23 May, 09:41
The IRFU is currently inviting applications for the position of Communications and Media Officer.
It will be England's first competitive game since they defeated Australia in Sydney last November where fly-half Jonny Wilkinson's dramatic drop goal in the final minute of extra-time secured the Webb Ellis trophy.
Italy have finished no higher than fifth in the tournament they became part of in 2000, but rather than fear England, Azzurri coach John Kirwan can't wait to face the defending Six Nations champions.
"For us, Sunday will be a fantastic day, a fun day," said the 39-year-old New Zealander, an integral member of the All Blacks side that captured the World Cup in 1987. "We will have the advantage of being the underdog. All the pressure will be on England because they are world champions and they have to go out and prove it in every match."
In the past, rugby has received a rather lukewarm reception from the football-crazy Italian public, but the prospect of seeing the newly-crowned world champions sparked a rush for tickets in the capital and the game is a 24,000 sell-out.
Kirwan, whose Italy team narrowly missed out on a first-ever quarter-final place at the World Cup, said playing in front of a full house will give his players extra motivation.
"It's the first time in the history of Italian rugby that the stadium will be full and we are obliged to give our all," he said. "It's our responsibility as a team to help rugby in Italy. There's been more interest, more media, more television coverage, more everything."
Kirwan said he was confident Italy would improve on their performance in last year's Six Nations when they claimed one victory against the Welsh, which was enough for them to avoid the wooden spoon for a fourth time.
"We need to consolidate our position as a team and continue to win matches," he said. "This year I'm looking for two victories, one at home and one away."
Calvisano flanker Andrea De Rossi will captain Italy as regular skipper Alessandro Troncon is still recovering from a knee injury.
Kirwan, scorer of 34 tries in 63 Test matches for New Zealand, said the 31-year-old De Rossi was the natural choice to lead the team out against England in the absence of Troncon. "One thing we ask all players is that they raise their game to another level when they put on the national shirt," he said. "The Italians have a phrase 'Mandare oltre', to play above yourself, and De Rossi always does that.
"He is completely different to Troncon in terms of personality. He is quieter and makes less noise out on the pitch, but he has an aura about him and the total respect of his team-mates."
England go into Sunday's match in Rome with just 10 of the starting side that defeated Australia. Wilkinson has been ruled out of the whole tournament after having surgery on a neck injury, so Northampton fly-half Paul Grayson takes over the kicking duties. Grayson has a proven international record with his tally of 357 points in 29 Tests making him England's third-highest scorer of all time behind Rob Andrew (396) and Wilkinson (817).
Lawrence Dallaglio takes over as skipper from Martin Johnson, who announced his retirement from international rugby last month after leading the team to victory in Australia.
Dallaglio, whose father was born in Italy, was England captain before Johnson, but was forced to resign from the post due to newspaper allegations he took drugs for recreational use, a claim he has always denied.
Flanker Neil Back, capped 66 times, has been axed by England coach Clive Woodward due to his poor form for his club Bath.
"Everyone will lift their game against us. I'm under no illusion about that. I know how I would play against the world champions. I would be at their throats from the start." said the 31-year-old Wasps No.8. "The game gives us the chance to set our standards again after the World Cup. This is our first match as world champions and every team will be looking for us,"
"Everyone in the squad realises the rugby world will be watching England but hopefully we have the experience and ability to handle it," Dallaglio told reporters at the squad's southern England training base. And he said the performance of Italian teams in this season's European competitions proved that John Kirwan's men were no longer content to be Six Nations makeweights.
"They had a difficult time during the World Cup in that their schedule gave them a big mountain to climb," he said. "For those of us who have been playing against their provincial sides in the European Cup competitions their improvement is there to see. Their results are getting better and better," insisted Dallaglio who lost the England captaincy to World Cup-winning skipper Johnson back in 1999 following newspaper allegations of drug use.
"Physically they provide the sternest of tests. In all the games I have played against Italy we have had to make an enormous amount of tackles. They have the ability to keep hold of the ball and put you under pressure."