Jump to main content


Ireland v Italy: Famous Five

Ireland v Italy: Famous Five

Played five. Won five. 22 tries scored. Lining out against Italy in the Six Nations has more often than not brought the best out of Ireland. We examine their past performances against the Azzurri.

Played five. Won five. 22 tries scored. Lining out against Italy in the Six Nations has more often than not brought the best out of Ireland. We examine their past performances against the Azzurri.

SIX NATIONS: 2000: ‘Ronan The Record Breaker’
Ireland 60 Italy 13, Lansdowne Road
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Keith Wood, Kieron Dawson, Girvan Dempsey, Brian O’Driscoll, Shane Horgan 2. Cons: Ronan O’Gara 6; Pens: O’Gara 6
Italy: Try: Andrea de Rossi; Con: Diego Dominguez; Pens: Dominguez

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Munster out-half Ronan O’Gara showed a sign of times to come at Lansdowne Road five years ago as, following his debut two weeks previously, the then 22-year-old scored a Six Nations record of 30 points against the Italians.

He overhauled the previous best of 24 – set by his current provincial deputy Paul Burke in 1997 – as Warren Gatland’s men set off at a point-a-minute rate.

Touch downs followed for Keith Wood, Kieron Dawson, Girvan Dempsey, Brian O’Driscoll and two for Shane Horgan – also on his second start – as Italy took until 48 minutes to see Diego Dominguez kick their opening points.

England hero Jonny Wilkinson reassumed the record from O’Gara for most points in a Six Nations game, when scoring 35 points against the men-in-blue twelve months later.

Trivia: Not only was O’Gara rewriting history with six penalties and six conversions, the six-try win also saw Ireland to back-the-back championship wins for the first time since 1993. Meanwhile, carrot-topped Welsh referee Derek Bevan was also bowing out of the international game, with the fixture marking his final game in charge.

Ireland: Dempsey; S Horgan, O’Driscoll, Mullins, Hickie; O’Gara, Stringer; Clohessy, Wood (Capt), Hayes, Galwey, O’Kelly, S Easterby, Dawson, Foley.
Replacements: Sheahan, Fitzpatrick, Johns, O’Cuinneagain, G Easterby, Humphreys, Henderson.

2001: ‘Hat-Trick Hendo’
Italy 22 Ireland 41, Stadio Flaminio
Scorers: Italy: Tries: Corrado Pilat, Carlo Checchinato, Mauro Bergamasco; Cons: Ramiro Pez 2; Pen: Pilat
Ireland: Tries: Rob Henderson 3, Shane Horgan, Ronan O’Gara; Con: O’Gara 2; Pens: O’Gara 4

Another Munster man, Rob Henderson had undoubtedly his finest game for Ireland on their first visit to Rome’s Stadio Flaminio as he pocketed a nifty 19-minute hat-trick of tries.

His 39th-minute opener was the best of the lot as O’Gara sent him crashing over past Christian Stoica in the left corner in a bullocking 40-metre dash.

The Azzurri were still right in it at the break, losing just 19-15 after tries from right wing Corrado Pilat and lock Carlo Checchinato.

Henderson – a future Lion that year – took just two minutes to bag a timely second on the restart and a brilliant run and chip ahead from Tyrone Howe paved the way for the Kingston-on-Thames-born centre to notch his third soon after.

Horgan – scoring his third in two games – and O’Gara also got in for a debut try as Italy scrum-half Alessandro Troncon was sensationally sent-off on 76 minutes for an off-the-ball punch on opposite number Peter Stringer.

Trivia: South African referee Jonathan Kaplan was a busy man that day as Italian prop Andrea Muraro and Ireland front rower Peter Clohessy were also sin-binned in separate incidents. ‘The Claw’ celebrated long into the night though as Ireland chalked up their first ‘opening day’ win since 1988.

Ireland: Dempsey; S Horgan, Mullins, Henderson, Howe; O’Gara, Stringer; Clohessy, Wood (Capt), Hayes, Galwey, O’Kelly, Quinlan, Wallace, Foley.

Replacements: Sheahan, E Byrne, Ward, O’Meara, Humphreys, Maggs, Davidson.

2002: ‘Kelly’s Eye’
Ireland 32 Italy 17, Lansdowne Road
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: John Kelly 2, Denis Hickie. Con: Ronan O’Gara. Pens: David Humphreys 4, O’Gara
Italy: Tries: Mauro Bergamasco, Gianpiero de Carli; Cons: Diego Dominguez 2; Drop: Gert Peens

Newcomer John Kelly did it again for Munster and Ireland three years ago when touching down twice in a scrappy win.

The game was only notable for two incidents as Italy’s South African-born full-back Gert Peens dropped a majestic goal from halfway early in the second half, and the visitors again lost two men to the sin-bin, as this time, props Salvatore Perugini, carded for a blatant headbutt on Stringer, and Gianpiero de Carli, who came back on to score a late try, were flashed yellow by Scotland’s Rob Dickson.

Trivia: David Humphreys’ fourth-minute penalty saw him claim the new Ireland points record – by-passing Michael Kiernan (308).

Ireland: Dempsey; Kelly, S Horgan, O’Driscoll, Hickie; Humphreys (Capt), Stringer; Clohessy, S Byrne, Hayes, Longwell, O’Kelly, S Easterby, D Wallace, Foley.
Replacements: Paul Wallace, Sheahan, O’Connell, Miller, G Easterby, Howe, O’Gara.

2003: ‘Five Alive For Ireland’
Italy 13 Ireland 37, Stadio Flaminio
Scorers: Italy: Try: Denis Dallan; Con: Diego Dominguez; Pens: Dominguez, Ramiro Pez
Ireland: Tries: Peter Stringer, John Kelly, David Humphreys, Brian O’Driscoll, Geordan Murphy. Cons: Humphreys 3; Pens: Humphreys 2

Eddie O’Sullivan’s had one of their more comfortable afternoons at the internationl office, with Stringer, Kelly, Humphreys, O’Driscoll and Geordan Murphy sharing out five tries.

Murphy, playing full-back and making nine excellent carries, scored the best of the lot as Humphreys’ delicate pass to O’Driscoll set The Leicester Tiger racing over from 15 metres out.

Humphreys exuded control at 10, as Italian coach John Kirwan cursed his side’s ”lack of patience” in a stop-start display. Winger Denis Dallan scored their only try – indeed, their last one against O’Sullivan’s men, as Limerick 2003 and Dublin 2004 saw them fail to breach the Irish line.

Trivia: Skipper O’Driscoll – although having one of his quieter days – took over fellow Blackrock back Brendan Mullin’s Ireland try record as he scored his 18th in the second half, before embarking on a frustrating eight-month period without a score.

Ireland: Murphy; Kelly, O’Driscoll, Maggs, Hickie; Humphreys, Stringer; Corrigan, S Byrne, Hayes, Longwell, O’Kelly, Costello, Gleeson, Foley (Capt).
Replacements: Sheahan, Horan, Cullen, Quinlan, G Easterby, Burke, Henderson.

2004: ‘Wind The Winner’
Ireland 19 Italy 3, Lansdowne Road
Scorers: Ireland: Tries: Malcolm O’Kelly, Brian O’Driscoll, Shane Horgan; Cons: Ronan O’Gara 2
Italy: Pen: Roland De Marigny

O’Driscoll was again at the forefront of an Ireland win, as despite the Dublin wind ruling the afternoon, the number 13’s 33rd-minute flash of brilliance – cutting over on the blindside – stole the headlines.

O’Sullivan dubbed it ”clinical”, and that’s all it could be as Italy were packaged off in blustery conditions. A low throw from replacement hooker Carlo Festuccia gifted Malcolm O’Kelly Ireland’s opener after 26 minutes.

The Irish went 19-0 up on 50 minutes as O’Gara sent Horgan scurrying over, before Roland De Marigny kicked the visitors’ only points seventeen minutes later.

Trivia: O’Driscoll was harshly yellow-carded in the second half for a supposed neck-high challenge on Paul Griffen, but television replays showed otherwise. Fabio Ongaro also paid a trip to the bin on a day otherwise notable for the 14th anniversary of JR’s shooting on ‘Dallas’.

Ireland: Dempsey; S Horgan, D’Arcy, O’Driscoll (Capt), Murphy; O’Gara, Stringer; Corrigan, S Byrne, Hayes, O’Kelly, O’Callaghan, S Easterby, Gleeson, Foley.
Replacements: Sheahan, Horan, Longwell, Costello, Humphreys, G Easterby, Maggs.