Italy enter the championship having beaten Wales in their last Six Nations outing


Italy coach Kieran Crowley claimed international rugby has become boring and hinted at a new more exciting era for Italian rugby ahead of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations.

Crowley finished his first championship in charge of the Azzurri last year by beating Wales in Cardiff to secure Italy’s first win since 2015, finally snapping a 36-game losing streak.

A defeat to Georgia in the summer was a bump in the road but a first-ever victory over Australia in the autumn restored the feel-good factor in style.

With the Netflix cameras filming a docuseries behind the scenes of this year’s Six Nations, New Zealander Crowley believes he has a responsibility to bring excitement to the screens, starting with Italy’s opening game at home to defending champions France on Sunday 5 February.

Read more: Italy Six Nations squad 2023

Crowley said: “Netflix is going to be great for Italian rugby. I think we have a duty to promote rugby. Test match rugby has become boring in a lot of respects.

“It’s all about the win, which it has to be. Rugby in general is going through some challenging times with head injuries.

“I think, as coaches and teams, it is a great initiative by Six Nations to include Netflix and because hopefully it can tell the story a little bit of what goes on and the joy of it.

“A place like Rome comes alive because of the Six Nations, so for them to now get behind the scenes, it is going to be great.

“We’ve got no problem with it, we embrace it. We’ve just got to keep a lid on some of our boys so that they don’t try to be movie stars and act naturally.”

Crowley admits he feels a responsibility to produce an attacking brand of rugby and think outside the box in an era where emphasis has shifted towards defence and shutting teams out.

The 61-year-old acknowledges that every side has to develop a style that suits their best interests but believes differing identities are what makes the game so special.

Related: Six Nations fixtures

He added: “You’ve got to play to the strengths of your team. Our strengths are different to say France or England.

“As coaches we have a responsibility to protect the game and create a fan experience. I’m not talking about doing stupid stuff but there’s that much emphasis on defence now, you have to try and find different ways to break down defence.

“We haven’t got the big ball carriers that say a France team have, so we have to play a little bit different. But that’s the beauty of rugby I suppose, every team has got their own identity.”

Everyone likes to enjoy themselves at work and rugby players are no different. Crowley insists a relaxed, enjoyable environment is key to helping his players tick. Of course, that is markedly easier to maintain having shifted the large monkey off their back courtesy of Edoardo Padovani’s late try in the Welsh capital 12 months ago.

“We used to get it all the time (talk of the losing run),” explained Crowley. “You can always say you don’t take any notice of it but it was always in the background. So it’s a dawn of a new era maybe – we will have to wait and see.

“You’ve got to create an environment where the players can enjoy it. When things don’t go well, you’ve got to embrace that as well, because that’s going to happen. Players have to have the freedom to make those mistakes and learn from them.”

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