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Italy record their best ever Six Nations campaign with a 24-21 win over Wales

IN A NAIL-BITING finale to the 2024 Six Nations campaign, Italy clinched a historic victory over Wales at Cardiff, edging out the hosts 24-21. This victory not only secured Italy their best ever finish in the Six Nations but also handed Warren Gatland’s Welsh side the wooden spoon, marking their first bottom-place finish in 21 years.

The match was a rollercoaster of emotions, with Italy demonstrating their growth and newfound resilience throughout the tournament. From the onset, Paolo Garbisi set the tone with an early penalty, a sign of the pressure Italy was to consistently apply. The Italians built a significant 11-0 lead by halftime, courtesy of a try from Monty Ioane and a steady boot from Garbisi.

Wales, desperate to avoid the ignominy of a whitewash in the tournament, fought back in the second half. Tries from Dee and Rowlands, along with Lloyd’s conversions, brought them within striking distance. However, Italy’s composure under pressure, highlighted by critical scores from Pani and the consistent kicking of Garbisi, kept them ahead.

Despite a late surge from Wales, epitomized by Grady’s try in the 82nd minute, Italy held on for a memorable victory. Michele Lamaro, Italy’s captain, encapsulated the sentiment of a nation proud and optimistic about their rugby future, thanking every Italian supporter for their unwavering faith in the team.

This victory was not just about the scoreline; it was a statement from an Italian side that has long been viewed as the underdogs of Six Nations rugby. They finished the tournament with two wins, a draw, and two losses, a record that speaks volumes of their progress and potential.

Wales, on the other hand, face a period of introspection and rebuilding. Dafydd Jenkins, the Welsh captain, acknowledged the disappointment but stressed the need to rise from these setbacks. Warren Gatland, a coach renowned for his successes with Wales, now faces one of his most challenging periods, tasked with revitalizing a team that has fallen from its previous heights.

The match in Cardiff was a testament to the unpredictable and thrilling nature of the Six Nations, offering a perfect blend of drama, skill, and passion that encapsulates the spirit of rugby. As Italy celebrates a historic campaign, Wales contemplates the road ahead, ensuring that the next edition of the Six Nations is eagerly anticipated.