SINCE joining the Six Nations in 2000, Italy have chalked up seven wins. Five of those have come against Scotland, so you can imagine the importance they attach to the final game of this championship.
Those five wins include a 37-17 away rout of the Scots in 2007, but in the past 18 months Scotland have beaten South Africa and Australia, and won a series in Argentina.
“Scotland are a proud country, with physical players, but they’re not afraid to be daring, sometimes even from deep in their own half,” says Italy captain Sergio Parisse. “They don’t have the superstars of the English or French teams, but they give 100% for the whole 80 minutes, and Sean Lamont sums up for me their very own spirit, always trying to go forward whenever he gets his hands on the ball. We must try to match their physicality and get the upper hand in the scrum, which is one of our strongest points.”
“Murrayfield is a great place to play, a beautiful stadium with a lot of atmosphere and tradition, but we must believe in ourselves and just focus on our performance without worrying if it’s going to be a wooden spoon decider or not. Italy-Scotland has always been tight and this year will be no different.”
Can Italy repeat their heroics of 2007? “That won’t happen again, not even if we play every week for 40 years,” laughs Parisse, who dropped a goal in the 2009 fixture. “Three tries in seven minutes and all from interceptions… That was a one-off. The story of Italy v Scotland games is very different, close matches with neither team giving much away. But under Andy Robinson Scotland are trying to play more rugby than before.”
Italy have lost nine out of ten Tests since beating Scotland in 2010. But having run Ireland and Wales close, they know scalping the Scots again is within their compass.
This article appeared in the April 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine. To find a newsagent which sells Rugby World in UK visit http://www.ipcmedia.com/availability/index.php?code=rugby
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