Concluding our look at the history of Welsh coaches in the Five and Six Nations, this week we look at Wales’s results against Italy in the Championship. With Italy only joining the tournament for its expansion in 2000, this week’s article is a far more simple affair.
A quick reminder before we start, this series only looks at Six Nations games and does not consider any games with Italy outside of this competition.
Full record of Welsh coaches against Italy in the Six Nations (2000 to 2021)
Our previous columns dealt with Welsh Championship results since the first head coach was appointed in 1968. They showed that Wales have a 47.17% win rate against Ireland in this period (25 wins, 3 draws, 25 losses), a 64.81% success rate against Scotland (35 wins, 1 draw, 18 losses), 48.15% success rate against England (26 wins, 2 draws, 26 losses) and a 38.89% win rate against France (21 wins, 2 draws, 31 losses). Wales’s win rate against Italy since 2000 sits at 86.36% (19 wins, 1 draw, 2 losses).
Last week’s column revealed that only France have a better Championship title collection that Wales in the coaching era. Italy, of course, are the only side in the Six Nations to have never won the tournament, meaning the title stats are incredibly one sided in this match up.
WALES in the Six Nations era (2000-2021)
- Championships: 6 – 2005, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2019, 2021
- Shared Championships: (N/A)
- Grand Slams: 4 – 2005, 2008, 2012, 2019
- Triple Crowns: 5 – 2005, 2008, 2012, 2019, 2021
- Championships: 0
- Shared Championships: (N/A)
- Grand Slams: 0
- Triple Crowns: (N/A)
Gatland again top dog as Hansen, Johnson and Jenkins prop up the table
As he did against Scotland, against Italy Warren Gatland again holds a 100% win rate over ten games. This time, though, Gatland is one of five other coaches to also hold a pure win rate over the Italians, even if they have overseen far fewer games.
Gatland’s record is even more impressive when you consider he was famous for sometimes changing most of his team when facing Italy — even in Grand Slam campaigns. And while some may not find this too impressive, considering how weak Italy have been in recent years, it’s worth noting how Wales traditionally struggle when making wholesale changes in Autumn Internationals.
Graham Henry, Robert Howley, Wayne Pivac (all with two wins) and Mike Ruddock (one win) are the other coaches on 100% in this fixture.
Once again, the man that could win a fair bit with the talent in New Zealand, Steve Hansen, has a less than stellar record in a Six Nations match up.
Hansen was in the hot seat when Wales fell to their first loss to Italy back in 2003 (link to Facebook highlights of match here, the only ones we could find, sorry). This was the match which led to Colin Charvis being listed as the second most hated man in Wales. If you’re wondering, Osama Bin Laden beat him in the poll. After Gatland, no other Welsh coach has faced Italy as often in the Championship as Hansen (three games).
Gareth Jenkins led Wales to their only other defeat to the Italians in 2007. This was the game with the infamous gaffe by referee Chris White who informed Wales they had time to kick for the corner and have a line-out, and then blew for full time when they did so. He subsequently apologised. Wales, though, were so dreadful in that period it was far from an undeserved result.
Finally, temporary coach Scott Johnson, who took over after Mike Ruddock’s sudden departure during the 2006 campaign (and most likely played a big part in that happening in the first place), didn’t manage to lose to the Italians, but did help guide Wales to a home draw.
Now, go forth and argue about all the numbers.
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An Illustrated History of Welsh Rugby: Fun, Facts and Stories from 140 Years of International Rugby – 2022 Revised and Updated Edition now available (Polaris Publishing)
How Wales Beat the Mighty All Blacks (Y Lolfa)
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