Babidee-boobidee! The Italianos! The knights in blue! There’s not a whole lot to dig up on the old Ities, yet they are at the RWC, and thus we must do our best!
Italy has a long history in rugby playing their first international match against Spain in 1929 losing 9-0.
They qualified for the World Cup being ranked a lowly 14th in the World.
Here is the three major things you need to know about Italy’s chances and what they bring to the World Cup.
1. The Pool Play Conundrum
Italy has qualified for every tournament since it started in 1987.
One thing they have never been able to achieve is get out of pool play.
In the last three World Cups they have won just two games and they have found themselves in a situation questioning what could have been if they had just won one more game and qualified for knockout play.
2. Experienced Forward Pack
Italy brings an extremely experienced forward pack to the World Cup including Leonardo Ghiraldini (79 caps), Martin Castrogiovanni (114 caps), Mauro Bergamasco (104 caps) and Sergio Parisse (c) (113 caps).
These players will be key if Italy are to pull off unexpected victories against Ireland or France.
Despite this experience, however, Italy have always struggled to find a good number 10 who can lead the backline well which is been the major problem for them in the last ten years.
Tommaso Allan has been given the job for this tournament, while he is extremely talented he is only 22.
3. Sergio Parisse Factor
Sergio Parisse is arguably Italy’s best player.
Parisse was the first Italian player to be nominated for IRB International Rugby Player of the Year in 2008 and is rated as one of the best number 8s in this World Cup.
Parisse became Italy’s captain in 2008 and since then has lead Italy to their best World Cup performances and has been badly missed when he has been injured or suspended.
Parisse is most well known for his freakish passing ability including a behind the back pass against New Zealand and passing under his legs is a regular occurrence in his game. Parisse is also an extremely talented player with ball in hand and would be a player to watch for this tournament.
Italy has been put in pool D which most notably has the extremely talented Ireland and France.
Italy are expected to be able to pull victories against Canada and Romania but once again, like previous World Cups, will have to find that third victory to get past pool play.
Ireland has just recently won the Six Nations and common sense says that Ireland will be able to win again like they did 26-3 when Ireland and Italy meet in the Six Nations.
During the writing of this article France managed to win convincingly against Italy which puts them in a very insecure position.