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6 of the greatest Six Nations upsets

Scotland, France and Ireland all fell victims to an Italian job

Italy fans didn't have long to wait for their first win when they joined the tournament in 2000
1 of 1

Italy 34 Scotland 20

Round one, 2000

Italy entered the tournament at the start of the new millennium, making the old Five Nations six, and boy, did they start with a bang.

The Azzurri were 16-point underdogs in Rome for their debut outing having finished the 1999 Rugby World Cup bottom of their pool without a win and suffered a 101-3 battering from New Zealand.

But legendary fly-half Diego Dominguez kicked 29 points against the Scots, including his conversion of prop Giampiero de Carli’s injury-time try, to get the newcomers off to a dream start. Scotland coach Gregor Townsend was Dominguez’s opposite number that day.

Italy had to wait three years for their next victory - a 30-22 success over Wales in 2003.

Scotland 19 England 13

Round five, 2000

If the 2000 Six Nations started badly for Scotland, it ended with a dream victory over the auld enemy.

England were bidding for a Grand Slam, just as they had done 12 months earlier when they were stunned by Wales at Wembley.

Bookmakers rated Clive Woodward’s men up to 24-point favourites against the winless Scots, but it turned into a horrible case of deja vu for England.

Scotland earned their first tournament win over England since 1991's famous Grand Slam decider.

England 13 Ireland 19

Round three, 2004

England went into the 2004 tournament as world champions and the number one side in the world, although without the retired Martin Johnson and injured Jonny Wilkinson.

They opened with impressive wins over Italy and Scotland to go odds-on for the title but came unstuck against the shrewd kicking game and dominant line-out of 21-point underdogs Ireland.

It was England’s first competitive game at Twickenham since they lifted the World Cup and was also their first defeat at home since 1999. 

Ireland had lost their opening game to France, who went on to land a Grand Slam, but that was their only defeat as they took second spot and a Triple Crown.

Scotland 17 Italy 37

Round three, 2007

Italy kicked off their eighth tournament with a total of just three wins to their name, all at home, and they were given an 11-point start for this assignment at Murrayfield.

So the Azzurri weren’t the biggest underdogs but it was the manner of their victory that was so astonishing as they plundered three tries in the first six minutes to storm into a 21-0 lead.

The boot of Andrea Scanavacca kept them ticking over as the Scots tried to fight their way back but a fourth try from Alessandro Troncon five minutes from the end ensured Italy’s first away victory was an emphatic one.

Italy went on to beat Wales at home the following week to win two matches in the same tournament for the first time.

Italy 22 France 21

Round four, 2011

Italy were beginning to prove themselves obdurate opponents, especially at home, by the time the Six Nations entered its second decade.

Ireland needed a drop goal two minutes from time to scrape past them 13-11 in the first round and the Azzurri then lost 24-16 at home to Wales.

What was missing was a win - the Azzurri had racked up a total of two in the last three campaigns, both against Scotland - and it didn’t seem likely it would arrive against defending Grand Slam champions France, especially as Italy had made seven changes, possibly with an eye on a potential wooden spoon decider against Scotland in their final game.

Italy were 17-point underdogs and things looked ominous as they trailed 18-6 with half an hour to go, and two missed penalties from Mirco Bergamasco had the fervent Rome crowd believing it wasn’t going to be their day.

But a try from Andrea Masi and the boot of Bergamasco gave Italy their biggest scalp to date.

Italy 22 Ireland 15

Round five, 2013

Ireland started the 2013 Six Nations well with a win over Wales in Cardiff but it went downhill from there and they arrived in Rome with still only that one win to their name.

Italy had opened with a victory over France and were awarded a modest seven-point handicap as they looked to gain a landmark first victory over the Irish.

It was nervy and nip-and-tuck for the first 40 minutes, but Giovanbattista Venditti grabbed the only try of the match early in the second half and it proved enough as the teams exchanged penalties but Ireland couldn’t find a way to the line.

Ireland finished in their lowest position of fifth, avoiding the wooden spoon on points difference and much of the talk around the game was whether this would be Brian O’Driscoll’s last match in an Ireland shirt. But he hung on for another year and was rewarded with a Six Nations title in Joe Schmidt’s first campaign as coach.


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If the 2000 Six Nations started badly for Scotland, it ended with a dream victory over the auld enemy
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