On June 8th, 2002 an 18-year-old Sergio Parisse stepped onto the pitch for Italy for the first time, the next 17 years are history.
From day one he has been up against it on the international stage, facing the mighty New Zealand on his debut as his team fell to a 64-10 defeat.
Since then his country have lost a further 99 matches out of the 134, he has played in, but it is a tale of wrong place and time for a rugby legend.
While his team has had poor fortunes on the pitch he has stood out, and to the despair of the nation he comes into the upcoming 6 Nations admitting it could be his last.
“Maybe it will be my last Six Nations, but I don’t like to think or talk too much about the future. In my head, I know I want to play in my fifth World Cup,”
If it is to be the end Italy may well regret not making the most of the time, they have had with Parisse in the team.
At 35, this will be his 15th championship, he has played in the competition 65 times and will play a record 66th on Saturday against Scotland.
In that time Italy have finished bottom of the table on many occasions, even with the power and creative flare of their feisty No 8.
He has contributed seven tries and a memorable drop-goal to the Italian cause in that time, while others around him failed to reach his heights.
The problem Italy have had over the years is winning games often overly relying on their captain. They are currently on a 17-game losing streak in the 6 Nations with their last win coming on February 28th, 2015 against Saturday’s opponents.
With this there has been calls for Italy to be taken out of the tournament with Georgia being put in. However, Parisse believes that Italy have earned their place to compete above the Georgians.
aredoing good things and good for them, but we showed last November that we play on another level to them,”
With less than a hand full of wins over the past two years, people have questioned whether head coach Conor O’Shea is the man for the job.
What people forget is that without O’Shea, captain fantastic Parisse could have left in 2015 only for the No 8 to get fully behind O’Shea’s vision, even saying he wishes that the system was in place earlier.
“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,” he said.
“Personally, I wish we’d made those changes 10 years ago. But it’s better now than to continue doing nothing,”
Their rise is a positive for a nation desperate for an upturn in fortunes.
However, with two-time world player of the year nominee Parisse possibly going into his final year, they will need to replace not only a
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Champions Cup, Line Ups, Predictions, KO Times & TV Coverage.
Henderson Returns for Bath Game
Leinster Welcome Stars Back for Benetton Clash
The Low-down on Ulster’s New Signings
These are class. All the Irish Rugby Gifs
“Awful, actually terrible” – Fitzgerald blasts one Ireland star.
Pro141 week ago
Ulster Rugby makes a return to BBC Coverage
Top 141 week ago
Cheika’s Montpellier Move Could Happen Soon
Premiership1 week ago
Former All Black Set for Exiles Debut
International2 days ago
Gatland Suspected Wales Player of Doping
International1 week ago
Scottish Rugby Receive World Rugby Punishment
Pro141 week ago
Munster v Ulster | Team News
International6 days ago
Former Ireland Player Questions Springboks RWC Win
Pro141 week ago
Leinster Smash Connacht for Another Win