Faced with these two nations, favorites of this 2023 edition, it looks like an impossible mission. But a move could be possible against the Welsh at home and in Scotland. “If you take a poll to find out who is going to finish in last place, everyone will tell you Italy, does not hide Kieran Crowley. We will always be the underdogs, and that’s okay. We only focus on our performance. We have to do things well and be sure of ourselves knowing that we have worked well.

The fact of having ended their black series has in any case uninhibited the Transalpins, who present an upward balance sheet in 2022 (five wins, six losses). “We used to talk about this show all the time. You can always tell you’re not paying attention to it, but it was always somewhere in our heads.”confides an optimistic Kieran Crowley: “We may be at the dawn of a new era. Let’s wait and see…” The fear of doing wrong must disappear for Captain Michele Lamaro and his troops. In any case, the atmosphere was relaxed. “You have to create an environment in which the players can flourish, confirms the coach of the Nazionale. When things are not going well, you also have to accept it because it can happen. Players can make mistakes but they have to learn from them.” To see Sunday (4 p.m.) against the XV of France, number 2 in the world ranking which remains on thirteen successes in a row.

Six Nations: Italian renaissance or simple sketch?