Italy will be no walk in the park for England

Italy Rugby

Italy have always been the whipping boys of the Six Nations. Since entering the tournament back in 2000, they have only won 13 games, and are still yet to beat England. However this Sunday is the best chance Italy to change that record.

Italy are a team on the rise, starting with last year’s shock victory over Wales in Cardiff, followed by another fantastic result against the Wallabies in the Autumn.

Youth development

They have developed a great team built on their world class under-20s programme. Players like Ange Capuozzo, Stephen Varney and Michele Lamaro are all examples of players who have come through that system and are excelling at international level. Star fly-half Paulo Garbisi is another example, and has played a big part in the growth of Italian rugby in recent years, but will miss the majority of this Six Nations due to a knee injury.

These young players coming through the system have changed the dynamic of Italian rugby. In previous years, they were reliant on one star player, often in the shape of Sergio Parisse. Now they have a solid core of talented players to rely on.

Style of play

Kieran Crowley has also brought in a great system. In the past Italy have shown heart and bravery but have lacked a solid structure to their game. Crowley has changed that and brought in an attacking shape that utilises their strong carriers, like Negri, to cross the gain line whilst also allowing their exciting backline to have plenty of ball to attack with. This was especially prevalent last week, with dangerous attacks that challenged a solid French defence. England’s defence against Scotland was a big factor in the defeat, and Italy could very easily manipulate this to great success.

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Italy managed the game very well last week against France. Italy took advantage of France’s ill-discipline and kept the scoreboard ticking over, with Tommaso Allan kicking really well. Discipline was a big issue for England last week, and Italy’s desire to turn these penalties into points could really punish England.

What problems might Italy cause?

Italy’s attack could really cause England problems this Sunday. In last week’s loss to France, Italy showed patience on the ball and worked through phases which have been missing from their game in the past.

England have also employed a kicking tactic similar to Leicester last season, and this will play right into Italy’s hands. This will allow Capuozzo plenty of time on the ball and space to run. This will create chances for the Azzurri to strike and bring in. England will need to sure up their defence to neutralize this threat posed by the star fullback.

Italy are no longer a free hit to test out the fringe players in a squad whilst walking to a bonus point win, and they could cause England some real issues this coming Sunday. Could we see an upset?

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