A win for the Azzurri in Rome will catapult them above Wales
Italy can leapfrog Wales in the World Rankings and return to the top ten for the first time in nearly a decade with a win in Rome on Saturday.
Kieran Crowley’s side are bidding to record back-to-back victories over Wales for the first time in their history after finishing last year’s Six Nations with a 21-20 triumph away in Cardiff.
Ange Capuozzo‘s famous run and try-assist for Edoardo Padovani, allowed fly-half Paolo Garbisi the easiest of conversions to seal a shock triumph that snapped Italy’s 36-game losing streak in the championship that stretched all the way back to 2015.
While that result came out of the blue, many have Italy down as favourites this time around after showing plenty of signs of promise in the opening three rounds despite losing to France, England and Ireland.
Read more: Are Italy favourites to beat Wales?
Currently sitting 13th in the world, if Italy can record only their fourth ever win over Wales then Crowley’s side will fly into tenth. And Wales could drop as low as 13th in return, depending on the margin of defeat. Regardless, however, a victory for the home side at the Stadio Olimpico will ensure Italy finish the day as the higher ranked side.
Have Italy been above Wales in the World Rankings before?
However, it’s not the first time Italy have ranked higher in World Rugby’s standings.
Twice on previous occasions, The Azzurri have been higher than Wales. Twice in 2007, for one week in March and two weeks in August, and once in 2013 on the first weekend of February after Wales lost to Ireland and Italy beat France.
Read more: Italy team to face Wales
Wales are guaranteed to drop out of the top ten with defeat but a victory for Warren Gatland’s struggling side would take them above Japan into ninth.
If Italy don’t get the job done in Rome, they will fall to 14th, dropping behind Fiji on the list of the game’s best international sides.
Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.
Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.