What once was described as the world’s greatest rugby rivalry between New Zealand and South Africa, now a distant memory, safely buried away in the archives of YouTube, offering a nostalgic glimpse of what once was for Springbok supporters. South African rugby embarks on a new chapter this weekend and prepares to do battle on Saturday against Italy, who in all likelihood will become SA rugby’s new adopted rival. The match promises to be a scrappy affair which will entertain supporters to aimless kicking, subpar ball skills, and all-round poor execution. However, it should be a tight game, which could go either way, so with that being said, who will emerge victories on Saturday, between these tier-2 rugby nations? This is The Sport Freak’s full South Africa vs Italy match preview.
South Africa vs Italy Prediction
Springbok waterboy Johan van Graan and head (coach?) Allister Coetzee, has promised a much improved Springbok performance AGAINST ITALY, so shall we believe them, or is the South African public in for some more lies from the Springbok coaching staff? Below we will try to decipher what to expect from the Springboks for the SA vs Italy fixture.
South Africa has only 1 victory in their last 5 matches, and an overall win/loss ratio of less than 40% since Allister Coetzee took over. Furthermore, Allister Coetzee is yet to win his first away match since he took over as Springbok coach.
South African rugby records, which stood for decades, have been smashed over the span of the last 2-years, and the rugby history books, have been re-written. The rugby historians will need to keep their books open a little longer, as South African rugby supporters might see yet another record broken this weekend, with Italy genuinely having a chance to record their first ever victory against South Africa. We are yet to call a South African result wrong this year, and that includes picking the correct spread/ handicap, so believe us when we say Italy has a genuine chance.
Over the years Italy vs South Africa fixtures was seen as an opportunity, for South Africa, to give new players a chance, and test some experimental combinations. Not this time though, the Springboks are desperate and went full strength (which might give the Boks a slight advantage). However, Italy knows there is immense pressure on the South African rugby team coming into this fixture, which will result in a pumped up and motivated Italian team, something which will certainly not aid the cause of a demoralised Springbok team, who generally does not deal well with pressure.
One can’t help but wonder if Coetzee “has the proverbial locker room at this stage” and currently enjoys the respect of his players (which is so important for a coach) after he continues to put the blame on the players for losing rather than accepting responsibility, as the coach, for the disastrous run of Springbok results of late.
The worrying thing for South African supporters heading into the South Africa vs Italy clash is Coetzee’s insistence that he is using the correct gameplan. Coetzee this past week, again, insisted that he will continue with his game plan “or lack thereof” against Italy. Thus, Italy will know exactly what will be coming to them, and that is where we believe Italy will enjoy a distinct advantage. Providing Italy can themselves draw up the correct game plan to counter Coetzee’s aimless kick and chase, plan they might have a real chance of recording their first ever victory against South Africa. They (Italy) simply need to outsmart South Africa, like Japan, did in the 2015 World Cup and they are in with a chance!
Whether Italian rugby has improved over the past couple of years is debatable. Over the past years Italy genuinely surprised in fixtures they were given no chance in, and then underachieved in fixtures they were expected to win. One constant of Italian rugby is their inconsistency on the rugby field, unable to string together consistent performances week after week, which has been the Achilles heel of Italian rugby.
A good example of the above is highlighted by Italy’s 6-Nations campaign in 2016. After Italy were completely written off by the bookmakers in their opening RBS fixture against France (being given as much as a +20-point head start) they went onto the field, played out of their skin, and narrowly lost to a good France team by 2-points, a match they would have won had it not been for a shockingly poor referee call on a forward pass, which resulted in a try to France late in the match.
After that match confidence was high over the Italians and their “new style of rugby” only for them to go out the next week and lose to an injury-depleted Scotland by 16-points.
What is meant by the above? Making an accurate prediction for the South Africa vs Italy fixture is hard since it will largely depend on which Italian team shows up on Saturday.
Italy vs South Africa Facts & Statistics
- Conor O’Shea long term Harlequins coach was appointed as the new Italian head coach in 2015.
- Italy has dropped out of the top 10 rugby world rankings, since O’Shea took over, and currently finds themselves in 14th place just below Georgia! However, don’t let this fool you, on their day the Italians can compete with most of World Rugby’s top 10 nations, and we expect Italy will do just that in the Italy vs South Africa match on Saturday.
- Italy has lost all their matches this year, bar one against the USA which they narrowly won 24-22.
- South Africa is yet to record their first away win since Coetzee took over as head coach.
- South Africa last played Italy in 2014, a closer than expected match, which South Africa won by 16-points.
- Italy is fielding a relatively good team, with a nice mix of youth and experience, including a South African lock in Andries van Schalkwyk, who will win his 6th cap for the Italians. The average international experience per Italian player is 29 caps, with a combined total of 429 caps in the starting line-up.
- Inspirational Italian skipper, Sergio Parrise, will win his 121st international cap on Saturday, against South Africa. There is a consistent trend among Italian rugby, when Parrise plays well, Italy plays well as a team.
Italy vs South Africa – What the Bookmakers are saying.
Whether you are a betting man or not, it’s always interesting to see what the bookmakers think of a certain fixture. The bookmakers have given Italy a + 19-point head start (handicap) for this match at odds of @1.91
South Africa can be found at odds of @1.08 for a straight win, however, don’t bet a fortune on that in the hope of a small return since this result is certainly not guaranteed.
Italy can be found at odds of @9.75 for a straight up victory…if you are brave enough you might want to place a small bet on this, R100 ZAR will return R1’500 providing Italy wins.
South Africa vs Italy Prediction.
Surely South Africa can’t lose this match? But you just never know with the Springboks under Allister Coetzee. Although we are expecting a South African win we certainly won’t be surprised if Italy does manage to record their first ever victory against South Africa on Saturday. We are expecting this to be a (much) closer than expected match, though! Man for man Italy can compete with South Africa and it certainly won’t be easy for the Springboks come Saturday.
Italy vs Springboks Recommended Bet
Italy with a handicap of +19-points. (confidence 90%)
South Africa 27, Italy 18.
Why not make the Springboks vs Italy match a bit more exciting by placing a wager on this match? South African users can now open a Sportingbet ZA account, bet out of the comfort from your own home and sign up for a Sportingbet account here.