Italy national rugby union team

The Italy national rugby union team is the representative national team in the sport of rugby union for the nation of Italy. The team is known as gli Azzurri (the Blues). Savoy blue is the common colour of the national teams representing Italy, as it is the traditional colour of the royal House of Savoy which reigned over the Kingdom of Italy from 1860 to 1946.

Italy
Nickname(s)Gli Azzurri (The Blues)
UnionFederazione Italiana Rugby
Head coachFranco Smith (interim)
CaptainSergio Parisse
Most capsSergio Parisse (142)
Top scorerDiego Dominguez (983)
Top try scorerMarcello Cuttitta (25)
Home stadiumStadio Olimpico
First colours
Second colours
World Rugby ranking
Current12 (as of 21 Oct 2019)
Highest8 (2007)
Lowest15 (2015 and 2017)
First international
Spain 9–0 Italy
(Barcelona, 20 May 1929)
Biggest win
Italy 104–8 Czech Republic
(Viadana, 18 May 1994)
Biggest defeat
South Africa 101–0 Italy
(Durban, 19 June 1999)
World Cup
Appearances9 (First in 1987)
Best resultPool stage, 1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019
Websitewww.federugby.it

Italy has played international rugby since 1929, and for decades was considered one of the best European teams outside the Five Nations Championship. Since 2000, Italy has competed annually in the Six Nations Championship with England, France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In 2013, they were holders of the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy which is played annually between Italy and France. Italy is ranked 14th in the world by the IRB as of 30 September 2019.

Italian rugby rose to prominence in 2000 when it was added to the Five Nations, creating the Six Nations. Initially on the receiving end of some heavy defeats, the side has grown in competitiveness, recording a fourth-place finish in 2007 and 2013, and one-sided defeats have become less frequent. The Azzurri have shown respectable results when playing at home in recent years: they defeated France 22–21 in the 2011 Six Nations; and during the 2013 Six Nations, they again beat France 23–18,[1] also defeating Ireland 22–15.[2] However, Italy has not won a Six Nations match since their 22–19 away win against Scotland in Round 3 of the 2015 tournament, losing every game since; this equates to a losing run of 22 matches.

The Italian team has also competed at every Rugby World Cup since the first tournament in 1987, where Italy played the inaugural game against New Zealand, but is yet to progress beyond the first round. The team has developed a reputation for being a consistent middle player at the tournament. Italy's results since the inception of a new group stage formula in 2003 have consistently followed a pattern of two wins and two losses.

The current head coach is Conor O'Shea, and the captain is currently number eight Sergio Parisse.[3]

History

Early history: 1911–34

The first match played by an Italian XV was in 1911 between US Milanese and Voiron of France. On 25 July of the same year the "Propaganda Committee" was formed which in 1928 became the Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR) (Italian Rugby Federation).

In May 1929, Italy played their first international losing 0–9 against Spain in Barcelona. In 1934, Italy was one of the founder members of FIRA, today's Rugby Europe; the others were France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Catalonia, Romania, Holland and Germany.[4]

1945–85

World War II meant an hiatus for Italian rugby union, as it did in other rugby-playing nations. Post-war, there was a desire to return to normal and Italian rugby union entered a new dimension thanks to the help of Allied troops in Italy.

In the 1970s and 1980s rugby union made enormous progress thanks to great foreign players (John Kirwan, Naas Botha, David Campese, Michael Lynagh) and coaches (Julien Saby, Roy Bish, Greenwood, Nelie Smith) in the Italian championship. Even foreign coaches were and continue to be chosen for the national team, like Bertrande Fourcade and Georges Coste. In 1973, the national team went on a tour of South Africa, coached by ex-Springbok prop Amos Du Plooey. Tours of England and Scotland followed, as well as games against Australia and New Zealand, the masters of their day. In 1978, Italy first played Argentina at Rovigo, winning 19–6.

1986–99

Since the mid 1980s, the Italian national side had been pursuing the ambition of playing in an expanded Five Nations Championship. Consistently winning against nations that now play in the European Nations Cup (Romania, Spain, Georgia, etc.), and good results against the major nations such as France, Scotland, Wales and Ireland meant that they were often talked as strong candidates.[5]

In 1986, Italy hosted an England XV squad in Rome, drawing 15–15. The Azzurri took part in the first-ever Rugby World Cup match against New Zealand on 22 May 1987. The match proved a one-sided affair with New Zealand convincing 70–6 winners against a young Italian side. John Kirwan, later to become the Italian national coach, scored one of the tournament's greatest-ever tries for the All Blacks. Italy beat Fiji but lost to Argentina and finished third in their pool, failing to make the finals. In 1988, they played Ireland for the first time.

At the 1991 World Cup, Italy were grouped in a tough pool with the likes of England and the All Blacks. They lost both of these games but beat the USA. Italy first played Wales in 1994. At the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, Italy came close to beating England; losing 20–27, but recovered to beat Argentina. They finished third in their pool again below England and Western Samoa, but above the Argentines.

The late 1990s saw the Italians build a formidable side and record Test victories over Five Nations opposition. In 1996, a deal between British Sky Broadcasting and the Rugby Football Union meant that England home games were exclusively shown on Sky. England were threatened with being expelled from the Five Nations to be replaced by Italy. This threat was never carried out as a deal was worked out.

In 1996, Italy toured England, Wales and for the first time Scotland, losing all matches. The team recorded two consecutive victories over Ireland in 1997; 37–29 on 4 January, at Lansdowne Road, and 37–22 on 20 December, in Bologna.[6] On 22 March 1997 they recorded their first win over France, 40–32, (in Grenoble). In January 1998, Scotland were the victims with Italy winning 25–21 (in Treviso); in the same year in the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers, they narrowly lost 15–23 against England at Huddersfield, but they argued for a try by Alessandro Troncon disallowed by the referee.[7]

At the 1999 World Cup, Italy were drawn with New Zealand for the third time and lost again. They did not win a single pool match and went home before the knock-out stage.[8]

Six Nations era: 2000–present

Italy finally joined the Six Nations Championship in 2000 but their admission coincided with the departure of some of their best players. Nevertheless, they won their opening game against the reigning champions Scotland 34–20. Thereafter they struggled to compete against the other nations and their participation was called into question. The 2001 and 2002 tournaments were particularly disappointing as they did not win a single game. Coach Brad Johnstone was sacked in 2002 after an alleged show of 'player power'.

John Kirwan was then appointed coach. Italy won two pool games at the 2003 World Cup, defeating both Canada and Tonga, but lost to the All Blacks and Wales. They managed to win their second Six Nations game in 2003, a 30–22 victory over Wales, thus avoiding the wooden spoon. They followed up by winning two games at the World Cup, another first, though the tournament was ultimately disappointing as the Welsh gained revenge with a 27–15 success that meant that Italy were the only Six Nations country not to advance to the knock-out stage. Their third win came against Scotland in 2004.

Italy, along with other nations, had made good use of IRB rules which allowed them to select foreign-born players if they had Italian ancestry or had lived in Italy for a qualifying period of three years. From 2004 they announced that they would only pick three such 'non-Italians' per team in order to develop their own domestic players.

In the 2005 Six Nations Italy finished bottom of the table again and failed to win a single game. Kirwan was sacked and replaced with Pierre Berbizier. Italy then went on a tour of Argentina where they surprised many by beating the Pumas 30–29 and drawing the series 1–1 (the only 2005 victory of a Northern Hemisphere team visiting a Southern Hemisphere team). However, the Pumas had their revenge when they visited Genoa and beat Italy 39–22.

In the 2006 Six Nations Championship the Italian team performed strongly against every team, leading against both England and France in the first half, but lost their first three games. They did, however, get a creditable 18–18 draw away to Wales, their first away point in the tournament, and were unlucky not to draw with Scotland in Rome in the final game, losing 10–13 courtesy of a late Scottish penalty. In the 2007 Six Nations Championship, Italy started poorly, losing to France 3–39. However, Italy's performance improved, and they held England to a 20–7 result at Twickenham. Italy followed with a stunning start to their match at Murrayfield against Scotland, scoring three quick tries to give Italy a 21–0 lead after seven minutes, and the Azzurri went on to a 37–17 victory; their first-ever away win in the Six Nations. Italy's next match was against Wales in Rome, with Italy winning 23–20, for their first consecutive victories in the competition and help them achieve their highest-ever position in the competition. The domestic interest in rugby reached new heights with Italy's new success front page media coverage and the sport being held up as a model of fair play.[9] Media and public interest in the national team was very high during the side's newfound success,[9] despite losing their last game to Ireland. 10,000 fans later greeted the national team at Rome's Piazza del Popolo.[9]

The 2008 Six Nations Championship saw the Italians again finish in last place, albeit by only a three-point margin. They took part in close matches against Ireland, Wales England and France respectively and managed a sole victory, defeating Scotland 23–20 in Rome in the last round of matches.[10] In the summer tests they lost to South Africa but again managed to surprise 3rd ranked Argentina with a 13–12 victory. At the 2008 end of year tour Italy pushed the Wallabies in their clash in Padova, but the Australians eventually went on to win 30–20. A week later the Italians were defeated by Argentina, 14–22.

Italy's 2009 Six Nations campaign was ill-fated almost from the beginning, with both scrum-halves ruled out of the competition before a ball was kicked, and a third alternative ruled out of the opener at England due to injury. Head coach Nick Mallett tried flanker Mauro Bergamasco at scrum-half. Mallett's gamble failed in epic fashion, with Bergamasco's mistakes leading to three England tries before he was replaced at half-time; England went on to win 36–11.[11] In week two Italy also put in a poor performance against Ireland losing 9–38.[12] The two poor performances were followed by another loss to Scotland. The Azzurri were competitive in their 15–20 loss at the Flaminio to a Wales side resting many of its key players for the championship decider against Ireland the next week.[13] Italy finished in last place for the second straight year after losing to France on the final weekend of the tournament.

In the 2010 Six Nations Championship, Italy were well beaten by Ireland 11–29 before narrowly losing to England and defeating Scotland.[14][15] Italy were defeated in their last two matches against France and Wales.[16]

Italy finished the 2011 Six Nations with a 1–4 record. In the opening match of the 2011 Six Nations, Italy was beaten by Ireland 11–13 at home, with Ireland scoring a drop goal less than two minutes before the final whistle. The Azzurri claimed a 22–21 home victory over the reigning Six Nations champions, France, gaining Italy's first win over France in a Six Nations game.[17] At the final whistle, the English language commentator declared it the greatest win in Italian rugby history thus far.

Italy finished the 2012 Six Nations in fifth place with a 1–4 record, following a 13–6 win over Scotland before over 72,000 fans at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Italy's 15–19 loss to England was their smallest margin of defeat.[18] The championship also saw Italy lose to Wales, Ireland and France.[19]

Italy played three matches in the 2012 November internationals, losing two and winning one. The Italians lost to New Zealand and Australia 19–22, with Italian fly half Luciano Orquera missing a penalty in the last minute which would have secured Italy's first draw against Australia.[20] Italy did manage a win in the series, beating Tonga 28–23.[21]

Italy gained their second Six Nations win over France when they beat them 23–18 on their opening match of the 2013 Six Nations Championship.[22] Three defeats by Scotland, Wales and England followed.[23] On their final game of the championship Italy won against Ireland 22–15 for the first time in a Six Nations match in front of 75,000 fans at the Stadio Olimpico.[24][25] Overall Italy finished fourth,[26] behind Scotland in third on points difference, to make it one of their most successful Six Nations.[27] In November 2013, Italy hosted Australia at Turin for a 20–50 loss, then defeated Fiji 37–31 at Cremona and was defeated by Argentina 14–19 at Rome.

Italy were whitewashed at the 2014 Six Nations Championship, including a 20–21 home loss to Scotland, a 7–46 loss to Ireland and an 11–52 loss to England. In June the team made an Asia-Pacific tour, where they were defeated by Fiji, Japan and Samoa. In November they scored a home win to Samoa, a two-point loss to Argentina and another loss to South Africa.

In the 2015 Six Nations Championship, Italy took a 22–19 away win over Scotland to avoid the wooden spoon, but suffered heavy home losses to France and Wales. The victory against Scotland was their last win in the Six Nations, and they lost all games in the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 tournaments, a losing run of 22 games. At the 2015 Rugby World Cup, they defeated Romania and Canada but lost to Ireland and France, repeating their performance of the previous three editions.

After another poor performance in 2016, losing all their Six Nations matches, Italy hired former Ireland international and Harlequin F.C. coach Conor O'Shea to coach the team; with him they also hired IRFU developmental director Stephen Aboud to direct youth programs aimed at strengthening the level of rugby in the country.[28] In June, the Italian team lost to Argentina and won over the United States and Canada. On 19 November, Italy achieved a famous upset victory by defeating South Africa 20–18 which was Italy's first win against the Springboks in 13 attempts at Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence.[29] This victory also marked their first win over one of the three big Southern Hemisphere nations (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa).

Wins against Tier 1 nations

Date Home Score Away Place
24 October 1978  Italy 19–6  Argentina Stadio Mario Battaglini, Rovigo
6 May 1995  Italy 22–12  Ireland Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso
4 June 1995  Argentina 25–31  Italy Buffalo City Stadium, East London, South Africa
4 January 1997  Ireland 29–37  Italy Lansdowne Road, Dublin
22 March 1997  France 32–40  Italy Stade Lesdiguières, Grenoble
20 December 1997  Italy 37–22  Ireland Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna
24 January 1998  Italy 25–21  Scotland Stadio Comunale Monigo, Treviso
7 November 1998  Italy 23–19  Argentina Stadio Comunale Beltrametti, Piacenza
5 February 2000  Italy 34–20  Scotland Stadio Flaminio, Rome
15 February 2003  Italy 30–22  Wales Stadio Flaminio, Rome
6 March 2004  Italy 20–14  Scotland Stadio Flaminio, Rome
11 June 2005  Argentina 29–30  Italy Estadio Olímpico, Córdoba
24 February 2007  Scotland 17–37  Italy Murrayfield, Edinburgh
10 March 2007  Italy 23–20  Wales Stadio Flaminio, Rome
15 March 2008  Italy 23–20  Scotland Stadio Flaminio, Rome
28 June 2008  Argentina 12–13  Italy Estadio Olímpico, Córdoba
27 February 2010  Italy 16–12  Scotland Stadio Flaminio, Rome
12 March 2011  Italy 22–21  France Stadio Flaminio, Rome
17 March 2012  Italy 13–6  Scotland Stadio Olimpico, Rome
3 February 2013  Italy 23–18  France Stadio Olimpico, Rome
16 March 2013  Italy 22–15  Ireland Stadio Olimpico, Rome
28 February 2015  Scotland 19–22  Italy Murrayfield, Edinburgh
19 November 2016  Italy 20–18  South Africa Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence

[30][31][32][33][34][35]

Stadium and attendance

Before joining the Six Nations in 2000 Italy did not have a set stadium and played their home matches in various stadiums around Italy. From 2000–2011 Italy played all of their home Six Nations matches at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome. The Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) announced, in January 2010, that the stadium would undergo an expansion, that will increase its capacity to 42,000.[36] Continued delays to the start of construction meant that the revamp could not be completed in time for the 2012 Six Nations so all of Italy's home Six Nations games were moved to the Stadio Olimpico, also in Rome.[37] The expansion of the Stadio Flaminio was originally promised to be complete by 2014. It was planned that upon completion of the renovation, the Italian team will move back to the Stadio Flaminio,[38] however little was achieved and as of September 2016 the stadium was still in a state of abandoned disrepair.[39] More Italians are coming to watch rugby union games and whereas before most of the fans at the Stadio Flaminio were away fans, now Italy has a good home crowd. Since moving to the Stadio Olimpico attendances have increased by huge numbers.[40] The Italian team has drawn large crowds since 2008, particularly for Six Nations matches and for matches against New Zealand:

Highest attended home matches
RankAttendanceOpponentDateVenue
180,074New Zealand14 Nov 2009San Siro (Milan)
280,054Ireland16 Mar 2013Stadio Olimpico (Rome)
373,526Wales23 Feb 2013Stadio Olimpico (Rome)
473,000New Zealand17 Nov 2012Stadio Olimpico (Rome)
572,354Scotland17 Mar 2012Stadio Olimpico (Rome)
671,257England15 March 2014Stadio Olimpico (Rome)
770,000England14 February 2016Stadio Olimpico (Rome)
867,721Scotland27 February 2016Stadio Olimpico (Rome)
967,529France3 Feb 2013Stadio Olimpico (Rome)
1067,127France15 March 2015Stadio Olimpico (Rome)

Strip

Italy play in blue jerseys.

Period Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor
1981–1989 Adidas None
1990–1993 Lotto[41]
1991 Rugby World Cup
1993–1995 Gilbert[42]
1995 Rugby World Cup
1996–1997 Reebok
1997 European Nations Cup
1998–1999 None
1999 Cotton Oxford
2000 Six Nations – 2000 mid-year internationals Canterbury Alliance UniChem
2000 end-of-year internationals – 2002 mid-year internationals Kappa
2002 end-of-year internationals – 2006 end-of-year internationals Jaguar
2007 Six Nations championship – 2012 mid-year internationals Cariparma
2012 end-of-year internationals – 2017 mid-year internationals Adidas
2017 end-of-year internationals – 2018 mid-year internationals Macron
2018 end-of-year internationals – Cattolica Assicurazioni

Awards

CompetitionTotal
Olympic Games 0000
Rugby World Cup 0000
European Nations Cup 19818
Total19818

Record

Top 30 rankings as of 25 November 2019[43]
RankChange*TeamPoints
1  South Africa094.19
2  New Zealand092.11
3  England088.82
4  Wales085.02
5  Ireland084.45
6  Australia081.90
7  France080.88
8  Japan079.28
9  Scotland079.23
10  Argentina078.31
11  Fiji076.21
12  Italy072.04
13  Tonga071.44
14  Georgia071.26
15  Samoa070.72
16  Spain068.15
17  United States068.10
18  Uruguay067.41
19  Romania066.69
20  Russia063.09
21  Hong Kong061.25
22  Canada061.12
23  Namibia061.01
24  Portugal061.01
25  Netherlands060.08
26  Brazil058.89
27  Belgium055.74
28  Germany054.64
29  Chile053.83
30  South Korea053.11
*Change from the previous week
Italy's historical rankings
Source: World Rugby - Graph updated to 18 November 2019[43]

Overall

Below is table of the representative rugby matches played by an Italy national XV at test level up until 24 September 2019.[44]

Opponent Played Won Lost Drawn Win % For Aga Diff
 Argentina22516122.73%383557−174
 Australia1801800.00%251631−380
 Australia XV20200.00%3675−39
 Belgium2200100.00%750+75
 Border Bulldogs10100.00%1225−13
 Bulgaria1100100.00%170+17
 Canada972077.78%246128+118
Catalonia210150%108+2
 Cook Islands10100.00%615−9
 Croatia1100100.00%7611+65
 Czech Republic1100100.00%1048+96
 Czechoslovakia12101183.33%26662+204
 England2602600.00%3191058−739
 England XV10010.00%1515+0
England B10100.00%921−12
England U23311133.33%3142−11
 Fiji1266050.00%282275+7
 France4233907.14%4811270−789
 France XV3012813.33%289751−462
France Espoirs10100.00%1821−3
 Georgia2200100.00%5939+20
 Germany624033.33%2754−27
 Ireland31427012.90%4681074−606
 Japan862075.00%241146+95
 Leopards321066.66%5546+9
 Madagascar2200100.00%2615+11
 Middlesex10100.00%1228−16
 Morocco862075.00%18452+132
 Golden Lions10100.00%2428−4
 Namibia422050.00%12296+26
  Sharks10100.00%323−20
 Netherlands4400100.00%17827+151
 New Zealand1401400.00%131820−689
 New Zealand XV10100.00%1218−6
 Junior All Blacks10100.00%1330−17
 North-Eastern Cape10100.00%1231−19
 Northern Free State10100.00%1112−1
 Oxfordshire10100.00%630−24
 Pacific Islanders10100.00%1725−8
 Poland761085.71%16549+116
 Portugal12101183.33%33371+262
 Romania422316354.76%609634−25
 Russia5500100.00%28376+207
 Samoa725028.57%109175−66
 Scotland30822026.66%515749−234
 Scotland A312033.33%5155−4
 Serbia and Montenegro3300100.00%6022+38
 South Africa1411307.14%171652−481
 Soviet Union1449128.57%171165+6
 Spain27233185.19%581187+394
 Steval Pumas10100.00%1239−27
 Sussex10100.00%716−9
 Tonga532060.00%15482+72
 Tunisia3300100.00%6019+41
 United States5500100.00%15474+80
 Uruguay3300100.00%9225+67
 Wales2722419.25%436912−476
 West Germany14130192.86%22669+157
 Zimbabwe3300100.00%7025+45
Total5041863041436.90%878611633-2877

Six Nations

Italy entered the International Championship in 2000 when it became the Six Nations, and made a positive start by winning their debut match 34–20 against Scotland. They finished fifth in 2003 above Wales in the final standings, having defeated them 30–22, and were again fifth the following year above Scotland, after beating them 20–14. In 2006, Italy drew with Wales 18–18 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Italy's first three Six Nations match victories, in 2000, 2003, and 2004, had been in front of a home crowd at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome. However, on 24 February 2007, they defeated Scotland 37–17 at Murrayfield for their first away win in the competition. Two weeks later, they defeated Wales for the second time, 23–20 back in Rome. This was the first time that Italy had won two of their five games in the championship, and they finished the 2007 Six Nations Championship in fourth place.

Italy won the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy for the first time in 2011 with a close-fought 22–21 victory over France. Two years later, they lifted the trophy for a second time by defeating France 23–18. Italy also recorded a first Six Nations victory over Ireland in 2013, beating them 22–15, and equalling their best finish of fourth place in the final standings. On 28 February 2015, Italy achieved their second away win against Scotland, a tight 22–21 victory, but they have not won a game in the tournament since that date.

As of March 2019, Italy have won twelve Six Nations matches, seven of these against Scotland, two against both France and Wales, and one against Ireland. England is the only team that Italy have yet to beat in the championship.

Year Position W D L PF PA PD  FRA  ENG  IRL  WAL  SCO
2000 6th104106228−122 LLLLW
2001 6th005106207−101 LLLLL
2002 6th00570183−113 LLLLL
2003 5th104100185−85 LLLWL
2004 5th10442152−110 LLLLW
2005 6th00555179−124 LLLLL
2006 6th01472125−53 LLLDL
2007 4th20394147−53 LLLWW
2008 6th10474131−57 LLLLW
2009 6th00549170−121 LLLLL
2010 6th10469137−68 LLLLW
2011 6th10470138−68 WLLLL
2012 5th10453121−68 LLLLW
2013 4th20375111−36 WLWLL
2014 6th00563172−109 LLLLL
2015 5th10462182−120 LLLLW
2016 6th00579224−145 LLLLL
2017 6th00550201−151 LLLLL
2018 6th00592203−111 LLLLL
2019 6th00579167−88 LLLLL
Overall1218514013229−1828 2–0–180–0–201–0–192–1–177–0–13
 
England

France

Ireland

Italy

Scotland

Wales
Tournaments1228812419124124
Outright wins (shared wins)
Home Nations5 (4)N/A4 (4)N/A10 (3)7 (4)
Five Nations17 (6)12 (8)6 (5)N/A5 (6)15 (8)
Six Nations654005
Overall28 (10)17 (8)14 (9)0 (0)15 (9)27 (12)
Grand Slams
Home Nations0N/A0N/A02
Five Nations1161N/A36
Six Nations232004
Overall13930312
Triple Crowns
Home Nations5N/A2N/A76
Five Nations16N/A4N/A311
Six Nations4N/A5N/A04
Overall25N/A11N/A1021
Wooden Spoons
Home Nations11N/A15N/A88
Five Nations141721N/A2112
Six Nations0101441
Overall251836143321

Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup Qualification
Year Round Pld W D L PF PA Squad Pos Pld W D L PF PA
1987 Pool Stage 3 1 0 2 40 110 Squad Invited
1991 Pool Stage 3 1 0 2 57 76 Squad 1st 3 3 0 0 83 38
1995 Pool Stage 3 1 0 2 69 94 Squad 2nd 4 3 0 1 210 52
1999 Pool Stage 3 0 0 3 35 196 Squad 2nd 6 5 0 1 302 92
2003 Pool Stage 4 2 0 2 77 123 Squad 1st 2 2 0 0 75 20
2007 Pool Stage 4 2 0 2 85 117 Squad 1st 2 2 0 0 150 7
2011 Pool Stage 4 2 0 2 92 95 Squad Automatically qualified
2015 Pool Stage 4 2 0 2 74 88 Squad Automatically qualified
2019 Pool Stage 3 2 0 1 98 78 Squad Automatically qualified
2023 Automatically qualified
Total Pool Stage 31 13 0 18 627 977 17 15 0 2 820 209
     Champions       Runners-up       Third place       Fourth place Home venue

Italy have competed at every Rugby World Cup since the competition's inception in 1987. Italy finished third in their pool at their first World Cup, defeating Fiji, but not making the finals. They did not make the finals in 1991, grouped in a tough pool with England and the All Blacks. At the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, they finished behind England and Western Samoa, but above Argentina in their pool.

In 1999 they did not make the finals, with their defeats by the All Blacks and Tonga. Italy won two pool games at the 2003 World Cup, defeating both Canada and Tonga, but lost to the All Blacks and Wales. Italy played the 2007 Rugby World Cup in Pool C, against New Zealand, Scotland, Romania and Portugal (who had been beaten 83–0 by Italy in the qualifiers), with the goal of reaching the quarter finals for the first time. However, in the crucial group match against Scotland, Italy were undone by indiscipline. Chris Paterson kicked all of Scotland's points in an 18–16 victory, despite Italy crossing the line for the game's only try.

European championships

Before 2000, Italy was one of the leading European teams outside the Five Nations, along with Romania, and for a while the USSR.

Italy competed in the original European Championships from 1936–38, but World War II meant that the tournament would not resume until 1952. Italy then competed in these tournaments from 1952–2000. Italy achieved only one the victory in 1995–97 FIRA Trophy.

TeamFirst placeSecond placeThird place
 Italy198

Thirties wins

Year Host city Winner Second place Third place
1936 Berlin
France

Germany

Italy
1937 Paris
France

Italy

Germany

The fifties: the European Cup, Italian positions

Year Winner Second place Third place
1952
France

Italy

West Germany
1954
France

Italy

Spain

The Nations Cup 1966–73

Year Winner Second place Third place
1965/1966
France

Italy

Romania
1966/1967
France

Romania

Italy
1969/1970
France

Romania

Italy

The FIRA Trophy 1974–97

Year Winner Second place Third place
1974/1975
Romania

France

Italy
1975/1976
France

Italy

Romania
1976/1977
Romania

France

Italy
1979/1980
France

Romania

Italy
1981/1982
France

Italy

Romania
1982/1983
Romania

Italy

Soviet Union
1983/1984
France

Romania

Italy
1984/1985
France

Soviet Union

Italy
1990/1992
France

Italy

Romania
1992/1994
France

Italy

Romania
1995/1997
Italy

France

Romania

Players and coaches

Current squad

On 18 August 2019, Italy named their 31-man squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.[45]

On 5 October, Danilo Fischetti and Giosuè Zilocchi replaced Simone Ferrari and Marco Riccioni.[46]

Head Coach: Franco Smith (interim)

  • Caps updated: 4 October 2019
Player Position Date of birth (age) Caps Club/province
Luca Bigi Hooker (1991-04-19) 19 April 1991 24 Zebre
Oliviero Fabiani Hooker (1990-07-03) 3 July 1990 10 Zebre
Leonardo Ghiraldini Hooker (1984-12-26) 26 December 1984 104 Unattached
Simone Ferrari Prop (1994-03-28) 28 March 1994 29 Benetton
Danilo Fischetti Prop (1998-01-26) 26 January 1998 0 Zebre
Andrea Lovotti Prop (1989-07-28) 28 July 1989 41 Zebre
Tiziano Pasquali Prop (1994-07-14) 14 July 1994 21 Benetton
Nicola Quaglio Prop (1991-03-09) 9 March 1991 13 Benetton
Marco Riccioni Prop (1997-10-19) 19 October 1997 7 Benetton
Federico Zani Prop (1989-04-09) 9 April 1989 13 Benetton
Giosuè Zilocchi Prop (1997-01-15) 15 January 1997 2 Zebre
Dean Budd Lock (1986-07-31) 31 July 1986 26 Benetton
Federico Ruzza Lock (1994-08-04) 4 August 1994 18 Benetton
Dave Sisi Lock (1993-02-05) 5 February 1993 9 Zebre
Alessandro Zanni Lock (1984-01-31) 31 January 1984 117 Benetton
Maxime Mbanda Back row (1993-04-10) 10 April 1993 20 Zebre
Sebastian Negri Back row (1994-06-30) 30 June 1994 22 Benetton
Sergio Parisse (c) Back row (1983-09-12) 12 September 1983 142 RC Toulonnais
Jake Polledri Back row (1995-11-08) 8 November 1995 13 Gloucester
Braam Steyn Back row (1992-05-02) 2 May 1992 36 Benetton
Callum Braley Scrum-half (1994-03-20) 20 March 1994 5 Gloucester
Guglielmo Palazzani Scrum-half (1991-04-11) 11 April 1991 36 Zebre
Tito Tebaldi Scrum-half (1987-09-23) 23 September 1987 36 Benetton
Tommaso Allan Fly-half (1993-04-26) 26 April 1993 54 Benetton
Carlo Canna Fly-half (1992-08-25) 25 August 1992 39 Zebre
Tommaso Benvenuti Centre (1990-12-12) 12 December 1990 62 Benetton
Michele Campagnaro Centre (1993-03-13) 13 March 1993 46 Harlequins
Luca Morisi Centre (1991-02-22) 22 February 1991 29 Benetton
Mattia Bellini Wing (1994-02-08) 8 February 1994 22 Zebre
Giulio Bisegni Wing (1992-04-04) 4 April 1992 14 Zebre
Matteo Minozzi Wing (1996-06-04) 4 June 1996 16 Wasps
Jayden Hayward Fullback (1987-02-11) 11 February 1987 23 Benetton
Edoardo Padovani Fullback (1993-05-15) 15 May 1993 24 Zebre

Recent call-up not selected

Player Position Date of birth (age) Caps Club/province
Engjel Makelara Hooker (1996-08-22) 22 August 1996 0 Benetton
Cherif Traorè Prop (1994-04-10) 10 April 1994 10 Benetton
Marco Fuser Lock (1991-03-09) 9 March 1991 33 Benetton
Marco Lazzaroni Lock (1995-05-18) 18 May 1995 4 Benetton
Renato Giammarioli Back row (1995-03-23) 23 March 1995 4 Zebre
Giovanni Licata Back row (1997-02-18) 18 February 1997 8 Zebre
Jimmy Tuivaiti Back row (1988-01-02) 2 January 1988 5 Zebre
Marcello Violi Scrum-half (1993-10-11) 11 October 1993 15 Zebre
Ian McKinley Fly-half (1989-12-04) 4 December 1989 9 Benetton
Tommaso Castello Centre (1991-01-14) 14 January 1991 20 Zebre
Marco Zanon Centre (1997-10-03) 3 October 1997 1 Benetton
Angelo Esposito Wing (1993-06-14) 14 June 1993 21 Benetton

Coaches

Name From To P W D L % W/P
 Arnaldo Cortese
 John Thomas
20 May 1929 1 0 0 1 0
 Arturo Cameroni
 Luigi Bricchi
29 May 1930 1 1 0 0 100
 Luigi Bricchi 1 November 1932 26 December 1934 4 3 0 1 75
 Luigi Bricchi
 Julien Saby
26 December 1934 7 April 1935 1 1 0 0 100
 Julien Saby 7 April 1935 14 May 1936 2 0 0 2 0
 Luigi Bricchi
 Michel Boucheron
14 May 1936 16 May 1936 2 1 0 1 50
 Luigi Bricchi
 Julien Saby
1 January 1937 17 October 1937 5 2 1 2 40
 Luigi Bricchi 6 March 1938 20 November 1938 1 0 0 1 0
 Luigi Bricchi
 Giuseppe Sessa
20 November 1938 19 March 1940 2 1 0 1 50
 Romano Bonifazi 19 March 1940 9 February 1941 2 1 0 1 50
 Luigi Bricchi
 Franco Chiaserotti
9 February 1941 2 May 1942
 Luigi Bricchi
 Franco Chiaserotti
2 May 1942 1 1 0 0 100
 Tommaso Fattori 18 May 1947 27 March 1949 2 1 0 1 50
 Giorgio Briasco
 Antonio Radicini
27 March 1949 26 February 1950 2 0 0 2 0
 Romano Bonifazi 26 February 1950 29 July 1950
 Francesco Vinci 29 July 1950 4 October 1950
 Renzo Maffioli 4 October 1950 25 February 1951
 Renzo Maffioli
 Julien Saby
25 February 1951 1 August 1954 9 6 0 3 66.7
 Piermarcello Farinelli
 Aldo Invernici
 Umberto Silvestri
1 August 1954 22 December 1956 8 5 0 3 62.5
 Giulio Fereoli
 Aldo Invernici
 Umberto Silvestri
22 December 1956 8 December 1957 2 1 0 1 50
 Sergio Barilari
 Aldo Invernici
 Umberto Silvestri
8 December 1957 19 July 1958 1 0 0 1 0
 Sergio Barilari
 Mario Battaglini
 Aldo Invernici
19 July 1958 10 April 1960 2 1 0 1 50
 Sergio Barilari
 Romano Bonifazi
10 April 1960 22 April 1962 4 2 0 2 50
 Aldo Invernici 22 April 1962 8 December 1965 7 2 0 5 28.5
 Sergio Barilari
 Mario Martone
8 December 1965 28 October 1967 7 3 1 3 42.8
 Aldo Invernici 28 October 1967 24 May 1970 8 7 0 1 87.5
 Giordano Campice 24 May 1970 25 October 1970 2 2 0 0 100
 Sergio Barilari 25 October 1970 10 April 1971 3 0 0 3 0
 Guglielmo Geremia 11 April 1971 27 May 1971 1 0 0 1 0
 Aldo Invernici 28 May 1971 19 February 1972
 Umberto Levorato 20 February 1972 25 November 1972 4 1 2 1 25
 Gianni Villa 26 November 1972 14 February 1975 20 6 1 13 30
 Roy Bish 15 February 1975 1º April 1977 15 8 1 6 53.3
 Isidoro Quaglio 2 April 1977 1º May 1977 2 1 0 1 50
 Gwyn Evans 23 October 1977 23 October 1978 5 1 1 3 20
 Pierre Villepreux 24 October 1978 24 October 1981 24 10 1 13 41.6
 Paolo Paladini
 Marco Pulli
25 October 1981 9 November 1985 28 16 2 10 57.14
 Marco Bollesan 10 November 1985 4 November 1988 19 7 1 11 36.8
 Loreto Cucchiarelli 5 November 1988 29 September 1989 7 1 0 6 14.3
 Loreto Cucchiarelli
 Bertrand Fourcade
29 September 1989 31 December 1989 2 1 0 1 50
 Bertrand Fourcade 1 January 1990 30 August 1993 27 16 0 11 59.3
 Georges Coste 31 August 1993 19 June 1999 48 19 1 28 39.6
 Massimo Mascioletti 20 June 1999 19 November 1999 5 2 0 3 40
 Brad Johnstone 20 November 1999 26 April 2002 27 5 0 22 18.5
 John Kirwan 27 April 2002 18 April 2005 32 10 0 22 31.3
 Pierre Berbizier 19 April 2005 30 September 2007 30 12 1 17 40
 Nick Mallett 3 October 2007 30 October 2011 42 9 0 33 21.4
 Jacques Brunel 1 November 2011 31 May 2016 50 11 0 39 22.0
 Conor O'Shea 1 June 2016 17 November 2019 26 6 0 19 23.08
 Franco Smith (interim) 21 November 2019

Player records (career)

Most caps

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Pts Tries Won Lost Draw %
1Sergio ParisseNumber 82002–20191421393831635106125.00
2Martin CastrogiovanniProp2002–2016119912860123088125.63
3Alessandro ZanniFlanker2005–201911791262043185126.92
4Marco BortolamiLock2001–201511292203572982126.33
5Mauro BergamascoFlanker1998–2015106901675153076028.30
6Leonardo GhiraldiniHooker2006–201910484202552084019.23
7Andrea Lo CiceroProp2000–201310379244083270131.55
8Alessandro TronconScrum-half1994–200710194795193367133.16
9Andrea MasiFullback2000–201595821365132372024.21
10Mirco BergamascoWing2002–201289827256172266125.28
Luke McLeanFullback2008–20178975147471871020.22

Last updated: South Africa vs Italy, 4 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.[47]

Most tries

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop
1Marcello CuttittaWing1987–19995454011025000
2Paolo VaccariWing1991–20036463110722000
3Carlo ChecchinatoNumber 81990–200483731010521000
Manrico MarchettoWing1972–1981433948421000
5Alessandro TronconScrum-half1994–20071019479519000
6Mirco BergamascoWing2002–2012898272561712490
Serafino GhizzoniWing1977–1987605917717003
Massimo MasciolettiWing1977–1990545406817000
9Ivan FrancescatoCentre1990–1997383807716000
Sergio ParisseNumber 82002–14213938316001

Last updated: South Africa vs Italy, 4 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most points

# Player Pos Span Mat Start Sub Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop
1Diego DomínguezFly-half1991–200374731983912720820
2Stefano BettarelloFly-half1979–19885554148374610417
3Tommaso AllanFly-half2013–5439153131151511
4Luigi TroianiFullback1985–199547470294257570
5Ramiro PezFly-half2000–200740337260433526
6Mirco BergamascoWing2002–2012898272561712490
7Luciano OrqueraFly-half2004–2015482721154320312
8David BortolussiFullback2006–200816151153135251
9Carlo CannaFly-half2015–391722147420263
10Ennio PonziFly-half1973–197720200133017312

Last updated: South Africa vs Italy, 4 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only. [47]

Most matches as captain

# Player Pos Span Mat Won Lost Draw % Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop
1Sergio ParisseNumber 82008–2019931875019.356813001
2Marco BortolamiLock2002–2014391424137.17357000
3Marco BollesanNumber 81968–1975371520243.24216000
Massimo GiovanelliFlanker1992–1999371422139.18153000
5Massimo CuttittaProp1993–1999221012045.45153000
6Alessandro TronconScrum-half2000–200721714033.33255000
7Marzio InnocentiFlanker1985–198820712137.5082000
8Alessandro MoscardiHooker2000–200219415021.0551000
9Ambrogio BonaProp1978–19811899050.0041000
10Leonardo GhiraldiniHooker2008–201917512029.4151000

Last updated: South Africa vs Italy, 4 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Player records (single match)

Most points in a match

# Player Pos Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Opposition Venue Date
1.Stefano BettarelloFly-half291252 Canada Toronto1 July 1982
Diego DomínguezFly-half290163 Scotland Rome5 February 2000
Diego DomínguezFly-half290470 Fiji Treviso10 November 2001
4.Diego DomínguezFly-half281730 Netherlands Calvisano21 May 1994
5.Diego DomínguezFly-half271260 Ireland Bologna20 December 1997
6.Diego DomínguezFly-half250550 Romania Tarbes26 October 1997
7.Luigi TroianiFly-half2401200 Czech Republic Viadana18 May 1994
Diego DomínguezFly-half240080 Romania Catania1 October 1994
Mirco BergamascoWing240080 Fiji Modena27 November 2010
10.3 players on 23 points

Last updated: South Africa vs Italy, 4 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

Most tries in a match

# Player Pos Pts Tries Conv Pens Drop Opposition Venue Date
1.Renzo CovaWing124000 Belgium Paris10 October 1937
Ivan FrancescatoCentre204000 Morocco Carcassonne19 June 1993
3.15 players on 3 tries

Last updated: South Africa vs Italy, 4 October 2019. Statistics include officially capped matches only.

See also

References

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