Six Nations round four: Italy v Scotland live blog …

Disaster for Scotland ... euphoria for Italy

Andy Christie on the charge for Scotland. Image: Craig Watson
Andy Christie on the charge for Scotland. Image: Craig Watson

Thank you for reading The Offside Line’s live blog. Please feel free to keep adding your comments here – and on our next matchday blog, when Scotland travel to Dublin to take on Ireland in their final natch of this Six Nations campaign in a week’s time.

7.14pm GMT:

Some people might say that Iain Morrison’s player ratings are overly generous. What do you think?

Six Nations: Italy v Scotland: Scotland player ratings

6.16pm GMT:

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend refuses to answer question about whether his position is now under threat.

Six Nations: Italy v Scotland reaction: Townsend defiant after Roman disaster

4.06pm GMT:

Mark Anderson: “This means a lot to the Italians.”

4.04pm GMT:

Italy’s 11 year wait for a home championship win is over. A win they thoroughly deserved.

Scotland’s 13-match winning streak against the Azzurri has also come to an end. A loss they also deserved.

What now for Gregor Townsend and his team?

They are now facing another two-win Six Nations.


Italy 31-29 Scotland

81 mins:

Still going. 21 phases. Now up to Italy’s 10m line.

79 mins:

Scotland have possession but can’t get out of their own half.

77 mins:


Italy 31-29 Scotland

Scotland collect the line-out, hut it up in midfield, and Skinner propels himself over. No question about the grounding this time.

Russell whips over the quick conversion.

A lifeline or a consolation score?

76 mins:

Penalty but no further sanction. Russell kicks to the corner.

76 mins:

TMO has joined the fray. A deliberate knock-on by Federico Ruzza?

75 mins:

Scotland on the attack. But van der Merwe dollies the ball and Italy break out.

72 mins:


Italy 31-22 Scotland

Skinner is offside from a Price box-kick. Garbisi slots the points to take Italy more than a converted try ahead.

70 mins:

Scotland sub: Jamie Ritchie on for Drage, Elliot Millar-Mills for Zander Fagerson, Sam Skinner for Grant Gilchrist.

Italian sub: Federico Mori on for Lynagh.

68 mins:

The visiting pack hold it together at scrum on their own 10 yard line, facilitating an attack off first phase ball which sees Jones and Kinghorn combine to send van der Merwe clear on the left. But he cuts inside and is pinged for holding on.

66 mins:

Scotland’s scrum has just been demolished. It disintegrated in front of our eyes. It looks like a long way back for the visitors.

63 mins:

‘Scotland, Scotland’ reverberates around the ground as the 15,000 visiting fans try to raise their team’s spirits, but they are quickly drowned out by an Italian roar and the REALLY loud match announcer.

59 mins:

Scotland send on four subs. Ewan Ashman, Alec Hepburn, Matt Fagerson and Ali Price, for George Turner, Schoeman, Christie and Horne.

Italy replace Fischetti with Mirco Spagnolo at loose-head, and Sebastian Negri with Lorenzo Cannone.

58 mins:


Italy 28-22 Scotland

Garbisi hits the sweet spot this time.

57 mins:


Italy 26-22 Scotland

Nothing more than Italy deserved. No 8 Ross Vintcent made the initial break, then after several more phases, replacement scrum-half Varney picks up at the base and bustles over.

50 mins:

Subs on for Italy, hooker  Gianmarco Lucchesi, tight-head Giosue Zilocchi and scrum-half Stephen Varney on Giacomo Nicotera, Simone Ferrari and Martin Page-Relo.

Italy win a scrum penalty.

48 mins:

That Italy are still in this game despite their shambolic line-out is impressive.

46 mins:

It’s as fast and loose as the first half. One loose pass from Russell goes to deck and is swallowed up the Azzurri, but then the hosts cough dip possession and van der Merwe almost escapes up the left touchline, before being nudged into touch.

44 mins:

Garbisi huts the left post with what should have been a straightforward conversion. A really bad error!

43 mins:


Italy 21-22 Scotland

Lynagh scoops up Garbisi’s excellent kick through and strolls home unchallenged.

No try!

Italy 16-22 Scotland

Obstruction by Schoeman on Ross Vintcent during build-up to the score.

But its gone to the TMO

41 mins


Italy 16-27 Scotland

Russell flat pass, Huw Jones ghosts through the gap, and Horne runs a classic inside support line.

4o mins:

No changes at half-time, as Russell kicks-off.

Mark Anderson, ‘Our Voice in the Crowd’, asks:

“Will Scotland learn from Cardiff and put to them to the sword? Or cautiously guide this home in prep for Ireland?”

Let’s hope there is no repeat of the France game!


Everyone needs a breather. It has been a frantic 40 minutes.

40+ mins:

Italy spend most of the three minutes overtime for the first half hammering at the Scottish line, but no way through, and the visitors win a ruck penalty allows Russell to clear the danger.

39 mins:

Louis Lynagh hacks through and Scotland scramble. Van der Merwe manages to hold Ange Capuozzo up over the line.

37 mins:


Italy 16-22 Scotland

Italy kick the penalty clearance quickly and are rewarded with another penalty, against George Horne for going off his feet. Page-Relo kicks the points

36 mins:

Christie scoops up a dropped ball just inside his own half and carries all the way into Italy’s 22. Great effort, especially as he all lost lost his shorts on the way. But eventually pulled down by Brex who does brilliantly not just to make the tackle but get on his feet and force the holding-on penalty.

33 mins:


Italy 13-22 Scotland

Penalty against Christie for not rolling away allows Garbisi to claim three more home points.

29 mins:

Russell off target with the conversion. His first miss of the championship.

27 mins:


Italy 10-22 Scotland

Scotland rumble the line-out maul over and Pierre Schoeman finishes off.

27 mins:

Christie interception on halfway and a 50-22 from Russell gives Scotland a great attacking platform.

24 mins:


Italy 10-17 Scotland

Russell kicks the points.

23 mins:

Italian fans are not happy after Monty Ioane intercepts with a clear 60-yard run to the line only to be pulled back for an earlier infringement – a tackle off the ball by Danilo Fischetti, on Rory Darge. In fairness, referee Angus Gardner had made it very clear that he was playing advantage.

20 mins:

Scotland looks to attack off a scrum just inside their own half with Duhan van der Merwe and Kinghorn making good ground. But Russell overcooks a cross-kick to Christie.

15 mins:

Try and conversion!

Italy 10-14 Scotland

From a line-out maul, scrum-half Martin Page-Relo chips through and Ignacio Brex wins race to touchdown. Garbisi converts.

12 mins:

Italy 3-14 Scotland

Russell converts.

11 mins:


Italy 3-12 Scotland

Scotland strike again through Kyle Steyn off Kinghorn’s pass out of contact.

9 mins:

Fagerson backs up his try by winning a penalty over the tackled man.

6 mins:


Italy 3-7 Scotland

A long passage of possession for Scotland under serious pressure from Italy’s marauding defence. A scrappy ball ricochets to the right wing and Cam Redpath, Blair Kinghorn and Finn Russell do well to make good ground for the visitors, leading to Zander Fagerson rumbling over from close range. 18 phases in all.

Russell converts.

1min 36secs:

Italy 3-0 Scotland

Ball fell off tee – again! – and only a few second left on the shot clock, but Paolo Garbisi manages to get the kick away … and over the crossbar.

Saturday 2.15pm GMT:

Kick-off and Italy win an immediate holding-on penalty against Andy Christie. Yikes!

Saturday 2.10pm GMT:

Reminder of teams  –  

Italy: A Capuozzo, L Lynagh, I Brex, T Menoncello, M Ioane; P Garbisi, M Page-Relo; D Fischetti, G Nicotera, S Ferrari, N Cannone, F Ruzza, S Negri, M Lamaro, R Vintcent. Replacements: G Lucchesi, M Spagnolo, G Zilocchi, A Zambonin, L Cannone, S Varney, L Marin, F Mori.

Scotland: B Kinghorn; K Steyn, H Jones, C Redpath, D van der Merwe; F Russell (co-captain), G Horne; P Schoeman, G Turner, Z Fagerson, G Gilchrist, S Cummings, A Christie, R Darge (co-captain), J Dempsey. Replacements: E Ashman, A Hepburn, E Millar-Mills, S Skinner, J Ritchie, M Fagerson, A Price, K Rowe.

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)

Saturday 2.05pm GMT:

Warm-up – done.

Saturday 2pm GMT:

15 minutes until kick-off, and here is a word from our sponsor.

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Saturday 13.31pm GMT:

“We’re going to deep fry your pizzas!”

Saturday 12.08pm GMT:

Mark Anderson, ‘Our Voice in the Crowd’, says: “This man, Marco, thinks the game is going to depend on the defence. ‘As much as Scotlands attack is second to none, Italy’s defence is up to it’.

“Dougie Arnott from Glasgow says ‘discipline’ and Jack from Edinburgh says: ‘I’m more nervous about this than I was about the England game’.

Saturday 9.42am GMT:

Score predictions time. Here’s what the TOL team and friends think …

  • David Barnes (‘the editor’): Italy 16 Scotland 14
  • Mark Anderson (‘the voice in the crowd’): Italy 12 Scotland 24 (with Italy to score first)
  • Stuart Bathgate (‘the doyen’): Italy 21 Scotland 31
  • Graeme Macpherson (‘the king of the freelancers’): Italy 15 Scotland 21
  • Craig Watson (‘the snapper/artist of light and shade’): Italy 28 Scotland 32
  • Elaine Hamilton (‘the boss’): Italy 20 Scotland 24
  • Iain Morrison (‘the grand old man’): Italy 19 Scotland 27

Saturday 9.23am GMT:

To use some vernacular from back home, its a guy dreich in Rome this morning. The rain is supposed to clear in tome for kick-off. Here’s hoping!

Ever the optimist, ‘Our Voice in the Crowd’ reasons: “Sounds like somebody left the the shower on last night! Feeling this morning is the weather will suit Scotland more!”

Mark adds that: “BBQ will go ahead Operation Gazebo is in force!”


Friday 9.07pm GMT:

Scotland Under-20s are blown away in the second half and end up on the sore end of a 47-14 hammering to Italy in Treviso.

U20s 6N: Young Scots taught another painful lesson as impressive Italy run riot

Friday 5.31pm GMT:

The ‘All Roads Lead To Rome’ charity cycle to support the legacy of Doddie Weir has arrived in Rome, with Scotland great Rob Wainwright, Irish legend Gordon D’Arcy, Italian record try-scorer Marcello Cuttitta (brother Massimo) and SRU immediate past-president Ian Barr all in attendance. Images by Craig Watson.

Find out more here:

Dodd1e’5 Gr4nd S7am team set off on epic cycle

Friday 5.16pm GMT:

It’s a sell-out tomorrow and Mark Anderson – aka ‘Our Voice in the Crowd’ – tells us: “An interesting observation from today is for the first time in six Italy trips I’ve been approached by Italian fans for tickets!”

“Talking to some local rugby players and they are really up for this tomorrow. They really feel Scotland is the scalp that can be taken. They wished us good luck but were not sorry!”

Here’s a pic Mark has sent over of Bearsden RFC in Rome.

Friday 3.04pm GMT:

Scotland co-captain Rory Darge has just finished his press conference. Not in the mood to play the hype game, and didn’t entertain any chat about a potential championship decider against Ireland in Dublin next week,.

“We’re just focusing on this week first of all because Italy are a really good side,” he straight-batted. “We saw that against France, and they’re obviously playing at home where they’ll have a really good atmosphere and good backing.

“They had lots of really physical, desperate efforts on their goal-line to give themselves a chance [against France] and then showed some really good attack in the second half. They’ve got threats all over the park.”

The flanker didn’t bite either when asked about the possibility of Duhan van der Merwe equalling Stuart Hogg‘s all-time Scotland try-scoring record of 27 (by scoring one try), or surpassing it (with two or more tries), this weekend.

“It would be a nice place for him to do it but I don’t think he’ll have too much of his mind set on that. He’ll just be focused on his role, and he might come away with a couple, but we’ll have to wait and see. I’m sure Italy will put us under a lot of pressure.”

Friday 12.40pm GMT:

Italy defence coach Marius Goosen and skipper Michele Lamaro have just finished their eve of match press conference. They believe their team is closer than ever to ending their 11-year Six Nations losing streak in Rome.

“We know that if we play to our best level, we can compete in this game. We need to be ready to take advantage of their mistakes, and to take advantage of what we create ourselves,” said Lamaro.

“We’ve had an excellent week of training, in which we have been putting ourselves under real pressure and trying to improve those small details that can make the difference. We now need to put on the pitch everything that we have been working on.”

“We managed to draw in France, but the previous week we had been on the floor after losing 36-0 to Ireland. [The perception is that] one week we are heroes, the next we are a word that it’s probably better I don’t say,” he added.

“Those perceptions do not reflect reality. There are always going to be highs and lows in a team’s journey, but I believe we are heading in the right direction. We are growing little by little and we certainly have more chance of winning a game now than was the case two years ago or even last year.”

Italy captain Michele Lamaro says Italy need to prove that they can produce strong back-to-back performances. Image: © Craig Watson -
Italy captain Michele Lamaro says Italy need to prove that they can produce strong back-to-back performances. Image: © Craig Watson –

Thursday 6.25pm:

And here are the details of an event and a drinks offer that Mark and his pals have organised for Scotland fans in Rome this weekend:

*Remember to drink responsibly. Go to for more information.

Thursday 6pm:

Introducing TOL “Our Voice in the Crowd’ for this weekend’s clash. Mark Anderson is in Rome as part of the ‘Scottish Rugby Away Tours Forum’ delegation.

Here is Mark and the gang on today’s trip to Monte Cassino:

Thursday 1.50pm:

Italy coach Gonzalo Quesada has announced his team for Saturday’s match, and it shows three changes, including a debut for Harlequins winger Louis Lynagh. Tomasso Menoncello moves into midfield to accommodate the 23-year-old, who was born in Treviso and is the son of the former Wallabies stand-off Michael Lynagh.

The other two alterations to the side that began the 13-13 draw with France a fortnight ago are in the pack. Simone Ferrari starts at tighthead instead of Giosue Zilocchi, and Sebastian Negri returns from injury to replace Riccardo Favretto at blindside.

Italy (v Scotland): A Capuozzo; L Lynagh, J Brex, T Menoncello, M Ioane; P Garbisi, M Page-Relo; D Fischetti, G Nicotera, S Ferrari, N Cannone, F Ruzza, S Negri, M Lamaro (captain), R Vintcent. Replacements: G Lucchesi, M Spagnolo, G Zilocchi, A Zambonin, L Cannone, S Varney, L Marin, F Mori.

Thursday 10.11pm: 

Scotland team to face Italy in round four of the 2024 Six Nations is out. Three changes, one enforced. Cam Redpath starts in the centre in place of injured Sione Tuipulotu, George Horne starts at scrum-half ahead of Ben White who is out the squad altogether, Andy Christie starts at blindside flanker with Jamie Ritchie dropped to thyne bench.

Scotland (v Italy at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Saturday 2.15pm British time): B Kinghorn; K Steyn, H Jones, C Redpath, D van der Merwe; F Russell (co-captain), G Horne; P Schoeman, G Turner, Z Fagerson, G Gilchrist, S Cummings, A Christie, R Darge (co-captain), J Dempsey. Replacements: E Ashman, A Hepburn, E Millar-Mills, S Skinner, J Ritchie, M Fagerson, A Price, K Rowe.

Italy v Scotland: three changes to visitors’ starting line-up

About David Barnes 3911 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Dear Gala,
    Agree totally with you on your comments especially with your commentary remarks utterly dire. I realise I am totally spoilt having listened to Bill, however the standard has deteriorated over the years beyond the pale. I do not (as far as I am awarec) suffer from a hearing problem but this Miles chap mumbles talks drivel and no one can hear him! This biggest sin is that people who do not watch rugby, tune in to watch 6 Nations but have no idea of rules,gain lines,etc but are expected to understand, no explanation, commentators are doing the game no service at all. Brian Moore please return and yes I am a Scot!

    • “this Miles chap mumbles talks drivel and no one can hear him!”

      Wrong. I could hear him and as you go on to say he doesn’t explain things you must be able to hear him too.

      During the game he explained the 50/22 law for those who didn’t know it so again you are wrong.

      It’s all very well criticising people but when you say things which are quite simply untrue you lose all credibility.

  2. I had a strong feeling of foreboding right from the start, the Italian team sang their guts out during their National Anthem all brimming with pride because of the jersey, while you could barely detect lip movement from some of the Scottish team. The difference in energy level was astonishing, and transferred straight onto the playing field. Where was the passion from Scotland, Italy had it in spades. I don’t think it’s something that can be taught.Very depressing. Hope they can find a burst of energy for next week.

  3. AWJ, when captain of Wales,would gather the players around him at every break in play to chat, encourage and make sure everyone knew the game plan.
    We never seem to see that in a Scotland game.

    • A very good point. It looks to me that our pack lacks leadership – a lot of quiet men which is fine but you need someone to pull them together and give a bit of motivation. Could Dempsey be that guy? He is one of the more energised players, don’t know what his personality is like. I see nothing from Darge, Gilchrist, likewise ZF who is a senior player I don’t see him rallying the players around him.

  4. I wonder how we will be prepared to cope with Ireland’s cheating next week

    Two examples. First half England pour in to clean a ruck, that **** McManooy flies out holding his head . ..
    Second half about 41 mins England going forward, Ireland 15 tackles the previous ball carried but follows through to take out the England clearing player and the 9 hangs around offside to slow down the next one = Ireland turnover

    Also ref, start of first half, Ireland clear deliberate knock forward to prevent an English try, not given …..

    Realise I’m ranting because so disappointed in Scotland ….m

  5. Well, start of the current era, goodish coach, average quality team, now, average coach, good to great qualify team.

    What we needed today was to play professionally, with drive and determination. What we seemed to particularly lack was leadership, both off and on the field. On the field was dire. Off seemed poor, with the lateness of the final subs seeming to lose us any chance of turning things up.

    Guys must be really gutted tonight, surely they now know this was the championship that got away.

    Finally agree with those calling for a coaching change

  6. I thought Italy were fitter, faster and hungrier than Scotland. Add in (laugh if you like), the “Scottish Psyche “ and there was only one

  7. Well done Dodson! Thanks for renewing/extending Townsend’s contract pre RWC. Suspect it wont be long before he follows you out the door.

    • Let’s hope he has the decency to fall on his sword and not cost us a fortune to move on … He strikes me as an honest man and he’s done a decent job up to now ..m

  8. We obviously have a mental fragility to recover from setbacks during a game, and we simply continue to underperform. It’s not about a lack of size anymore, our pack was heavier than theirs, and indeed slightly heavier than today’s Irish pack as well. Yes, we have a limited player pool, but we have the players we have who are pretty decent and we can’t change that overnight – so there isn’t a quick fix there – but the setup has gone stale and without change it won’t improve which means GT needs to go! I’d be gobsmacked if that happened tho…

  9. Horrendous discipline (again) and a litany of individual errors.

    It’s constantly one step forward, two steps backward.


  10. Last year’s Italy win was a Phyrric victory, I feared today would be exactly as it turned out.
    Clearly myopic selections and one dimensional thoughts.
    You simply can’t run all the time, you need pragmatism (as Glasgow showed last week) and whilst some enterprising plays no kicking option whatsoever.

    Kinghorn is simply not to be trusted.

    Today will be a positive if GT resigns

  11. Townsend should be replaced after this tournament. There hasn’t been a single good 80-minute performance this tournament and he hasn’t moved the team onwards.

    Losing to Italy – despite their progress – is unacceptable. No plan B, no mental toughness.

    Some players are clearly overrated too – Darge, Jones, Schoeman, Gilchrist, Cummings… have any of these guys actually shown themselves to be genuine international class? Absolutely not.

  12. People will say …If not GT then who??….I don’t care if there isn’t an immediate name out there..It really is time for him to go…it was actually time up after the Japan RWC but for some hopeful punt of a reason we gave him every chance.
    The limited pool of talent we have ( and most people agree we have talented players to select from) or had is being wasted with poor selections….poor tactics…lack of leadership….an array of coached basic rugby that simply hasn’t been installed in 8 years.

  13. Italy could nick third at this rate.

    Scotland struggle to hold a lead. Very unstructured 20 minutes onward.

  14. Discipline = Shocking.
    Structure = Shocking.
    Tactical Nous = Shocking.
    Composure = Shocking.

    Full credit to Italy, they absolutley deserved that result.

    Mr Townsend, time to go pal, your time is up.

  15. Poor performance by Scotland, looked all over the place.

    Awful Commentary, had to turn the volume off. All that dreadful woman could do was refer to Andy Christie and Saracens/the premiership, useless. Hastings could not even get half to Italians names right.

    Redpath offered no platform for the backs to play off. Bring in McDowall to truck it up.

    Well done Italy – Deserved victory.

    Why is this happening 8 years into a headcoaches tenure?

    • Not sure Gt can be criticised for the quality of the ITV commentary team tbf….but putting Price on for Horne is undoubtedly a sacking offence though.

  16. Sick to death of terrible refereeing.

    “Leave it, leave it, leave it, leave it, leave it”. Or not.

    No yellow for the deliberate knock on in the red zone, and used up 2 mins before they came back for it.

    Ignored multiple offsides, let them slow the ball.

    And knock ons, simple knock ons they just ignored……only to call us for a knock on at the death that was back.

    I simply don’t know what we have done to these refs……

    Ok, so we were terrible for 15 mins when we resorted to poor kicking, but Italy were not good and we got no calls again. Tuipoluto being taken out for Englands first try had more impact than Shu’s bump, but they drag us back. We have to beat the opposition and the officials every week.

  17. The only consolation I have is that Italy could not have got the Win without our help and ineptitude and it is one thing to call for Townsend to go and it is another to ignore how you can start as well as we did and then loose.
    The only consolation, the try against France doesn’t matter anymore.

  18. Kinghorn was the worst player on the park. Absent in defence, kicking from hand, chase and gathering were a joke and he knocked on pretty much every time he got it. What was the point of having 6 forwards on the bench, when not one was introduced until the 60th minute, and three in the last 10. Ridiculous. Toonie and Tandy – time to collect your jotters.

    • Too much possession kicked away in the last 20. Too many miracle passes. Didn’t do the basics well enough. 2 tries against from grubber kicks with no cover defence.

  19. I wondered whether we had really improved, we should be playing a professional game and put Italy to the sword, but no same old Scotland …

  20. Obviously want Christie to be a star, and the break was not something any other forward could have done. But he has been involved in 3 penalties against.
    Exciting first half, we clearly need to keep up the intensity and be smart to close this out.

    • GT has to go this year without a doubt but can he please take his mediocre (at best) backroom staff as well please. All yes men and the game in Scotland is going backwards at a rate of knots.

  21. The second Scotland try was all about attacking ambition. Basic skills were loose at first and this second half collapse is frustrating, but these are young men finding their way in rugby.

    Interested to understand what is so bad about the commentary. Smells of misogyny to me.

    • Yeah agree, thought the commentary was ok. Refereeing on the other hand was poor, game actually turned on some very bad decisions, unlikely affecting the result, but you never know …

    • I’m afraid you appear to be referring on the dreadful commentary of the U20 fixture against Italy: that is in a different article.
      I suggest your second mistake is considering that misogyny has anything to do with the dreadful cliche ridden ramblings such as ‘He’s half Scots half Can Opener’ comment and many others of that ilk.

  22. Good first half from the U20s, they are definitely up for this one. Would be really nice for them to get a win

    • Ali F – “good half of rugby “ – you have got to be kidding One of the most disappointing halves of rugby I’ve seen for a long time from both teams , complete lack of ambition in attack , poor structure , poor basic skills – particularly kicking.
      If this is how teams are being coached then rugby is dead , these teams are being coached not to lose as opposed to coached to go out , put in a performance and win …
      The performances of both teams coupled with the absolutely dire commentary have made this a terrible watch …


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