In recent years, the Scotland v Italy showdown in the RBS 6 Nations has gone a long way to deciding the team that gets the tournament wooden spoon. And while results in the early stages of this staging do not suggest this encounter will be any different, there is hope for both nations that in the coming years that won’t be the case. And, in Rugby World Cup year, a victory on Saturday could propel either side to greater things later in 2015.
Scotland’s performances in the Autumn Internationals of 2014 gave some much needed hope to a proud rugby nation that had been in the rugby doldrums a little too long. A last Six Nations victory came when the championship didn’t technically exist – the Scots won the final Five Nations in 1999. Since then there have been third placed finishes, a mixture of 4ths and 5ths and three wooden spoons.
However, a stirring performance in defeat against the All Blacks and victories over Argentina and Tonga in the Autumn suggested head coach Vern Cotter had got things going in the right direction. And while results have gone against them so far, Scotland were within touching distance of France and Wales in rounds one and two.
Italy’s early performances have not been quite as promising as Scotland’s. Many sensed a potential upset when Ireland went to Rome on the opening weekend, only for that prediction to be snuffed out by a solid Irish display that overcame resolute Italian defence. The following week, when Italy travelled to Twickenham, they were greeted by a second half romp when England attacked with real verve – although the Italians did manage to grab three tries of their own.
Having gone winless in the 2014 RBS Six Nations, Sergio Parrise and his men will see this as their best chance to ensure they don’t secure another fruitless campaign, although a victory isn’t certain to condemn them to that fate, with both France and Wales to visit Rome on the final weekends of the tournament.
Of course, Italian hopes for this weekend have been dealt a blow with the news that Martin Castrogiovanni will miss the game after being bitten on the nose by a dog.
The head-to-head between the two nations makes for interesting reading. They have met 21 times in all rugby with a 2 to 1 split. Scotland have come out on top 14 times to Italy’s seven. Last year’s meeting in Rome saw Scotland emerge victorious by a single point, while the Saltires triumphed in 2013 by the slightly more comfortable margin of 34 – 10.
Scotland start as favourites for this clash, but if Italy can get the win at Murrayfield, they’ll certainly be best in show.
Show your support for Scotland with an Official Scotland Ball
Show your support for Italy with an Official Italy Ball
Get your hands on the Official RBS 6 Nations Supporter Ball
Follow Gilbert Rugby on Social Media