Boks should have the beating of a weak Italian team

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Padua — Ordinarily South Africa wouldn’t have much in common with Fiji.

Defeat at the hands of Italy‚ the only victories the Azzurri have been able to muster over the last 12 months‚ however‚ connect the pair and in the case of the Springboks it was ignominious.

Italy’s record elsewhere has been appalling.

Even Tonga beat them a mere week after they downed the Boks a year ago.

It had been hoped here that Irishman and former Harlequins director of rugby Conor O’Shea would lift the country’s flagging rugby fortunes‚ but he too has found the going tough.

Despite the team’s poor performances over the last year‚ O’Shea still boasts a better win percentage than his two immediate predecessors.

Under Nick Mallett the Azzurri won 21.4% of their Tests‚ while Jacquel Brunel continued in much the same vein with a return of 22%.

That stands in stark contrast to Frenchman Pierre Berbizier’s 40% win ratio‚ while in the three and a half years he coached Italy from the start of 1990 compatriot Bertrande Fourcade established a win percentage of 59.3.

Italy are well off those standards. In their last 12 Tests they’ve conceded 46 tries and scored just 17. Ireland ran nine past them in Rome earlier this year en route to scoring 63 points.

Despite the general underachievement‚ it is their most recent performance against the Springboks by which the Green and Gold’s fans measure Italy.

Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth Picture: Moeletsi Mabe, The Times

It can‚ however‚ be reasonably argued the Italy’s have remained more of less the same over the last year‚ while the Springboks aren’t quite the rabble they were a year ago.

Their win against France a week ago would have lifted spirits slightly‚ although it was a win against a mediocre French team.

Still‚ they should have the beating of an even weaker Italian team and drive home the point that last year’s defeat was an aberration.

by Liam Del Carme – TimesLIVE

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