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Countdown To Rome: Four Days To Go

Countdown To Rome: Four Days To Go

…Ireland’s Roman Adventures…Match Facts…Legends On The March To Rome…Say What?…Numbers Game…

IRELAND’S ROMAN ADVENTURES: Since the inaugural Six Nations championship in 2000, Ireland have played Italy at Rome’s Stadio Flaminio on three occasions – in 2001, 2003 and 2005 – winning each time.

See below for a snapshot of those matches, as the days count down towards the sides’ fourth meeting in the Italian capital.

2005 SIX NATIONS: February 6, 2005

ITALY 17 IRELAND 28, Stadio Flaminio, Rome

Scorers: Italy: Martin Castrogiovanni; Pens: Luciano Orquera, Roland De Marigny 3; Ireland: Tries: Geordan Murphy, Peter Stringer, Denis Hickie; Cons: Ronan O’Gara 2; Pens: O’Gara 3

…Scrum half Peter Stringer glided over for a try in the left corner after 49 minutes of this Six Nations clash – Ireland’s most recent visit to Rome. Ronan O’Gara converted it for a 15-9 lead and Ireland went on to win 28-17 with O’Gara adding two more penalties and Denis Hickie notching a 76th-minute converted try. Geordan Murphy grabbed his 14th Test try in the first half. Tighthead prop John Hayes led Ireland out in Rome on the occasion of his 50th cap…

2003 SIX NATIONS: February 22, 2003

ITALY 13 IRELAND 37, Stadio Flaminio, Rome

Scorers: Italy: Try: Denis Dallan; Con: Ramiro Pez; Pens: Diego Dominguez, Pez; Ireland: Tries: Peter Stringer, John Kelly, David Humphreys, Brian O’Driscoll, Geordan Murphy; Cons: Humphreys 3; Pens: Humphreys 2

…Captain Brian O’Driscoll knifed through the Italian cover to grab his 18th Test try and become Ireland’s record try-scorer, beating the previous best set by his fellow Blackrock College clubman Brendan Mullin (17). Italy looked like dangerous opponents coming off the back of a 30-22 defeat of Wales the previous week, but tries from Peter Stringer, John Kelly, David Humphreys, who claimed the man of the match award, O’Driscoll and Geordan Murphy saw Ireland to a comfortable win…

2001 SIX NATIONS: February 3, 2001

ITALY 22 IRELAND 41, Stadio Flaminio, Rome

Scorers: Italy: Tries: Corrado Pilat, Carlo Checchinato, Mauro Bergamasco; Cons: Ramiro Pez 2; Pen: Pez; Ireland: Tries: Rob Henderson 3, Shane Horgan, Ronan O’Gara; Cons: O’Gara 2; Pens: O’Gara 4

…Ireland won 41-22 in a game which will always be remember for the brilliant hat-trick of tries scored by centre Rob Henderson, whose performances in the tournament helped earn him a seat on the Lions plane to Australia that summer. It was Ireland’s first win on Italian soil and first win in a Five or Six Nations opener since 1988 – Ronan O’Gara and Shane Horgan also touched down for the visitors with O’Gara ending his 80 minutes with a handsome tally of 21 points…

MATCH FACTS: * The IRFU was the first of the Home Unions to officially award caps for Tests against Italy. The first clash in 1988 saw the Irish triumph 31-15 on New Year’s Eve in Dublin

* Last year’s 26-16 win at Lansdowne Road was Ireland’s tenth victory over the Italians. All of the Azzurri’s three successes in the series have arrived in friendlies

* August 2003 saw Eddie O’Sullivan’s men post the record for most tries and most points scored in the fixture. Denis Hickie notched a record four of Ireland’s eight tries at Thomond Park, as the home side ran out 61-6 winners

* Veteran scrum half Alessandro Troncon, who is back in the fold this season after two years out of the international scene, was on the field when Italy chalked up their biggest wins against Ireland – 37-29 and 37-22 results in both Dublin and Bologna, in 1997

* If selected to play this weekend, the 33-year-old Troncon will be making a record 11th appearance in this fixture – Paul Griffen was Italy’s scrum half for last year’s meeting. Troncon made his Test debut when Ireland’s Peter Stringer was only 16.

* Ronan O’Gara holds the record for most points scored by an individual in this tie. The Munster out-half bagged 30 – a Six Nations record – in 2000’s 60-13 win for Ireland at Lansdowne Road. His haul of six penalties and six conversions beat out Paul Burke’s 1997 best of 24

LEGENDS ON THE MARCH TO ROME: The Irish Legends rugby team, captained by Mick Galwey, have a date in Rome this Friday as they take on their Italian counterparts. The Legends match takes place at Frascati rugby club on Friday with a 6.30pm kick-off (local time) – www.frascati.it

The following squad has been provisionally named for the trip: Gary Leslie, John McDonald, Stephen Richie, Angus McKeen, Len Dineen, Brian Rigney, Ger Earls, Mick Galwey (capt), Fergal O’Beirne, Greg Tuohy, Andy Matchett, Jon Garth, Jim Galvin, Ben Cronin, Robin Morrow, Christian Saverimutto, Des Jackson, Alan McGowan, John O’Neill, Derek McAleese, Jack Clarke, Ronnie Carey, Darragh O’Mahoney.

Former Young Munster and Munster flanker Ger Earls might be a bit preoccupied in the lead-up to Friday’s clash as his son Keith will be lining out that afternoon in an Irish Under-20 side that is on the cusp of a Grand Slam. The U-20s face Italy in Benevento at 2.30pm local time.

– For further information on the Legends, please visit www.irishlegendsrugby.ie


“It is possibly the best team they have had in quite a number of years. They’re probably a bit more balanced now – they have players all over the park who contribute to the overall strength of the side, and even the lesser-known guys bring a physicality and passion to the game, particularly in Rome.”

– Winger Shane Horgan gives his opinion on the Italian team that Ireland will come face-to-face with on Saturday

“It’s incredible. We have proved today that we can play just as well at home and away.

“This is the result of all the hard work we have done in the last year. I’m really proud of what we have achieved in front of our home fans. Now we have one week to train for our next game against Ireland and we expect to finish in style.”

– Italian number 8 Sergio Parisse, who walked away with the RBS man of the match award against Wales, gives his view on the dramatic 23-20 defeat of the Dragons and next weekend’s finale against Ireland

“It was the first time we started together so that was a special part of the day. The opportunity was going to come at some stage but it was great that it came today and I am proud for mum and dad.

“I was happy to get a start. It obviously happened at the last minute but you have to be ready to step in having prepared all week.”

– Ulster prop Simon Best talks about Saturday’s win for Ireland over Scotland which saw him start alongside his brother Rory in the Irish front row for the first time


3 – The average number of tries Ireland have scored in their five Six Nations meetings with Italy during the Eddie O’Sullivan era

4 – The number of Grand Slam wins there have been since the Five Nations became the Six Nations championship in 2000 – France (2002 and 2004), England (2003) and Wales (2005) all had 100% records in those years

6 – The number of tries Ireland winger Denis Hickie has scored in six appearances against Italy. He touched down four times in the 2003 World Cup warm-up win over the Azzurri at Thomond Park