Connect with us

6 Nations

Are Italy on the Rise Despite Losses?

Italy have been in a crisis for a while but are their losses only one side of a story that could be turning in the right the direction at last?

Published

on

Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

When Italy host Ireland in a couple of weeks’ time they could potentially fall to their 20th defeat in a row in the 6 Nations but are things actually looking up?

There have been calls for Italy to be replaced in the competition by the likes of Georgia as people are becoming frustrated watching them become the whipping boys of the tournament.

Wales were able to change 10 players in their starting XV when they met Italy over the weekend and still came away with a win, however, the difference was only 11 points this year, compared to 24 last year.

Even against Scotland, Italy showed a spirit to keep going to the end and were rewarded with three tries in the final 10 minutes, something we wouldn’t have seen before.

Results are one thing that speak volumes but what Conor O’Shea has begun in Italy is a system of building the country into one that compete.

He has targeted the two main clubs in Italy as the place to lay the foundations of this structure and nobody can argue that it isn’t working.

You only have to look at the Pro 14 tables to see that Benetton are currently heading into a match with Leinster on Saturday in a clash of the current top two in Conference B.

Yes, there may only be two points separating them in second and Ulster in fifth, but they are in with a real shout of claiming a semi-final spot and that is not something that should be laughed at.

Zebre on the other hand are currently bottom of Conference A but there is progress for one of the two.

Italy captain Sergio Parisse has often talked of O’Shea’s tactics and his admiration for them.

“Over the past three years with Conor we have started making a lot of changes in Italy, working behind the scenes with the two franchises,”

“Personally, I wish we’d made those changes 10 years ago. But it’s better now than to continue doing nothing,”

Parisse himself is one of only three players in the 31-man Italian squad not to be playing his trade in his home country showing O’Shea’s belief in the grassroots programme they are creating.

With 18 of the 31 coming from Benetton it will surely encourage future players to continue their development in their home nation.

On the international stage itself there has been less of a reliance on the legendary No 8 too. With players such as Tomasso Allan, Braam Steyn and Edoardo Padovani showing they are capable of performing to a higher level.

The simple fact is that despite all the losses and talk of being cut out of the tournament, Italy only started this process three years ago, not 10 like Parisse wishes.

In three years, Benetton have gone from bottom of the table to a possible Champions Cup team. That is incredible in itself and it is clear that the players are able to compete at club level.

Time will tell if they can replicate that on an international stage, and if Zebre can match Benetton’s heights, but maybe for now we should cut them some slack.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we should remember that before we crush the dream’s being developed in the Italian hearts or we could regret losing a potentially great team out of a great competition.

6 Nations

Wales Dealt Six Nations Double-Blow

Wales’ Six Nations title defence has been dealt a massive blow already with two stars facing surgery to fix injuries picked up on international duty

Published

on

(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Wales will be without both Jonathan Davies and Rhys Patchell for some part of the 2020 Six Nations campaign due to injury it has been confirmed.

Davies, a key member of the Welsh squad for the past number of seasons sustained a knee injury during Wales’ recent Rugby World Cup campaign, and Scarlets have announced that he will undergo surgery on the injury.

The recovery time for the for the centre is set to be six months, meaning he will miss the entire Six Nations tournament in what could be a critical blow as they look to defend their title. While it also means that he could potentially miss the entire club season for Scarlets.

As for Patchell, things aren’t as severe as Davies, but the fly-half is still set to miss the start of the Six Nations with a shoulder injury, which he too will have surgery on.

He is expected to miss between 12-16 weeks due to the injury in what is a cruel blow for a player that has suffered with injury previously, but had shown some brilliant form in recent times.

It is a far from ideal start to life at the helm for new head coach Wayne Pivac as he heads into his first tournament with the team.

As well as these injuries there are also further concerns regarding the likes of stars Liam Williams and Josh Navidi, who are both currently sidelined through injury, with the former looking likely to miss some part of the Six Nations.

Wales are looking to bounce-back during the tournament following a fourth-place finish at the World Cup, with all players hoping to impress Warren Gatland’s successor.

Continue Reading

6 Nations

Munster Star in Six Nations Fitness Race

Munster have confirmed that one of their key men is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines which could put his Six Nations spot in doubt

Published

on

(Photo by Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Munster fly-half Joey Carbery is set for yet another spell in the sidelines according to head coach Johann van Graan due to injury.

Van Graan confirmed that Carbery is still suffering from an ankle injury which he sustained during Ireland’s Rugby World Cup warm-up game against Italy and is not able to put a return date for his comeback  due to the nature of the injury. 

“He is going to be out for some time. We got to make sure he gets his strength back and we get that ankle fully functional. From Joey’s point of view, obviously, he wants to play but his body is not right. Because of the type of injury he is definitely not going to be back in the next few weeks, I can tell you that,” he said on Carbery. 

The out-half was selected ahead of Leinster’s Ross Byrne in Ireland’s World Cup squad despite carrying the injury. However, it was reiterated throughout the tournament that he had fully recovered, which now appears to be untrue. 

His head coach also told reporters that the 23-year-old will not undergo surgery on the injury. When asked about the possibility of Carbery playing before Christmas van Graan admitted he is hopeful but he cannot be sure right now. 

“I hope so. At this stage it is very difficult for the medical team to determine that. Because he has had it for quite a while the most important thing now is Joey’s health. He is a Munster player. He is under my watch now so we have got to look after him. He is very important for the national team, I believe, for the future of Irish rugby,” he added. 

It is a massive blow for the Munster player who only moved from Leinster ahead of last season, and after starting brightly in the red jersey he picked up a hamstring injury that left him out for large portions of the season. 

The fear for Carbery now however is that due to the nature of the injury and the inability to place a return date, he could face a race to be fit for Ireland’s Six Nations campaign at the start of February next year. Carbery will hopefully be back in action and back to match fitness by then as he will want the chance to impress new head coach Andy Farrell during his first tournament at the helm.

Continue Reading

6 Nations

Japan Could Receive Six Nations Invitation

Following their incredible performances during this year’s Rugby World Cup it appears as though hosts Japan could be set for inclusion in one of the biggest international tournaments according to reports

Published

on

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Japan are to be handed an invite into the Six Nations after their impressive showing at this year’s Rugby World Cup, according to a report by the Mail Online.

The report by Martin Samuel claims that the World Cup host nation, who went all the way to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history, are to “receive a shock invitation” to European rugby’s elite international competition. 

It was previously thought that a move to the Rugby Championship would make more sense and that it was on the cards as the Southern Hemisphere nations were impressed by the brand of rugby that Japan played. 

However, it appears as though the tournament organisers are hesitant to bring them into the championship straight away, and are looking to include them within the next four or five years. Which would see them join come the end of the next World Cup cycle and see them miss out on some valuable development time ahead of the tournament. 

The report is clear that although formal talks between the Brave Blossoms and the Six Nations are yet to take place that World Rugby have been made aware that leading figures within the European organisation are very interested in the prospect. 

It would be a brilliant opportunity for the Japanese as they look to expand interest in the sport within the country and are in a prime position to do so with interest at an all time high following the success of the tournament in the Land of the Rising Sun. 

They have earned respect especially within Europe following wins over Six Nations side’s Scotland and Ireland during the group stages of the World Cup with Japan now sitting ahead of the former in 8th position in the World Rugby rankings due to their performances. 

Japan were among several tier two nations backing the making of a Nations Championship which would have allowed the likes of Fiji and themselves compete against the best nations around on an annual basis and with these developments it will raise further questions as to why the competition isn’t being developed. 

We will have to wait and see how things progress over the coming weeks and months but it seems as though Japan are in with a bigger chance than ever before in being added to one of the biggest international tournaments on the planet.

Continue Reading

Trending