Italians show spark in Six Nations

Jack White
February 16, 2012

France opened on February 7 the Six Nations tournament at home against Italy, who showed why they have the potential to compete against any opposition they meet in the championship. Their dedication to the cause, especially in the first half, combined with a previously unseen composure, saw the Italians pose a serious challenge, and, moreover, their potential for the remainder of the competition.

 

Traditionally, many of the more established sides have tried to expose Italy out wide with rapid back play, but the French set out their stall early in showing no fear of the Italian forwards by fronting up in the tight exchanges as the game opened. Although both sides were hoping to impress new coaches, the calming effect of the revered Jacques Brunel on the Italians was evident in Paris. Brunel has a reputation for bringing lowly teams to dizzying heights and with commitment and support from his players, the results for Italy can be bountiful.

 

The French ended up winning 30-12, but the score was not a fair reflection of Italy's efforts. The handling, the discipline, the focus of the Italians could have all been better, however it was the adventurous nature, the composure and the change in mind-set of the team that was a huge step in the right direction. In attack, they showed patience and will to think and analyze-qualities that previously they would not have displayed.

 

The second weekend of Italy's RBS Six Nations campaign got underway in Rome on February 11 with an anticipated clash against a young English side. Perhaps due to the frosty pitch and freezing temperatures, the game turned out to be of surprisingly low standard, in which Italy had the better of the first half, but lost ground and confidence in the second, eventually losing the game 19-16.

 

The new Italian psyche is not dead, however, and the players, coaches and fans will be hoping to take their newfound belief into play next against an underperforming Irish side on February 25. The timing of Italy and Brunel coming together is perfect: they may not find success immediately, but soon Italy will come good.

 

For more on the Six Nations, see www.rbs6nations.com.

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