Italy weathered a storm in Nice to record a second victory at the Rugby World Cup when they defeated Uruguay 38-17. Kieran Crowley’s men wanted to start quickly and did, going over for the opening six minutes into the game after Felipe Etcheverry missed the chance to put Los Teros ahead.
From there Italy imploded. A penalty try was awarded to Uruguay after Danilo Fischetti illegally held up the ball before two players were sin binned. With a two man advantage, Uruguay went over for a second try and extended their lead to 10 points thanks to a drop goal on the stroke of half-time.
Things changed massively in the second half. As Uruguay tired, Italy gained momentum and the upperhand. 31 points came without reply as they showed off skill and composure to overcome the deficit before stretching out a comfortable lead. In the end they were too good for the tier two side but now look to sterner tests against New Zealand and France.
Relive all the action from the Stade de Nice below. Plus get all the latest Rugby World Cup odds and tips here.
Italy 0-0 Uruguay, 5 minutes
Italy turn the ball over and win themselves a scrum a few metres from the Uruguay try line. The scrum collapses but the ball is squeezed out and the referee lets play go on.
Juan Ignacio Brex attempts to chip the ball into the scoring zone but loses possession and the referee brings play back for a second scrum due to no advantage for Italy.
Italy 0-0 Uruguay, 2 minutes
Miss! Felipe Etcheverry’s kick is over on the right side of the field with an awkward angle to squeeze the ball between the sticks. It’s certainly a gettable kick though the Uruguayan fly-half pushes it wide of the furthest post.
Kick off! Italy 0-0 Uruguay
Uruguay’s fly-half, Felipe Etcheverry, sends a high kick into the Italian 22 and Los Teros follow it up the field up gusto. Quick hands send the ball along the Italy line but they fail to properly release the ball and give away an early penalty.
Good chance for Uruguay to go ahead here.
Italy vs Uruguay
The two teams head out onto the pitch and the national anthems are sung. There’s plenty of emotion from both sets of players with the Italians looking particularly determined and up for this clash.
Kick off is up next.
Italy vs Uruguay
There's a late Italy change at the Stade de Nice with replacement hooker Luca Bigi out. Federico Zani is now covering in shirt 16 and Ivan Nemer comes into the squad wearing 17.
Nemer’s name may be a familiar name to some rugby fans. Earlier this year he was suspended for six months after giving Benetton teammate Cherif Traore a rotten banana during the club’s Secret Santa gift exchange something which was deemed a racist act.
At the time the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) said the sanction was imposed on the 11-times capped Nemer by the Federal Court and was in compliance with both its own regulations and World Rugby Rule 18.
Nemer was allowed to resume playing at the end of June this year.
Italy vs Uruguay
If Uruguay win today they would be a step closer to their goal of finishing thirdd in Pool A to guarantee a spot at the 2027 edition of the World Cup.
Based on their performance against France, Uruguay will be confident of causing an upset against Italy.
“The tier two countries are getting a hell of a lot closer,” Kieran Crowley said. “Look at all these teams, Uruguay, Chile, Portugal, they have got full-time training programmes.
“The only other thing they’re not getting is consistent competitive games against tier one countries. Once that is sorted out you are going to have a hell of a lot more equilibrium in world rugby.”
Italy vs Uruguay
Harry Latham-Coyle at the Stade de Nice: "Kick-off fast approaching here in Nice, where the heavy rain has relented.
“That should be welcome news for two sides who are prepared to play - Italy's remodelled backline has pace a plenty out wide and two distributors in the frontline capable of finding them, but Uruguay will fancy their chances of getting at a new-look midfield."
Crowley on Uruguay
“Uruguay pose a massive threat,” Italy head coach Kieran Crowley said when speaking ahead of this Pool A clash.
“I was [coaching] in Canada 15 years ago and they were just starting to get their systems right. They have got a centralised programme in Montevideo and most of their team plays for a club in the American championship [Super Rugby Americas].
“Then you add in the players who play in France, and you have got a pretty formidable team.”
Italy aware of Uruguay’s quality
Uruguay’s first outing in the 2023 Rugby World Cup saw them take on the hosts, France, it what was an entertaining encounter.
Los Teros put in an terrific performance that limited France’s play and at times threatened to cause an upset in Pool A. Italy watched that match and are aware of the threats Uruguay will bring this afternoon.
“We saw what Uruguay did against France, battling for every ball and they put you in difficulty physically. Against a team like that the breakdown becomes very important,” said Italian back-row Sebastian Negri, who wins his 50th cap.
This has been a breakthrough Rugby World Cup for the ‘minnows’, but the future is uncertain
Moments after his side produced an outstanding showing against France last week, Uruguay captain Andres Vilaseca wanted to make a point. “The first comment that comes to my mind is the number of journalists I see here, compared to the press conference for our team announcement where we only saw two people,” Vilaseca sounded off to a packed press room. “I just wanted to highlight how few journalists were there.”
Welcome to the Rugby World Cup away from the elite. Uruguay take on Italy in their second pool fixture on Wednesday evening, the third tournament match in five days in Nice. After the fervour brought by the travelling fans at the weekend, when Wales took on Portugal and England met Japan, the city feels strangely subdued; the big tournament buzz, mostly, gone.
An expanded World Cup in four years’ time is a possibility, although there are other challenges on the horizon for rugby’s emerging nations
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