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After 36 consecutive games and 7 years marked only by defeats, on Saturday the men’s rugby team won again in the Six Nations tournament. He did it in Wales against the eighth international in the world, at the last minute of play of the last day, just seconds from what would have been the seventh edition ended without a win, in a country in which he had never won before.
The victory at the end of Cardiff did not serve to remove the last place in the standings and therefore the traditional “wooden spoon”, the symbolic prize that goes to the last classified of the Six Nations. However, she avoided the “coat” – that is, she did not lose them all, as had happened continuously since 2016 – and above all she restored enthusiasm to the players and to the whole environment.
A win was not expected in this edition and another winless year was largely taken into account. Italy, in fact, had presented itself to this Six Nations to start a new cycle after many and important changes made to return to obtaining results in the medium term. Now, however, it can be said that he finished the tournament better than expected, with many good prospects also given by the excellent results obtained in the youth Six Nations, which Italy concluded in fourth place with three victories, including the first ever against football. ‘England.
From the previous edition, Italy had changed profoundly, starting with the new federal president, Marzio Innocenti, chosen to give another direction to a movement that over the years had stalled between short-sighted choices and unsuccessful projects. To get the national team back on track as soon as possible with the means available, the Federation has entrusted itself to Benetton Treviso, for years the best team in Italy, which has long been competitive also on an international level.
Last June the coach from Treviso, the New Zealander Kieran Crowley, had been sent to the national team, and with him the starting block of the Venetian team, including the new captain, Michele Lamaro. Of the 33 initially called up for the Six Nations, 23 came from Treviso, while in the starting line-up that beat Wales on Saturday they were 10 out of 15.
The rest of the players had been recovered by the Zebre di Parma, the second Italian team, in the midst of a complicated re-foundation entrusted to the publisher Michele Dalai, and by foreign teams. In order to broaden the so-called player base, necessary to maintain a uniform level of competitiveness, the Federation also continued to look for the best players abroad with Italian origins: among these, in Grenoble he had found Ange Capuozzo, a Frenchman of Italian origin, already inserted in the tour of the national youth teams.
Capuozzo’s debut in the first team had an impact rarely seen in the Six Nations. At 22 he made his debut on the penultimate matchday against Scotland, immediately scoring two tries. A week later, in Wales, he started the decisive action by finding a hole in the Welsh defense and putting Edoardo Padovani in a position to make a goal under the posts to favor the subsequent transformation of Paolo Garbisi.
The victory in Cardiff was unexpected but it came at the right time, that is at the end of an edition of the Six Nations during which there was much talk of the possibility that South Africa, the reigning world champion national team, could take the place. of Italy, as part of a reorganization of the tournament driven by the British investment fund CVC, which last year had invested between 350 and 425 million dolars.
The indiscretion was initially published in British newspapers and then picked up in all participating countries. In a few days, however, the Six Nations council had denied it, definitively confirming Italy’s place. After the Cardiff win, Crowley commented these voices saying, «We focus on ourselves. Probably a lot of criticism is also justified, after 36 consecutive defeats, but now it is another story and this is the most pleasant thing for us, who have never worried about anything else ».
As things have turned out, now it is hoped that the movement can take a right direction and start growing again, because time passes. The last place of this edition is the seventh in a row and the seventeenth in twenty-three years (in which the hundred defeats have been exceeded). France, which joined the tournament in 1910, in 92 games played in its first 23 years of participation he won 25 per cent, against 9.5 per cent for Italy in 115 matches. A century has passed and the periods cannot really compare, but Italy has lost a decade and still has a lot to catch up on. Meanwhile, France won the tournament for the twenty-sixth time unbeaten on Saturday.