Italian Rugby has experienced somewhat of a mini-renaissance over the past few seasons.
Whilst many could argue the only way was up for the Azzurri given their historic run of losses over a decade plus.
The work done by head coach Kieran Crowley as well as that done by Franco Smith and Conor O’Shea before him, has laid a foundation for an exciting generation of Italian up-and-comers.
Thus, the Italian Rugby Union’s decision not to renew Crowley’s contract post-World Cup is head-scratching, to say the least.
Whilst Crowley will be departing at the conclusion of the World Cup, one man who Italian Rugby will hope has another decade of service in him is Toulouse star Ange Capuozzo.
The 24-year-old fullback is possibly the most exciting Italian back since the turn of the millennium and has become a real point of difference for the Azzurri.
A nippy runner, exceptional kicker and world-class distributor, Capuozzo’s combination with flyhalf Paolo Garbisi has unlocked what is now a potent Italian attack.
Making his return from a lengthy injury lay-off over the weekend, Capuozzo didn’t miss a beat as Italy put Romania to the sword 57 – 7.
Although defeating Romania is now a foregone conclusion for the Italians, it was the manner in which they did so that was impressive.
Utilising a wide range of attacking skills through both their backs and forwards, Crowley’s side played a truly 15-man brand of rugby.
To the fore was Capuozzo, who scored a simply sublime individual try that will surely have boosted his confidence ahead of what will be a brutally tough World Cup.
Facing France and New Zealand in pool play, Italy will need Capuozzo to be at his absolute best for the Azzurri to cause the upset and progress to a quarterfinal.
Whilst by no means a highlight match from the weekend.
Seeing Ange Capuozzo back for Italy in time for the World Cup was fantastic.
— Philip Bendon (@PBendon) August 22, 2023