Italy - Kingmakers?

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Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by robbo277 on Wed 14 Mar 2018, 9:31 am

Bonus points.

My often-repeated argument for is that under a points difference system, beating Italy by 60 points is twice as impressive as beating Italy by 30 points, which in rugby terms, I'm not sure whether it is.

Italy have never won the Six Nations. They're best finish is 4th. They have 13 wooden spoons, have suffered 8 whitewashes (to be 9 if the fail to beat Scotland this weekend) and have only a handful of wins over their time in the tournament. They are not and have never been Championship contenders.

But how often have they been Kingmakers? With all the times the Championship has been decided on points difference, how often has it come down to one team piling on Italy and securing the Championship? If we treat every tournament as an old 5 Nations with a friendly against Italy on the bye-week, does this change the Championships won?

Looking at each tournament in turn:

In 2000 - England won outright. As none of the teams finishing on 6 points lost to Italy, removing Italy's results would have no effect on the Championship.

In 2001 - England won on points difference, but the margin of 109 was wider than their 67 point victory over Italy.

In 2002 to 2005 - we had 4 Grand Slams. Nothing would change by removing Italy's results

In 2006 - France won on points difference. They were +29 better off than Ireland. Removing results against Italy, this reduces to +14, but still gives France a win on points difference.

In 2007 - France again won on points difference in the first "close" tournament finish, only bettering Ireland by +4 points. France beat Italy by 36 points in week one. Ireland played them in Week 5 and, chasing the points difference boost to topple France, beat Italy by a very similar 37 points. So by removing Italy, you actually make France's victory ever so slightly more secure - although it still would have taken Vermeulen's last minute try to win the tournament.

It should be noted, France and Ireland both play Italy at home in odd years and away in even years, so the effect of having Italy at home when a rival has Italy away wasn't seen in either of these years.

In 2008 to 2010 - we had another 3 Grand Slams, and as before nothing would change by removing Italy's results.

In 2011 - England won outright on 8 points. However, France finished on 6 points having lost to both England and Italy. For the first time, Italy took points off a title contender. England piled on the points that year (playing Italy at home), and taking it away would cause England to lose the extra win they have over France and +46 points and the Championship to France.

This is the first instance of results against Italy deciding a Championship - although surprisingly not because of points difference.

In 2012 - we had a Wales Grand Slam, so Italy had no effect.

In 2013 - Wales won on points difference after beating England 30-3 and ended with a points difference +40 better than England's. Even adjusting for Wales superior points difference against Italy (+17 vs +7) this doesn't close the gap. It would have made Wales' target vs England a 12 points win rather than a 7 point win on the final day, but the actual number didn't matter to Wales that day with that performance.

In 2014 - Ireland pipped England on points difference, beating England's effort by 10 points. Ireland smashed Italy at home by 39 points in Week 4, but England actually bettered that by 2 points away in Week 5, trying in vain to manufacture a points difference challenge for Ireland to overcome against France.

In 2015 - we had the only 3-way tie in Six Nations history, with Ireland, England and Wales all finishing on 8 points. Ireland finished with +63 (+40 removing results against Italy), England finished with +57 (+27 removing results against Italy) and Wales finished with +53 (+12 removing results against Italy), so no change in the standings. Wales had the biggest win against Italy playing in Week 5, which set up that mad final day with Ireland beating Scotland by 30 and England beating France by 20.

In 2016 - Grand Slam - no change.

2017 saw the introduction of bonus points, and therefore another layer to the equation. However both 2017 and 2018 now have been won outright on the old system (wins) or bonus points and would not change with the removal of Italy.




The results of this surprised me. In the 6 Championships that were settled on points difference, not one would have been reversed had results against Italy not counted, going against my argument that bonus points are useful to "regulate" cricket scores against Italy. That's not to say that there wouldn't have been some movements in teams that tied for second or lower, however I don't think that is a major concern to too many people.

Italy have on only one occasion settled the Championship, and that was when they beat France in 2011 in Week Four. France therefore went into Week Five 4 points behind England and out of the Championship race. England's 16 point loss against Ireland that day coupled with France's 19 point win against Wales meant, were it not for a Mirco Bergamasco 75th minute penalty a week earlier, France would have won the 2011 Championship.

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by IanBru on Wed 14 Mar 2018, 9:46 am

That's some outstanding research Robbo - many thanks!
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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by LordDowlais on Wed 14 Mar 2018, 10:03 am

Very interesting, nice work, and worthy of a good debate. I would suggest though, that Italy do not really add anything to the 6N at the moment.

All they are, is a potential banana skin at home. After watching this years 6N, and the AI before, I honestly think Georgia would add more than Italy. It's almost as if Italy are not bothered how they perform on the international stage.

Yes, their fans are brilliant, yes Italy is a good trip, but is all that worth it ?

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by wolfball on Wed 14 Mar 2018, 2:46 pm

LordDowlais wrote:Very interesting, nice work, and worthy of a good debate. I would suggest though, that Italy do not really add anything to the 6N at the moment.

All they are, is a potential banana skin at home. After watching this years 6N, and the AI before, I honestly think Georgia would add more than Italy. It's almost as if Italy are not bothered how they perform on the international stage.

Yes, their fans are brilliant, yes Italy is a good trip, but is all that worth it ?

How many years of +50 point victories over Georgia in the 6 nations would you like before asking for Italy back in again?

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by marty2086 on Wed 14 Mar 2018, 3:14 pm

wolfball wrote:
LordDowlais wrote:Very interesting, nice work, and worthy of a good debate. I would suggest though, that Italy do not really add anything to the 6N at the moment.

All they are, is a potential banana skin at home. After watching this years 6N, and the AI before, I honestly think Georgia would add more than Italy. It's almost as if Italy are not bothered how they perform on the international stage.

Yes, their fans are brilliant, yes Italy is a good trip, but is all that worth it ?

How many years of +50 point victories over Georgia in the 6 nations would you like before asking for Italy back in again?

I love how everyone jumps on the Georgia bandwagon when Romania are the current REC champions and if they get the right result on Sunday against Georgia retain their title.

Not to mention that Georgia and Romannia have struggled against the likes of Emerging Italy

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by Scarpia on Wed 14 Mar 2018, 3:25 pm

I would do away with bonus points but I would not settle it on points difference either. I'd happily go back to the possibility of a shared championship. I know this will never happen. The problem with BPs for me is that with an odd number of fixtures, teams who have three home games, already an advantage, have a much better chance of BPs. If there were home and away games (too much rugby) it would be fairer. If it were 5 nations there would be an even number of fixtures so BPs would be fairer. There would still be the advantage of playing Italy at home.

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by LordDowlais on Wed 14 Mar 2018, 4:27 pm

Are people seriously telling me that Romania are better than Georgia ?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/43397822

People need read that link. They are struggling to qualify for the next world cup, and they are competing with the likes of Spain and Portugal and Belgium. They will play Georgia this Sunday, so perhaps we can gauge after that, but I would presume that none of the Georgians playing in France were available the REC competition.

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by geoff999rugby on Wed 14 Mar 2018, 4:56 pm

Lets be honest Georgia have the edge over Rumania but they are not out of sight.
They are in the WC, they have a higher ranking than Rumania and will almost certainly be champions this year.

By the same token Rumania are not struggling to qualified for the World Cup - they will make it with something to spare
and they are the current champions

Georgia better - Yes, by a lot - No

Both would get beaten at least as comfortably as Italy against full strength 5N teams - and there is the problem

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by marty2086 on Wed 14 Mar 2018, 5:13 pm

LordDowlais wrote:Are people seriously telling me that Romania are better than Georgia ?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/43397822

People need read that link. They are struggling to qualify for the next world cup, and they are competing with the likes of Spain and Portugal and Belgium. They will play Georgia this Sunday, so perhaps we can gauge after that, but I would presume that none of the Georgians playing in France were available the REC competition.

So Romania on the back of losing 1 game to Spain they aren't good enough but despite Georgia never having beat a Tier 1 nation you believe they would offer more than Italy to the 6Ns?

By your logic, if Romania beat Georgia does that then make then not good enough?

FYI, Georgia have 14 players based in France in their squad

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by Brendan on Wed 14 Mar 2018, 10:51 pm

Some people are forgetting that Italy beat South Africa in 2016 and ran Australia close in Oz last year.  Their problem is also that they have to play teams that like them have progressed by as much as they have.

Italy weren't given entry to the 6 Nations for no reason. They beat 5 Nation teams to demand entry.  Their clubs were also involved in the European competitions.  They now have better home clubs and great players at other top clubs. Are people really saying that they are hopeless and Georgia and Rominia are better placed

As much as I would love to see Georgia and Rominia brought in so that there would be no rest weeks. Fixed squads and the top four from the last season playing each other the last three rounds so it would prepare us for the world cup format none of it will happen.

On the topic Italy are now 5pts for most, and has cost France this year
Ireland have won because of BPs against Wales and Scotland.  Scotland are where they are because of BP issues
That seems fairer.

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by Big on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 10:13 am

Agree with that Brendan. I do feel a bit sorry for Italy, as they have genuinely improved and the underlying structure of rugby in Italy is also getting better. I think they are currently better than the team of 5 years ago that came 4th - it's just that other teams have improved as well.

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by The Oracle on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 11:45 am

Keep Italy in. I like their women. END OF!
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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by SecretFly on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 12:23 pm

The Oracle wrote:Keep Italy in.  I like their women.  END OF!

Exactly.  Anyone who wants to kick out Italy is a bloody eejit...and believe me, I should want them castrated and thrown on a burning fire for the way they too went against our world class bid to have our very own World Cup! Sad  
But I think I'll find other means of revenge rather than throwing out a Nation with such beautiful women....*ahem* .. I mean such beautiful architecture.

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by robbo277 on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 12:26 pm

Just an FYI, the OP wasn't meant to be provoke a debate over Italy's position in the Six Nations, just a curiosity I had over whether any team had won the Six Nations that wouldn't have won a hypothetical Five Nations if we were to expunge Italy.

For me, although promotion/relegation would probably be a goal to move towards, another option would be to see the European Nations Champion play-off against the Six Nations Champion at the home of the European Nations winner at the end of May/start of June, whenever it could be fit in around domestic finals and international tours. It would be the equivalent of the community shield in English club football, the winners of two competitions playing off in what is basically an exhibition match, rather than a serious competition in itself.

You could even play it on the domestic finals weekend as the Six Nations Champion would probably be looking to experiment anyway (would create an issue if Scotland won the Six Nations and Glasgow and Edinburgh both made the final, so some more thinking needed here, but most years it would be fine). But it would be an acknowledgement of the other tournament, a nice financial boost for the winner getting a marquee home game and a good yardstick of how far these teams are coming along.

With promotion and relegation, you're always going to limit the top table to 6. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, if you can raise the profile of a Nations Cup and possibly bring in a play-off in the summer, you would then allow for 12 countries at the top table, without putting the traditional Six Nations and the European Nations Cup into a hierarchy.

Not sure which one I prefer to be honest. At the moment it makes sense to put them in divisions, because that's how the quality is split. But as a long term project, making the two equal would be a more exciting and possibly more rewarding undertaking.

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by LordDowlais on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 12:30 pm

I think the home nations should include the winner of the second tier comp to play an AI as a compulsory fixture.

Imagine the incentive for the winners of the 2nd tier comp if they knew winning it would confirm them games against Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England every AI.

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by The Oracle on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 12:38 pm

LordDowlais wrote:I think the home nations should include the winner of the second tier comp to play an AI as a compulsory fixture.

Imagine the incentive for the winners of the 2nd tier comp if they knew winning it would confirm them games against Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England every AI.

Maybe one game against 1 of them like with Georgia the last few years.  But playing all of them every AI means that the rest of the 2nd tier around the world doesn't get a game - the likes of Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Canada, USA, Japan, et al.  There wouldn't be space.  And that goes against what World Rugby is trying to do.
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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by SecretFly on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 12:41 pm

robbo277 wrote:. It would be the equivalent of the community shield in English club football, the winners of two competitions playing off in what is basically an exhibition match, rather than a serious competition in itself.


Whether exhibition or serious, the result would be the same if the Winner of 6N (the winner now - and that takes some doing in probably the most brutal if indeed not the most beautiful Professional rugby competition in the world).. met the winner of the European Nations.  It wouldn't be pretty and it wouldn't be marketable because rugby audiences kinda want 'competitiveness' - for such is the very idea around all the complaints about the presence of Italy in the first place.

Would Ireland or England or France or Scotland or Wales - winners of a 6N - really want to humour another supposed big game that would involve a side with less punch than the sides they've already beaten to get the 6N title?  Would such a game get people to tune in?  Would such a game be given the very best players of that 6N winning side or would the coach stuff the side with 2nd or 3rd string players?

I think the future is doable to have two big contests in Europe based on tradition.  More investment in the other contest that includes Georgia, more investment into the sides from these Nations if they seriously want to be taken seriously - as I keep saying, many of them aren't poor Nations.  

And when they've gotten their own show up and running at a higher standard, and when they are beginning to hold their own against 6N sides in terms of consistent quality of player and coaching - then have that end of year contest.
That would always be my solution - World Rugby to ask these 'lesser' European Nations, that aren't poor, to invest more seriously in their National Rugby teams and begin to compete for best coaches and begin to create some serious players.

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by SecretFly on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 12:42 pm

LordDowlais wrote:I think the home nations should include the winner of the second tier comp to play an AI as a compulsory fixture.

Imagine the incentive for the winners of the 2nd tier comp if they knew winning it would confirm them games against Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England every AI.

So always one more game for all 6N sides every AI - or simply drop one of the major attractors - one of the SH sides?

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by geoff999rugby on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 12:58 pm

A game against the team finishing bottom of the 6N would be more realistic

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by marty2086 on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 1:33 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:A game against the team finishing bottom of the 6N would be more realistic

Only if WR change the way their schedules are put together though, aren't the AIs already sorted for this year so you'd be looking at next year before it could be fitted in then come RWC years the schedules are out the window

When was the last time England played a Tier 2 European country outside of the RWC?

Personally Id like to see more done with the Nations Cup and have the likes of the Saxons and other A teams take part. It allows the Tier 2 nations an opportunity to step up a level while not taking them completely out of their depth

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by Brendan on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 3:17 pm

One thing I think that I might change about the Tips is Ireland beat Wales by the same number of tries as Scotland beat England but Ireland got an extra point.

I wouldn't mind the win by 3 trys but I do understand the current setup.

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by Pot Hale on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 9:08 pm

It would be useful to look at the playing time minutes of Italian test players from 1 Jan - 17 Mar over the last ten years.

Given the lack of depth in their test and club sides (it’s beginning to change), their workload has often been a lot greater than the other 5 Nations I suspect.
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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by Brendan on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 9:12 pm

Pot Hale wrote:It would be useful to look at the playing time minutes of Italian test players from 1 Jan - 17 Mar over the last ten years.  

Given the lack of depth in their test and club sides (it’s beginning to change), their workload has often been a lot greater than the other 5 Nations I suspect.

One of the good things is the standout players this year for them are two very young players in their FB and backrower

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Re: Italy - Kingmakers?

Post by SecretFly on Thu 15 Mar 2018, 9:16 pm

Pot Hale wrote:It would be useful to look at the playing time minutes of Italian test players from 1 Jan - 17 Mar over the last ten years.  

Given the lack of depth in their test and club sides (it’s beginning to change), their workload has often been a lot greater than the other 5 Nations I suspect.

But then when you're never in contention for League play-offs and you never have to think about playing on a Lions tour, does it even out a bit?

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