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Tag: Italy

Weak Six Nations

Three games in and this is looking to be one of the worse Six Nations competitions of recent years. Wales’ table position is rather flattering, and with France and Ireland yet to play the big games are still ahead for them. And once again Scotland will be vying for the wooden spoon with Italy. But all is not lost. England’s performances have provoked some of the finest examples of impartial commentating from the BBC, including this ‘special’ moment from Brian Moore.

France Crowned Again on Six Nations Super Saturday—Probably!

Ireland denied once again on points difference from their first Six Nations championship, and on St Patrick’s Day to boot, as France took the challenge set by Ireland in their 8 try victory over the Azzurri. With the unlikely Italian victory out of the picture, the French set to work against Scotland in Paris, with a target of 24 points. Although England playing in Cardiff would have a mathematical chance to clinch the title, a championship victory for them would be an incredible feat. The title was France’s to lose, and Scotland’s to deny.

A dramatic start to the day in the Stadio Flaminio as Ireland looked to stretch a big point victory over Italy to put France in a difficult position later in the day. Italy started well, kicking penalties and a drop goal, and despite conceding two tries looked to be in a decent position at 12-13 until a controversial try to Ireland in the dying minutes of the half put them 12-20 ahead. The second half, however, was a one horse race, as Ireland put try after try past the Italian defence. The game opened up considerably as the scoreboard racked up a considerable points difference for Ireland, but a last minute decision to continue after the clock went red left Italy in a position to score a generously awarded second try to claw back 7 points before the final whistle. The final score of 24-51 left France needing a victory margin of 24 points to claim the trophy.

Knowing what they had to do in Paris, the Scots ignited the game with an early try to put France on the back foot. From there France fully attacked the game, looking to be half way to their tally by half time, when Sean Lamont took a quick penalty to sprint for the line and spoil French hopes. Leading 20-14 going into the second half, France got the bit between their teeth and forced a 25 point lead with over 15 minutes to go. First half hero Lamont was bizarrely sin binned for an infraction by his younger brother Rory, and all looked to be going France’s way using all the strength, speed and skill they could muster. Yet a late try from the unlikely arms of Euan Murray put the championship just beyond France’s reach. As the BBC commentator put it:

“He’s got a five yard run in, and like every good tight-head prop, he’s now got cramp!”

Patterson’s failed conversion left France needing a try to win. The clock went red, the French pushed for the line, pushing on, penalty after penalty. With the ball over the line, the referee went to the television referee asking for any reason not to award the try—and who other than an Irishman to be occupying that position! The try awarded. France triumphant. Ireland beaten on points difference for the second year running.

Although Wales will play host to England shortly, the required margin for England (victory by 57 points) to claim the championship essentially confirms France’s championship.

France Flooded, Ireland Crowned, Italy Arrive, Wales Go Back to School

Wales v Italy

Another busy weekend for the Rugby Six Nations which saw Ireland win the Triple Crown for the third time in four years after beating Scotland 19-18 in a stiffly fought match which left Ireland’s points scorer Ronan O’Gara breathless. Some tremendous tackles from the likes of Sean Lamont prevented the scoreline really opening up, and a few flare ups on the pitch illustrated the tension between the teams. A flat Irish performance kept their championship hopes alive, whilst Scotland’s comeback after such a downheartening result against Italy a fortnight ago illustrates the importance of Chris Paterson to the side (statistically the best kicker in the world at the moment).

Later in the day, Italy pulled out a well deserved 23 – 20 victory over Wales to beat their previous record in the Six Nations championship. With ten seconds left on the clock, Wales forewent a penalty to tie the game in order to push for a win by kicking to touch. Perhaps time they included some rudimentary arithmetic with the training. Disappointing for the Wales team, but an important step forward for Italy in the Six Nations championship.

And in a strange game a Twickenham, the championship was really carved open as England edged out a lacklustre France with a nervous start to a game plagued with basic errors from both sides. The result leaves France in top spot on points difference, but denies them a Grand Slam victory, and opens the championship up to four potential victors—France, Ireland, England or Italy, the first three in charge of their own championship hopes. All will be decided on St. Patrick’s Day—perhaps it will finally be Ireland’s year!

AC Milan to Play in Champions League

As everyone is no doubt aware, the investigation into match fixing allegations in Italy’s Serie A led to the punishment of the top four clubs, Juventus, Fiorentina, Lazio and AC Milan, with the league title being given instead to Inter Milan. The punishments for the clubs varied, from Juventus’ severe reprimand of 2 previous league titles, demotion to Serie B and a 30-point deduction in the upcoming season, to AC Milan’s 15-point penalty and ban from the UEFA Champions’ League. However, following the various clubs’ appeals, some reduction in penalties have been awarded, with AC Milan not only having their penalty slashed to 8 points, but also being reinstated in the Champions’ League. If the BBC are watching closely, in line with their generous resurrection of previous cult classics a la Doctor Who, perhaps they should consider a resurrection of another famous ’70s Saturday evening show: Silvio’ll Fix It?

Italy Triumph: But Something Ails Our Beautiful Game

The Italian team celebrate victory

So Italy have taken the title for a fourth time, bringing their tally to four, edging them out as the best in Europe, and ending what should be acknowledged as one of the worst tournaments in recent memory. For the second time in its history, the final was settled on a penalty shoot-out, the feeling of the fans towards the end soured by a red card for Zinedine Zidane for headbutting Marco Materazzi.

There can be little doubt that the tournament was marred by some dire games, poor refereeing decisions, strange FIFA interference, and a generally lack-lustre performance from many of the teams, particularly towards the end of the tournament. Can any blame be apportioned for this? Or was it simply the luck of the draw that this tournament was destined to be poor viewing for the spectators? Of course, credit should be apportioned where it is due, and both the hosts and the fans did an excellent job in ensuring the tournament was shrouded in a carnival atmosphere, and the focus for the media could be left to the football.

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