Italy in 2019: Little threat expected

It’s been three years since Italy stunned the Springboks in Florence. JON CARDINELLI reviews their form ahead of the World Cup in Japan.

On that occasion, the Azzurri dominated the more-fancied South Africans at the breakdowns and collisions and went on to claim a historic 20-18 victory.

Italy have failed to build on that performance: they haven’t beaten any other tier-one nation since.

They’ve lost every single Six Nations game they’ve played over the past four years – a win record of 0 from 20 – and their attack has shown few signs of progress. While the other northern-hemisphere nations have taken giant strides forward on defence, Italy have regressed, conceding 200 points or more in three of their last four Six Nations campaigns.

So what should we expect from the Azzurri at the World Cup? They don’t have a great record at these tournaments and have never progressed beyond the pool stage. The 2015 World Cup in England witnessed wins against Canada and Romania by five and 10 points, respectively. They were hammered 32-10 by France in their opening clash and went down 16-9 to Ireland in their final group game.

Italy will face Namibia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand in the pool stages of this year’s World Cup. One would expect them to overcome minnows Namibia and Canada. Their most recent clash with the Canadians in 2016 ended in a 20-18 victory.

The Boks have come a long way since that landmark defeat in Florence. Meanwhile, Italy have suffered a series of embarrassing defeats by tier-one opposition and were ranked 13th – below Japan and Georgia – in August. One cannot see this Italy side springing any significant surprises at this tournament.

– This is a snippet from October issue of SA Rugby magazine that previews every team at the World Cup, now on sale!  

Photo: Getty Images