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The Ireland v. Italy Test served as the centerpiece of the three match Rugby Weekend in Chicago. Assume the Soldier Field attendance number of 30,000 is correct, and subtract extra New Zealand fans, Women’s rugby fans, and Men’s Eagle supporters, then what may be left is around half that number for the Ireland and Italy match, which, generated almost no Italian-American participation.
Italian rugby has not substantially improved since the team’s 2000 elevation as the sixth nation in the European Six Nations Championship. Italy have never won more than two league games each season and sport a 12-97-1 record against the other five teams from Six Nation play, other Tests, and World Cup pool games. Finally, since January 2000, the Azzurri (Blues) are 53-153-1 in total matches, or a 24-percent win record.
In the past 19-years since admission to the Six Nations, Italy’s won/loss tally against their five competitors follows:
Money represented the sole reason for Italy’s ascendancy into the prosperous and prestigious Six Nations Championship. Bernard Lapasset (former World Rugby CEO) oversaw the former Five Nations Championship, which, because of its odd number (5) of nations could only offer a doubleheader of profitable television weekly. The solution to generate more income was to offer a third TV game per weekend, and that is why Italy entered the Championship.
Last Saturday, Ireland won 54-7 after leading only 14-7 at the break. In putting up 40-points in the second half, the Irish ran over and through the Italian defense, where shoddy or no tackling resulted in the second half, try bonanza. View match highlights at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hf3GN1SOV-sView
Italy have tried to establish an improved academy system to develop younger players. To date, there are few signs of success, and the national side has fallen into below top ten side World Rugby ranking.
Some would like to see an equitable, annual playoff for the sixth nation, which would allow Georgia, perhaps, to take Italy’s place. But this will never happen because a playoff with the bottom finisher might one season include any of the other Five Nations (e.g.; England, France, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland). These countries with over 100-years of competition will never reduce the marquee value of the Six Nations by featuring a lineup of potentially, Georgia, Spain, Russia, or Portugal.