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Italy’s five best performances under Andrea Di Giandomenico

Italy’s five best performances under Andrea Di Giandomenico

Women's Six Nations Championship Round 5, Aberavon RFC, Port Talbot, Wales 20/3/2016 Wales vs Italy Italy’s head coach Andrea Di Giandomenico Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Kevin Barnes

The installation of Andrea Di Giandomenico as head coach of the Azzurre in 2009 was a pivotal moment for women’s rugby in Italy.

Over the proceeding 13 years, Di Giandomenico was the brains behind countless record-breaking achievements, constantly pushing the boundaries of what was once thought impossible.

Di Giandomenico took charge of 93 Test matches with the national team since his first against Ireland in the 2010 Women’s Six Nations, winning 38 and drawing three.

Here we take a look at five of the Azzurre’s best performances under their former head coach.

2010 – Wales 15-19 Italy

Italy recorded one victory in their first three Women’s Six Nations campaigns, a 31-10 home win over Scotland in 2008.

In Di Giandomenico’s first Championship in charge two years later, Italy played out a tense 6-6 draw with Scots before travelling to south Wales for their closing match.

The visitors were on the back foot by the interval, trailing 12-0 after tries from Naomi Thomas and Non Evans.

But whatever Di Giandomenico told his team at half time worked a treat, with four-time national boxing champion Flavia Severin crossing twice in the first 15 minutes.

With the scores level, winger Maria Diletta Veronese ran in the winner within minutes of Severin’s second and the Azzurre held on for their first away win in the Women’s Six Nations.

2015 – Italy 17-12 France

The 2015 Women’s Six Nations was a watershed moment for Italian rugby.

Never had an Italian women’s or men’s side finished higher than fourth in a Championship and going into week four, the feat appeared improbable with Italy sat on one win in three.

Next up were champions France who were set for back-to-back Grand Slams if they could conquer the Italians and English in their final two games.

But Di Giandomenico’s players were spoiling for a shock in Rovigo and got the perfect start when Maria Magatti dotted down inside five minutes.

Julie Billes crossed to level the scores soon after and towards the end of the first half Sofia Stefan and Caroline Boujard traded tries to leave it all to play for after the break.

France dominated possession and territory in the second half but with Jessy Trémoulière unable to convert a pair of penalties, the stage was set for Magatti to snatch the match in the last minute with a dive into the corner.

Italy went on to claim a 22-5 victory over Wales and the French lost the title to Ireland on points difference, despite winning away at eight-time champions England.

2017 – Italy 20-15 Spain

After failing to qualify for the World Cup in 2010 and 2014, Italy were back in the big time for their first tournament since 2002.

Their return didn’t go according to plan at first, losing all three pool matches to England, the United States and Spain.

2017 Women's Rugby World Cup Pool B, UCD Bowl, UCD 17/8/2017 Italy vs Spain Italy's Sara Barattin scores a try despite the efforts of Iera Echebarria of Spain Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

But when the time came to make amends in the ninth-place play-off, Di Giandomenico’s women turned the tables on Las Leonas in an extra-time thriller.

With the full-time scores locked at 15-15 thanks to a last-gasp try from Spain’s Irea Etxebarria, Italy rallied and captain Sara Barattin crossed on 89 minutes to secure Italy’s best-ever finish in the World Cup.

2019 – Italy 31-12 France

A strong contender for Italy’s greatest-ever result, this bonus-point victory in week five confirmed Italy’s second place finish in the 2019 Women’s Six Nations.

Di Giandomenico’s first two wins over France, in 2013 and 2015, were closely-fought contests, settled by one and five points respectively.

But this latest triumph in Padua was an exhibition in attacking rugby with the Azzurre running home four tries from Sofia Stefan, Melissa Betonni, Beatrice Rigoni and Manuela Furlan.

Three penalties from Italy’s leading points scorer in the Women’s Six Nations, Michela Sillari, kept the scoreboard ticking over in the second half and gazumped France into an historic second-place finish.

2022 – Italy 22-10 United States

In Di Giandomenico’s second and final World Cup in charge of Italy, he faced a tough challenge to progress from a Pool B that included two of the world’s top six: USA and Canada.

But the Azzurre’s opening match against the 1991 champions, a side they had never beaten, set them up for a record-breaking run to the quarter-finals.

(Photo by Fiona Goodall - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Italy were behind in the third minute when Tallie Taufo’ou surged over, a five-point gap they could not overcome until the stroke of half-time when Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi dotted down in the corner.

A second-half brace of tries from Aura Muzzo sandwiched an effort from Jenny Kronish and Magatti matched fellow winger Muzzo’s weaving runs with a superb fourth to put a seal on a memorable day in Whangarei.