We look at some of the facts and figures ahead of this weekend’s trio of Ireland v Italy Six Nations matches – the Under-20s’ enconter in Avezzano on Friday, Saturday’s showdown for the seniors in Rome and then the Women’s Grand Slam decider in Parabiago on St. Patrick’s Day.
RBS UNDER-20 6 NATIONS: Friday, March 15
ITALY UNDER-20s (6th) v IRELAND UNDER-20s (3rd), Stadio dei Marsi, Avezzano, 7pm local time/6pm Irish time (live RTÉ website)
– The Italy Under-20s have lost their last 14 matches at this level
– Italy’s only win in the tournament since 2008 remains their 9-7 victory over Scotland at Stirling in March 2011
– Italy are out to try and avoid a fourth whitewash in the last five years
– The Ireland Under-20s’ last seven matches have all been won by the home side on the day. Mike Ruddock’s youngsters have not been victorious on the road in the Championship since their trip to Scotland in round 2 last year
– Ireland have won all 19 previous matches against Italy at either Under-20 or Under-21 level
– Centre Tom Daly, who kicked five penalties and a conversion in a man-of-the-match performance against France, is the third top points scorer in the tournament with 40 points
ITALY U-20: Angelo Esposito (Benetton Treviso) (capt); David Michael Odiete (Zebre), Michele Campagnaro (Benetton Treviso), Andrea Bettin (Petrarca Padova), Filippo Guarducci (Marchiol Mogliano); Edoardo Padovani (Marchiol Mogliano), Marcello Violi (Crociati Rugby); Luca Scarsini (Cammi Calvisano), Alain Moriconi (UR Capitolina), Tiziano Pasquali (Leicester Tigers), Alessio Zdrilich (Cammi Calvisano), Michele Andreotti (Cammi Calvisano), Andrea Trotta (Nuova Rugby Roma), Vittorio Marazzi (Crociati Rugby), Maxime Mbanda’ (Rugby Grande Milano).
Replacements: Luca Conti (L’Aquila Rugby), Cherif Traore (Rugby Viadana), Rudy Biancotti (Valtellina Rugby Sondalo), Giacomo Riedo (Zhermack Badia), Gianmarco Vian (M-Three San Donà), Simone Marinaro (Fiamme Oro), Filippo Buscema (UR Capitolina), Giovanni Benvenuti (Marchiol Mogliano).
IRELAND U-20: Darragh Leader (Galwegians/Connacht); Darren Sweetnam (UCC/Munster), Tom Daly (Lansdowne/Leinster), Rory Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), Rory Scholes (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster); Steve Crosbie (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) (capt); Peter Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), John Andrew (Ballymena/Ulster), Ryan Furniss (Worcester Warriors/Exiles), Sean McCarthy (Shannon/Munster), John Donnan (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Conor Joyce (Malone/Ulster), Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster), Ryan Murphy (Dolphin/Munster).
Replacements: Bryan Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Adam Boland (Lansdowne/Leinster), Brian Scott (UCC/Munster), Jerry Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Peadar Timmins (UCD/Leinster), David Shanahan (Clontarf/Leinster), Eogháin Quinn (Lansdowne/Leinster), David Panther (Corinthians/Connacht).
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant Referees: Arnaud Blondel, Cédric Clavé (both France)
Television Match Official: Philippe Bonhoure (France)
RBS 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Saturday, March 16
ITALY (5th) v IRELAND (4th), Stadio Olimpico, 3.30pm local time/2.30pm Irish time (live RTÉ Two/BBC One)
STATS & FACTS
– The only previous time that Italy have won two games during an RBS 6 Nations campaign was in 2007. They have won in round 5 just twice before: both against Scotland in 2008 and 2012
– Italy have a won 2, lost 2 record in the RBS 6 Nations at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico
– Ireland are winless in their last three RBS 6 Nations encounters – their worst run in Six Nations history
– Declan Kidney’s men have won only one of their last ten away Test matches over the past two years
– Ireland have won all 13 previous fixtures against Italy in the RBS 6 Nations, and have not lost a Test match to the Azzurri since they visited Bologna in December 1997
ON THE PITCH
– Italy have averaged more carries per game (127) than any other side in the tournament so far
– Italy have won a competition high 93% of scrums on their own feed after four rounds. Ireland, meanwhile, have won just 68% of their own scrums
– Despite recording just one win so far, Italy have enjoyed more possession (on average) than any other team in the tournament, 19:33 minutes
– Alessandro Zanni is the top offloader in the 2013 tournament with nine in the four matches so far
– Sean O’Brien is the top ball carrier in the RBS 6 Nations this season with 55 carries in all
– Donnacha Ryan has won the most lineouts of any player this campaign with 22
ITALY: Andrea Masi (London Wasps); Giovanbattista Venditti (Zebre), Gonzalo Canale (Stade Rochelais), Gonzalo Garcia (Zebre), Luke McLean (Benetton Treviso); Luciano Orquera (Zebre), Edoardo Gori (Benetton Treviso); Andrea Lo Cicero (Racing Metro 92), Leonardo Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso), Lorenzo Cittadini (Benetton Treviso), Quintin Geldenhuys (Zebre), Joshua Furno (Narbonne), Alessandro Zanni (Benetton Treviso), Simone Favaro (Benetton Treviso), Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais) (capt).
Replacements: Davide Giazzon (Zebre), Michele Rizzo (Benetton Treviso), Alberto de Marchi (Benetton Treviso), Antonio Pavanello (Benetton Treviso), Franceso Minto (Benetton Treviso), Paul Derbyshire (Benetton Treviso), Tobias Botes (Benetton Treviso), Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton Treviso).
IRELAND: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster), Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster), Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster), Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster); Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers/Connacht), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster), Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster) (capt).
Replacements: Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), David Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster), Stephen Archer (Cork Constitution/Munster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Paul Marshall (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster), Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster).
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Television Match Official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
WOMEN’S RBS 6 NATIONS: Sunday, March 17
ITALY WOMEN (5th) v IRELAND WOMEN (1st), Venegoni Stadium, Parabiago, Milan, 3pm local time/2pm Irish time (RTÉ Two/RTÉ website)
– The Italy Women have already beaten France and Scotland this season, but they have never won three matches in a Six Nations campaign
– Ireland have already secured a first ever Triple Crown and Women’s Six Nations title, and now they are going for a maiden Grand Slam
– The Ireland Women have lost just one of their last nine matches at this level: 23-6 to England at Esher last March
– Italy have beaten Ireland just once before, 13-5 in Nice in the FIRA Championship in April 1997
– Parabiago hosts its first Women’s Test match
– Ireland winger Alison Miller is out on her own as the top try scorer in this year’s Women’s Six Nations with five tries in four outings, including that famous hat-trick against defending champions England
– Miller’s back-three colleague, full-back Niamh Briggs, has scored 37 points so far (three tries, five conversions and four penalties), making her the leading scorer just ahead of Amber Reed from England (35 points)
ITALY WOMEN: Manuela Furlan (Benetton Treviso); Maria Diletta Veronese (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Michela Sillari (Rugby Colorno), Paola Zangirolami (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Maria Grazia Cioffi (Red&Blu Rugby); Veronica Schiavon (Sitam Riviera del Brenta), Sara Barattin (Rugby Casale); Marta Ferrari (Sitam Riviera del Brenta), Melissa Bettoni (Rugby Sassenage Isere), Lucia Gai (Sitam Riviera del Brenta), Cristina Molic (Sitam Riviera del Brenta), Alice Trevisan (Sitam Riviera del Brenta), Michela Este (Benetton Treviso), Silvia Gaudino (Rugby Monza 1949) (capt), Flavia Severin (Benetton Treviso).
Replacements: Debora Ballarini (Mustang Rugby Pesaro), Sara Zanon (Benetton Treviso), Awa Coulibaly (Rugby Monza 1949), Cecilia Zublena (Rugby Sassenage Isere), Ilaria Arrighetti (Rugby Monza 1949), Vanessa Chindamo (Rugby Monza 1949), Michela Tondinelli (Benetton Treviso), Sofia Stefan (Valsugana Rugby Padova).
IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Niamh Kavanagh (UL Bohemians/Munster), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond/Exile), Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (UWIC/Exile); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Gillian Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Mowden Park Sharks/Exile), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Exile), Joy Neville (UL Bohemians/Munster).
Replacements: Stacey-Lea Kennedy (City of Derry/Ulster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Lauren Day (Waterloo/Exile), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster), Laura Guest (Highfield/Munster), Amy Davis (Blackrock College/Ulster), Shannon Huston (Blackrock College/Leinster), Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster).
Referee: Clare Daniels (England)
Assistant Referees: Federica Guerzoni, Doranna de Carlini (both Italy)
– Compiled By SFMS Limited (Stuart Farmer Media Services)