The Azzurre’s journey at the 2022 World Cup has come to an end
Italy Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad 2022
The Azzurre made history in becoming the first Italy team – male or female – to reach the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, but that is where their journey has ended.
They were able to frustrate France for the best part of an hour of their last-eight tie but they were never able to get their running game into gear and then a yellow card in the second half proved costly as they conceded four tries in ten minutes.
For all the territory and possession France had in the opening 40 minutes, Italy did well to go in at half-time trailing only 10-3. They had to make nearly twice as many tackles as their opponents but they made those tackles count in holding out the French, which they weren’t able to do in the opening three minutes.
They gave Emilie Boulard far too much space to run back a deep kick and she was able to offload to Joanna Grisez in support to run in under the posts.
Michela Sillari was able to cut the deficit shortly before the break with a penalty that came after Italy’s best passage of play. Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi kicked ahead after being put into space by Maria Magatti and the ball rolled into touch just before the corner flag, giving Italy a lineout because of the 50:22.
While that throw was not straight, they built from a second lineout following France’s clearance and earned the penalty.
Yet just before the break they were forced to defend deep in their own 22 and Magatti was sin-binned for tackling a player while off her feet. Caroline Drouin slotted the resulting penalty and Italy would play the first ten minutes of the second half with only 14 players.
They weathered that period pretty well, conceding only another Drouin penalty, but around the hour mark Silvia Turani was sin-binned after referee Hollie Davidson awarded France a penalty try at a scrum. Three more tries followed for France and Italy have been knocked out.
Italy team to play France – Saturday 29 October
Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi; Auro Muzzo, Michela Sillari, Beatrice Rigoni, Maria Magatti; Veronica Madia, Sofia Stefan; Silvia Turani, Melissa Bettoni, Lucia Gai, Valeria Fedrighi, Giordana Duca, Francesca Sgorbini, Isabella Locatelli, Elisa Giordano (captain).
Replacements: Vittoria Vecchini, Gaia Maris, Sara Seye, Michela Merlo, Beatrice Veronese, Sara Barattin, Alyssa D’Inca, Manuela Furlan.
Japan 8-21 Italy
Italy laboured to a 21-8 victory over Japan in their last Rugby World Cup pool game. It may not have been pretty but it was enough to book them a quarter-final spot.
After a bright start, they struggled to build momentum due to both their own ill-discipline (they conceded twice as many penalties as their opponents) and Japan’s effectiveness at the breakdown, where they were able to win numerous turnovers.
Still, the boot of Michela Sillari, who kicked three penalties and a conversion, ensured they will progress to the knockout stages.
A well-worked try put Italy ahead in the tenth minute. After an initial thrust forward from Elisa Giordano the ball was spread wide to Aura Muzzo, who broke down the wing before being hauled down a metre from the line. Fellow wing Maria Magatti was in support, though, to pick up the ball at the base and dive over.
They dominated that opening quarter but were unable to get any more points on the board – their penalty count not helping – and then Japan levelled things up with a try of their own on the half-hour mark.
The Azzurre took a narrow 8-5 lead into the break when Sillari slotted a penalty and it was a further two three-pointers from the centre that proved crucial in closing out the win, albeit that Melissa Bettoni’s try from close range in the 78th minute added a little more gloss to the scoreline.
Italy team to play Japan – Sunday 23 October
Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi; Aura Muzzo, Michela Sillari, Beatrice Rigoni, Maria Magatti; Veronica Madia, Sara Barattin; Silvia Turani, Melissa Bettoni, Sara Seye, Sara Tounesi, Giordana Duca, Francesca Sgorbini, Giada Franco, Elisa Giordano (captain).
Replacements: Vittoria Vecchini, Gaia Maris, Emanuela Stecca, Valeria Fedrighi, Isabella Locatelli, Beatrice Veronese, Sofia Stefan, Alyssa D’Inca.
Italy 12-22 Canada
Italy were able to outmanoeuvre a physical USA team last week with their running game, but they couldn’t do the same against Canada as they lost 22-12 in their Rugby World Cup Pool B match at Waitakere Stadium in Auckland.
The Azzurre got off to the perfect start when Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi broke through a cluster of Canada defenders then weaved away from a few others to score in the corner with less than 30 seconds on the clock.
Yet as the game wore on they struggled to cope with the Canadians’ power, whether at the set-piece or contact error, and the Azzurre’s own errors, whether in their handling, discipline or decision-making, proved costly as they couldn’t build on that bright opening.
Instead, Canada had the bonus point wrapped up by half-time with two driving maul tries for Emily Tuttosi as well as scores by Paige Farries and Sara Kaljuvee.
They did score another try in the final minute. Michela Sillari made a great break into the Canada 22 and a few phases later captain Elisa Giordano crashed over from close range.
Italy will now need to beat Japan in their final pool match next weekend to qualify for the knockout stages.
Italy team to play Canada – Sunday 16 October
Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi; Aura Muzzo, Michela Sillari, Beatrice Rigoni, Maria Magatti; Veronica Madia, Sofia Stefan; Silvia Turani, Melissa Bettoni, Sara Seye, Valeria Fedrighi, Giordana Duca, Beatrice Veronese, Giada Franco, Elisa Giordano (captain).
Replacements: Vittoria Vecchini, Gaia Maris, Emanuela Stecca, Isabella Locatelli, Francesca Sgorbini, Sara Barattin, Alyssa D’Inca, Francesca Granzotto.
USA 10-22 Italy
Italy recovered from an error-strewn first half to secure a 22-10 bonus-point win over the USA in their opening Rugby World Cup match.
While the USA suffered from continual lineout malfunctions, Italy struggled to find the accuracy in their passing game to make the most of their attacking opportunities in the first 40 – but crucially got things to click late in the second period.
After conceding an early try, Italy showed flashes of their potential but dropped balls and forward passes proved costly. They eventually crossed in the 39th minute when Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi went over in the corner.
The move was started by a smart Veronica Madia offload to Francesca Sgorbini before the ball was spread wide and Michela Sillari’s touchline conversion gave the Azzurre a 7-5 half-time lead.
They extended that lead in the 50th minute when Beatrice Rigoni fired a miss pass to Aura Muzzo to cross in the corner and while they conceded another try after Ostuni Minuzzi was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on they were quick to restore their advantage when Muzzo scored her second.
Then in the 70th minute came a sublime try. A set move from a lineout saw half-backs Sara Barattin and Madia link up, then Maria Magatti hit a brilliant line off her fly-half and cut across the pitch to score in the corner and give Italy a 22-10 lead with ten minutes to go that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Italy team to play USA – Sunday 9 October
Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi; Aura Muzzo, Michela Sillari, Beatrice Rigoni, Maria Magatti; Veronica Madia, Sofia Stefan; Silvia Turani, Melissa Bettoni, Lucia Gai, Valeria Fedrighi, Sara Tounesi, Ilaria Arrighetti, Giada Franco, Elisa Giordano (captain).
Replacements: Vittoria Vecchini, Gaia Maris, Sara Seye, Isabella Locatelli, Beatrice Veronese, Francesca Sgorbini, Sara Barattin, Alyssa D’Incà.
Italy Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad 2022
Italy booked their place at the 2022 Rugby World Cup in September 2021, seeing off the likes of Ireland and Scotland to finish top of the European qualification standings.
It was yet another example of the Azzurre proving that they can match almost all the teams in the northern hemisphere. Since the last World Cup in 2017, they have won at least one match in each Six Nations and no less than two in every campaign where they played five games.
The 2022 campaign was no different, as Italy displayed their resilient traits. After losing their first three matches, Andrea Di Giandomenico’s side responded with wins in the final two rounds, including an impressive 10-8 victory away to a resurgent Wales.
Italy’s decent form continued in their warm-up matches – they pushed Canada close and beat France to rise to fifth in the world rankings.
Italian women’s rugby is progressing off the field too. Last April, it was announced that the nation’s first centralised contracts for female players would be offered to help the team’s World Cup preparations.
Elisa Giordano will captain Italy at the World Cup and the other good news for the Azzurre is that Manuela Furlan has been named amongst the 32-strong Italy Women’s Rugby World Cup squad.
The full-back/wing suffered a knee injury in a warm-up match against France and it was originally thought that the veteran would be ruled out of the tournament. However, further examinations mean that they believe she will be able to play some part in the World Cup.
There is more experience in the side in the likes of Sara Barattin, Michela Sillari, Melissa Bettoni and Ilaria Arrighetti, while wing Sofia Rolfi is the only uncapped player in the squad.
Here is the Italy Women’s Rugby World Cup squad.
Sara Barattin (11 Sep 1986/Arredissima Villorba/Scrum-half)
Beatrice Capomaggi (29 Apr 1997/Arredissima Villorba/Centre)
Alyssa D’Inca (23 Mar 2002/Arredissima Villorba/Centre)
Manuela Furlan (30 Jun 1988/Arredissima Villorba/Full-back)
Francesca Granzotto (22 Mar 2002/Unione Rugby Capitolina/Wing)
Veronica Madia (16 Jan 1995/Rugby Colorno/Fly-half)
Maria Magatti (21 Aug 1992/CUS Milano/Wing)
Aura Muzzo (12 Apr 1997/Arredissima Villorba/Wing)
Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi (6 Dec 2001/Valsugana Rugby/Wing)
Beatrice Rigoni (1 Aug 1995/Valsugana Rugby/Centre)
Sofia Rolfi (24 Aug 2001/Rugby Colorno/Wing)
Michela Sillari (23 Feb 1993/Valsugana Rugby/Centre)
Sofia Stefan (12 May 1992/Valsugana Rugby/Scrum-half)
Emma Stevanin (11 Apr 2002/Valsugana Rugby/Fly-half)
Ilaria Arrighetti (2 Mar 1993/Stade Rennais/Back-row)
Francesca Barro (4 Aug 1999/Valsugana Rugby/Prop)
Melissa Bettoni (7 May 1991/Stade Rennais/Hooker)
Giordana Duca (18 Sep 1992/Valsugana Rugby/Lock)
Valeria Fedrighi (5 Sep 1992/Toulouse/Lock)
Giada Franco (11 Jul 1996/Rugby Colorno/Back-row)
Lucia Gai (3 May 1991/Valsugana Rugby/Prop)
Elisa Giordano (1 Nov 1990/Valsugana Rugby/Back-row)
Isabella Locatelli (23 Oct 1994/Rugby Colorno/Lock)
Gaia Maris (5 Dec 2001/Valsugana Rugby/Prop)
Michela Merlo (9 Apr 1986/Rugby Colorno/Prop)
Sara Seye (26 Aug 2000/Calvisano/Prop)
Francesca Sgorbini (7 Jan 2001/ASM Romagnat/Back-row)
Emanuela Stecca (24 Feb 1997/Arredissima Villorba/Prop)
Sara Tounesi (19 Jul 1995/ASM Romagnat/Prop)
Silvia Turani (6 Jul 1995/Rugby Colorno/Prop)
Vittoria Vecchini (13 Jan 2002/Valsugana Rugby/Hooker)
Beatrice Veronese (11 Mar 1996/Valsugana Rugby/Back-row)
Italy Women’s Rugby World Cup Fixtures 2022
Sun 9 Oct, USA 10-22 Italy
Sun 16 Oct, Italy 12-22 Canada
Sun 23 Oct, Japan 8-21 Italy
Sat 29 Oct, France 39-3 Italy
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