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Preview: Scotland v Italy

Preview: Scotland v Italy

Kyle Steyn

Scotland welcome Italy to Scottish Gas Murrayfield for the opening game of the Summer Nations Series with both teams testing their depth in Edinburgh.

Four months on from a dramatic meeting in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations, the sides will meet once again, but this time with very different priorities.

Both Gregor Townsend and Kieran Crowley are using the encounter as a chance to try out some new combinations and give inexperienced players an opportunity to shine ahead of Rugby World Cup selection.

Team news

Rory Darge will lead Scotland for the first time, the flanker back fit after an injury-hit season and starting in the No.7 jersey.

There are two new caps for Scotland, centre Stafford McDowall in the starting side and lock Cameron Henderson on the bench, while Ben Healy is set for a first Test start at fly-half. Ollie Smith will get the first chance to fill the considerable boots of Stuart Hogg after his recent retirement.

Italy also have a new man leading the way, with Federico Ruzza taking on the captaincy in the absence of Michele Lamaro.

There are debuts for full-back Lorenzo Pani and scrum-half Martin Page-Relo while Montanna Ioane is back in Italy colours after missing the Guinness Six Nations.

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Ones to watch

There will be a lot of interest in Scotland fly-half Ben Healy, who will have the advantage of playing alongside an experienced international campaigner in Ali Price. This will be Healy’s opportunity to show that he deserves a spot in Scotland’s final 33-man squad.

Meanwhile, for Italy there is huge excitement around full-back Lorenzo Pani, a standout for their Under-20 side that defeated England twice in 2022. With Ange Capuozzo still recovering from injury and not expected back until the end of the Summer Nations Series, this is a chance for Pani to make a big impression.

Stat attack

  • Scotland have won each of their last 12 matches against Italy
  • Italy had the highest dominant carry rate of any side in the Guinness Six Nations (33%), while only France (29%) registered a higher tackle evasion rate than Scotland (25%)
  • Only England (92%) had a higher success rate on their own lineout ball than Italy (89%) in the Guinness Six Nations, while no side stole more opposition ball than Scotland (7, level with Ireland)


Scotland: 15 Ollie Smith, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Kyle Steyn, 10 Ben Healy, 9 Ali Price, 1 Rory Sutherland, 2 George Turner, 3 Murphy Walker, 4 Sam Skinner, 5 Scott Cummings, 6 Luke Crosbie, 7 Rory Darge (C), 8 Matt Fagerson

Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Javan Sebastian, 19 Cameron Henderson, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Blair Kinghorn, 23 Cameron Redpath

Italy: 15 Lorenzo Pani, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Tommaso Menoncello, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Montanna Ioane, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Martin Page-Relo, 1 Federico Zani, 2 Epalahame Faiva, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 4 David Sisi, 5 Andrea Zambonin, 6 Federico Ruzza (C), 7 Manuel Zuliani, 8 Toa Halafihi

Replacements: 16 Marco Manfredi, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Edoardo Iachizzi, 20 Lorenzo Cannone, 21 Alessandro Garbisi, 22 Giacomo Da Re, 23 Federico Mori.

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