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Rivalries revisited: Scotland v Italy

Rivalries revisited: Scotland v Italy

Rivalries revisited: Scotland v Italy

The Summer Nations Series will be an excellent opportunity to settle some old scores and in the case of Italy and Scotland there are a few.

Although both coaches will have an eye on the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France later this year, they will want to head there with wins under their belts.

The Summer Nations Series offers five rounds of gripping games and the campaign will get underway with a fascinating clash between two of the northern hemisphere’s most exciting sides.

Italy and Scotland will go head-to-head later this month, just four months on from a thrilling Guinness Six Nations encounter that went to the wire.

So, with a phenomenal second half of 2023 to look forward to, and less than six months to go until the start of the 2024 Guinness Six Nations, let’s look back at this mouth-watering rivalry.

Late heartbreak for Italy

The Azzurri were five points behind Gregor Townsend’s side with ten minutes left to play in their Round 5 clash at BT Murrayfield in March.

With the score at 19-14, a try would almost certainly have won the match for Kieran Crowley’s team, but Scotland had other ideas.

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As the clock turned red, they won the ball back, but instead of kicking the ball out, they launched a stunning counterattack.

Duhan Van der Merwe marched the ball up field before feeding Blair Kinghorn, who secured a stunning hat-trick and a bonus point for Scotland in the process.

Not only did the result end Italian hopes of a first triumph in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations, but it also meant they would have to wait even longer for a first victory over Scotland since 2015.

A 2018 nail-biter

The closest Italy have come to beating Scotland since 2015 was during the 2018 Guinness Six Nations.

With five minutes left to play at Stadio Olimpico, they were in the driver’s seat, inspired by Tommaso Allan’s double and a Matteo Minozzi score.

Scotland put themselves back into the lead thanks to Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg but the Azzurri regained the lead through an Allan penalty and they led 27-26 with time on their side.

Townsend’s team would not go down without a fight though and managed to earn a penalty on the edge of the 22. Greig Laidlaw made no mistake and Scotland were victorious in a memorable clash.

Brilliant Italy at BT Murrayfield

Prior to their last-gasp 2022 triumph over Wales, Italy’s last win in the Guinness Six Nations came at BT Murrayfield in 2015.

Thanks to tries from Joshua Furno and Giovambattista Venditti, they trailed 16-15 at half-time, with Mark Bennett scoring his first try for Scotland.

Laidlaw’s boot seemed to have again got Scotland out of trouble and they lead 19-15 with mere seconds on the clock.

Italy were on the front foot though and referee George Clancy awarded Italy a penalty try after Scotland cynically collapsed a whitewash-bound driving maul.

Allan kicked the conversion to rub salt in the wound, handing the Azzurri their first win in the Championship since a 2013 triumph over Ireland.

However, it was not their first win away from home.

First ever win on the road

Italy had recorded their first Six Nations triumph away from home eight years earlier, and there was nothing close about that one.

The Azzurri’s victory over Scotland during the 2007 Championship was not only their first-ever Six Nations win on the road, but it is also still their largest-ever victory over a Tier 1 nation.

The match could not have got off to a worse start for the hosts as Mauro Bergamasco, Andrea Scanavacca and Kaine Robertson went over to give their side a 21-0 inside six minutes.

Scotland clawed their way back into the match, reducing the deficit to seven points at one stage thanks to scores from Rob Dewey and Chris Paterson but Italy found a second win and Alessandro Troncon’s try sealed a 37-17 win.

The Azzurri’s first Six Nations win

Fans can rest assured in the knowledge that Italy and Scotland are capable of putting on a show.

Scotland have been in control in recent years, but with the Azzurri are on the ascendency and out to prove a point making this fixture so enticing.

And they can take inspiration from Italy’s class of 2000.

Twenty-three years ago, Italy recorded their first-ever Six Nations win, beating Scotland 34-20 at Stadio Flaminio.

Giampiero de Carli scored Italy’s first ever try in the Championship while Diego Dominguez scored 29 points with his boot, including three drop goals.

It was an historic moment for Italian rugby as the Azzurri marked their Six Nations debut with a victory, sending a message to sides across the northern hemisphere.


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