Italy took its first-ever win against Ireland in round three of the Women’s Six Nations. The result was not so much a surprise, but rather a team playing its best game.
North American viewers tuning into the FloRugby live-stream ached in suspense as the Azzurre rallied for the 29-27 win and thus second place in the standings. But for someone like USA Eagle Katy Augustyn, who’s played Italy multiple times, the Azzurre’s success was no surprise.
Augustyn debuted for the USA against Italy in 2012, and admitted that, memory wise, all that remains is the rain and the nerves of that first test match. But the hooker did see Italy recently—in the opener of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup. With the pools decided well in advance, the Eagles intently tuned into the Six Nations for notes on an opponent they’d face in five months.
The Eagle vet explained that the research helped build a team profile—Italy’s strengths and weaknesses as a team and individually, and areas of their game to be exploited.
“We were able to familiarize ourselves with their tendencies on attack, defense, set piece, their kicking game and could identify who their major playmakers, strikers, lineout jumpers, etc., were,” Augustyn explained.
“I certainly remember watching video and being really impressed that their entire backline was willing and able to kick,” the hooker continued. “Might be because I'm a forward who dreams of getting the green light to kick or because it's a part of the domestic game that is in my opinion so underutilized, but it certainly stood out to me when watching their video. Any kick you could think of: box kick, grubber or chip through the middle, up and under, clearing kick, passing kick to the wing.”
Simultaneously, the USA looked inward, evaluating what areas of its game needed fine-tuning.
“It's the first game of the tournament, so you know everybody is chomping at the bit to play. We knew Italy would bring it and we knew we really needed to set the tone in the first 20 minutes of that game and keep that pace rolling to the 80th minute,” Augustyn said of the game on Aug. 9, 2017. “So along with all of the skills and drills and unit work, we did a lot—A LOT—of conditioning in that residency camp and even once we got to Ireland. Definitely sucked in the moment, but was hands-down one of the keys to our success in that first game.”
The USA beat Italy 24-12 in 2017, and there were two players in particular, scrumhalf Sara Barratin and fullback Manuela Furlan, who impressed Augustyn then and now.
“[Barratin] is an impressive playmaker who will punish mistakes and their 15 is a dangerous strike runner,” Augustyn said. “They definitely are both threats and their connection lead to a beautiful break in the middle that eventually set their wing up for the first try of the match. That's after a near-try from [Barratin] in the opening minutes of the game”
Augustyn was surprised that Ireland came flat against Italy, and that lapse hurt overall. Italy and England are both undefeated at this stage, and they meet this Saturday. Be sure to tune in to see if another upset is in the making.
|Date||Matchup||Score||Link||Who Can Watch|
|Feb-1||England at Ireland||51-5||On-Demand||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Feb-1||Italy at Scotland||28-7||On-Demand||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Feb-2||Wales at France||3-53||On-Demand||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Feb-8||Ireland at Scotland||22-5||On-Demand||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Feb-9||Wales at Italy||3-3||On-Demand||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Feb-10||France at England||41-26||On-Demand||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Feb-23||Ireland at Italy||27-29||On-Demand||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Feb-23||Scotland at France||10-41||On-Demand||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Feb-24||England at Wales||51-12||On-Demand||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Mar-8||Wales at Scotland||Watch Live||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Mar-9||Italy at England||Watch Live||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Mar-9||France at Ireland||Watch Live||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Mar-16||Scotland at England||Watch Live||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Mar-17||Ireland at Wales||Watch Live||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|
|Mar-17||France at Italy||Watch Live||USA, Middle East, North Africa, Portugal|