When I looked at the Six Nations stats a couple of weeks ago, I thought it would be worth having a look at how much Italy have improved since they entered the Six Nations.
Below is a table with their final standings for every season since 2000.
Strangely for a side that is improving, they are scoring fewer points than they did at the start: however, they’re also conceding much fewer. This is reflecting a general trend for fewer points scored overall in the championship (in 2000 there were 53 points scored per game, and now there are 35).From this, we can already see an improvement, despite frequently finishing last. They’ve got into the habit of winning at least one game per championship, and have now beaten every other side except England.
In terms of their results against specific teams, the below graphs show Italy’s results over time for home and away records. The vertical axis represents the score differential (positive means Italy won, negative means Italy loss), and horizontal axis is the year (earliest on the left, latest on the right).
Generally, these graphs are going upwards (with the exception of Wales), despite particularly sore periods against France and England (against home they seem to have hit a plateau), which suggests they are certainly finding their form.
Away from home, however, the picture is slightly different- their record against Scotland is getting progressively worse (barring the huge 37-17 win in 2007) and the record against the others, except England, is roughly level.
But, overall, Italy should be pleased with their progress so far, and are rightly being taken more seriously than the whipping boys they were at the start. That elusive England win will come eventually, and given the right group of players, and a bit more bottle away from home, a top 3 finish in the next few years isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.