Since its inclusion in the Tournament in 2000, Italy has been the subject of debate. The question is recurring: does the Nazionale have its place in the flagship competition of European rugby? Before this 2024 edition of the Six Nations, the record was heavy: 13 victories, 1 draw and 106 defeats. Voices are regularly put forward for the establishment of a relegation-accession system with the B Tournament which brings together Georgia in particular, some of whom are campaigning for its integration into the higher level. Vain discussions since the Six Nations Committee defends Italy tooth and nail, which offers much greater economic guarantees, particularly in terms of television rights.

Now onto the pitch. The Nazionale is doing better, much better. On the last day of the 2022 Tournament, Italy won in Cardiff against Wales (21-22), after a crazy race from Ange Capuozzo concluded with a try from Edoardo Padovani. Superb and moving explosion of joy from the Transalpines, who put an end to 40 defeats in a row, in seven years, in the competition. In the process, the autumn tour of the Transalpines confirmed the improvement: despite an embarrassing setback in Georgia in July (28-19), Italy, for the first time in its history, brought down Australia to autumn (28-27).

This spectacular comeback – which began with good results among the U20s – was brutally overshadowed during the last World Cup in France, where the Nazionale players were heavily beaten by the All Blacks (96-17) then the Blues (60-7), during the group stage. Brutal end to the improvement. Except that the arrival at the head of the Italian selection of Gonzalo Quesada, well known in France for having notably coached the Stade Français Paris (2025 French champion), has re-boosted a team which counts in its ranks a golden generation, with the Ange Capuozzo, Paolo Garbisi, Tommaso Allan and a new kid, Louis Lynagh, son of Michael, the former Wallabies icon.

The revival took place this Saturday in a sold-out Olympic Stadium in Rome. Italy ended two long black streaks against Scotland: before its success against the XV du Chardon (31-29), its last victory in the Six Nations dates back to March 2022 and its last success at home in the competition dated from March 2013 against Ireland (22-15). In this same edition, the team then coached by Jacques Brunel also beat France (23-18) and obtained its best result in the competition with a 4th place.

This year, the Transalpins could do even better, at least as well (they are 4th), since they have already brought back a draw from Lille against France (13-13) and could even have won if Garbisi does not had not missed his last penalty in incredible conditions. Gonzalo Quesada, a perfectionist but extremely humble, refuses to take the blame for himself: “This victory is great, but I haven’t transformed anything, I have supported work that had already started, the Italian Federation is doing good job and she’s on the right track.”

And the Argentinian technician, former fly-half for the Pumas (best director of the 1999 World Cup), added: “I am lucky to have a group that is hungry, that has a lot of desire, that gives itself always 100%. You just have to guide them and since the first day, my role has been to convince them that we can play for eighty minutes at a high level and high intensity. His captain Michele Lamaro nevertheless recognizes that “since Gonzalo has been here, we have prepared matches with a lot of attention and concentration”.

Also read: “Producing an attractive game and having a friendly team”: Gonzalo Quesada’s new Italian challenge

Against the Chardon XV, the Italians did not experience any air gaps, their recurring problem. On the contrary, they were able to gain momentum and maintain their efforts. Louis Lynagh first pierced the Scottish defense by recovering a bright opening at the foot of Garbisi (44th, 21-22), before scoring a third try scored by Varney (56th minute) and resisting the return of the Highlands players .

“We haven’t won anything, this victory is just a stage,” proclaims Gonzalo Quesada. We only won one match, it’s not a final. I already know what we can improve and I will have a lot to show the players on Monday. The Tournament is not over, we still have opportunities to do well and I don’t want to let them pass us by.” There remains one last match, in Cardiff, next Saturday (3:15 p.m.) against Wales. To avoid finishing in 6th and last place in the Tournament as in the last eight editions. But it seems to be going well…