Ireland vs Italy: Away Woe or the Upset of the Season?

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TournamentSix Nations
TimetableSunday 27th of February at 15:00 GMT
PredictionIreland to Win
OddsIreland to Win @ 1.001
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Slingshots at the ready and stones sharpened? This is going to be another David vs Goliath encounter for Italy, as they travel to the Aviva Stadium to take on Ireland in the third round of the Guinness Six Nations 2022. Given Italy's history in the competition, you might be wondering why I am writing a 6 Nations betting prediction about this match. 'Do Italy even deserve to be in the Six Nations?' you may hear some ask. Well, were Argentina not in the same position in the Four Nations years ago? Now look at how much success they have had!

Regardless of opinions on the structure of the Six Nations and the teams involved, there is still a lot to speak about, in terms of this game, so I will dive right in.

ireland-italy-six-nations-rugby

Background on Ireland vs Italy Rugby

Italy may have only joined the Six Nations in 2000, but the history of the first Ireland vs Italy match dates back to 1988, when Ireland won 31-15. There have been a total of 33 matches between the two sides, with Ireland claiming 29 wins and Italy managing to grab four. That's a pretty big divide between the two nations, and based on this history alone, nobody would give Italy a fighting chance, going into this clash. With that being said, I think we should check out if there are any other factors that can shed a light on Italy's third-week match.

First Weeks' Results

Ireland and Italy are diametrically opposed when it comes to historical results, but I want to look at how recent affairs may offer a different picture than the Irish streamroller crushing the Italians into smithereens. Let's take a look at how both teams fared in the first weeks.

Ireland Results

MatchScoreWinner
Ireland vs Wales29-7Ireland
France vs Ireland30-24France

Italy Results

MatchScoreWinner
France vs Italy37-10France
Italy vs England0-33England

Analysis of Results

I hoped to provide some interesting morsels about how Italy have pulled out impressive performances in the first rounds and how Ireland may not be up to snuff at usual. That is not the case. Italy are still in their usual woeful form in the Six Nations, and Ireland have been fairly solid so far. All in all, this is looking to be another in a long line of losses for Italy.

Performance in the 2021 Six Nations

If you do not know the score from last year and know a little about rugby, you will not be surprised to learn that the result was 48-10. Even playing at home in the City of Love, Italy could not muster more than a shabby 10 points. I can see the same sort of thrashing happening again, only with happy home fans this time, as the action takes place at the Aviva.

World Rankings

Like the rankings or not, I think it is always important to have a look at the official standings, as they do provide at least a little insight into the relative strengths of two nations. With that in mind, let's have a peek at the top 10 in the table, to see how Ireland and Italy match up.

World RankingCountry
1South Africa
2New Zealand
3England
4France
5Ireland
6Australia
7Scotland
8Wales
9Argentina
10Japan

If you are wondering where Italy is, there is no mistake: they are not in the top 10. They are, in fact, currently ranked 14th in the world, and are the only Six-Nations side not to feature in the above list. Ireland, on the other hand, are deservedly in the top five - especially after wins against Argentina and the All Blacks in the Autumn Internationals series - so the difference in quality is night and day on paper. Things are looking more and more that they are going to go Ireland's way, and it is going to take some miracle for them to bridge the gap.

The Human Factors

If Ireland look to be the winner even before the starting whistle, let's take a look at some of the factors that may affect the game and give the scoreboard at least a modicum of Italian dignity.

The 16th Man: The Effect of the Home Crowd at the Aviva Stadium

Normally, I would say that the home advantage plays a huge role in big games, but there lies the truth of the matter: this is not a big game by Irish standards. Fans of Ireland rugby will be in full cheer for the boys in green the whole match, but it will likely make little difference to the score, as Ireland were already able to stick 48 points to 10 on the board in last year's competition, and that was playing away. Whilst the home advantage will be minimal this year, though, at least the atmosphere will be electric for those fans that are able to attend.

The Styles of the Head Coaches

As a last-ditch attempt to find any kind of balance between the two sides, I am going to take a look at the Head Coaches. Maybe something about the leadership can offer us a new perspective.

Andy Farrell

Farrell is a former dual-code rugby international, and he has coached at Saracens, Munster, England, the British and Irish Lions, and now Ireland. Some argue that Ireland's main man has benefitted from Joe Schmidt's tenure, prior, but Andy Farrell has made the role his own. The results also speak for themselves. It is no wonder that he is in the top-ten highest paid list for rugby union.

Kieran Crowley

Crowley was born in Kaponga, New Zealand. He played for Taranaki in his youth and went on to be a part of the All Blacks squad that won the 1987 Rugby World Cup. In terms of his coaching career, he went back to old club Taranaki in 1998, and then took the New Zealand U19s to winning the Junior World Cup in 2007. He brings a wealth of experience to the head job with Italy, but even from the off has stated that changing the bigger picture with Italy is going to take a huge amount of time.

My Ireland vs Italy Prediction Winner

What is there left to say that you probably do not already know? Italy are going to get thumped, plain and simple. Ireland are going to give them another drumming that will likely be inconsequential in the grand scheme of the Six Nations. I hope that Kieran Crowley will be able to bring something new to the fore for Italy in coming years. For now, though? There's a reason why there are such short odds on the men in green. My prediction is for Ireland to win by a landslide.

Steven Brown - Rugby Coach and Writer

steven-brown

This prediction was written by Steven Brown.

Steven grew up in the football-mad town of Cannock, Staffordshire, in the UK, but he was introduced to rugby at the age of 11. He was a keen player in his youth, and went on to set up a successful sports agency, working with rugby stars such as Leicester legend and England captain, Martin Corry.

Steven’s great love for the game has also led him to exemplary coaching success, having coached men’s and youth teams in the UK, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Malta. Two of his personal highlights from his time coaching came in the form of having six All Blacks lead a one-and-a-half-hour coaching and QA session for an U14s team he had helped to set up and a Best Coaches conference where he had the privilege of talking rugby with a coaching idol of his, Graham Henry. Steven is now pursuing his love of coaching once more, back in the UK.

You can follow Steven Brown on his Linkedin.

Ireland to Win