In the past, a visit to Italy was a welcome respite for Wales during a Six Nations campaign. It was an opportunity to relax, improve their points tally, and prepare for tougher challenges.
However, this year is different as the Italians are the favorites, and Warren Gatland’s team is seeking redemption after a humiliating loss in Cardiff last year and a disastrous start to their Six Nations campaign, their worst since 2007.
This championship has been a nightmare for Wales, with off-field chaos and uncertainty mirrored in their on-field performance. They suffered a defeat at home to Ireland, a hammering at Murrayfield, and an outmuscled performance against England at the Principality Stadium.
The team, fans, and Gatland know that the situation can worsen. A first Six Nations whitewash in 20 years is a real possibility, and the Rugby World Cup in France is just six months away.
While the players will aim to restore pride after last year’s defeat to Italy, avoiding an unwanted record and starting the journey to recovery is the primary objective.
Winning in Rome is the top priority as Gatland admits that his team is battling to avoid finishing last. However, losing to Italy will likely result in finishing bottom of the championship table, a position they last occupied in 2003.
A loss will also lead to Wales’ worst-ever position in the world rankings. The stakes are high, and the team must step up and avoid a catastrophic outcome.