Reigning Champions and 2019 Grand Slam winners Wales will get the 2020 Guinness Six Nations tournament underway when they host Italy at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. The match has been scheduled to take place on Saturday 1st of February 2020 as from 02:15 GMT and will be overseen by English referee Mike Pearce. The game will be live on BBC and S4C while also being aired live on FR2, DMAX, Virgin Media, and NBC Sports. These two sides were at the opposite extremes in the 2019 edition of the Six Nations with Wales winning all of its games while Italy failed to register a single victory in the whole tournament.
Wayne Pivac will be in the Welsh dugout for the very first time as head coach after being handed the mantle from Warren Gatland who stepped down following the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and will be hoping to successfully defend the Six Nations trophy at first attempt.
Italy’s Interim head coach Franco Smith will oversee the Azzurri’s 2020 Six Nations Campaign after being appointed following the resignation of former head coach Connor O’Shea. The South African will be looking to transform the Italian side while hoping to cause a radical upturn in their on field results in the 6 Nations in February. That won’t be easy as his first assignment will be against Wales who they have only managed to beat twice in 27 attempts.
Wales had to toil and moil for a 15-26 win over a stubborn Italian side when these sides met in the 2019 Six Nations championship. Both sides scored two tries apiece with Steyn and Padovani scoring for the hosts in either half respectively while Adams and Watkin grabbing a try each in the second half for the Welsh Rugby Union. Allan converted once and added a penalty for the Azzurri but Dan Biggar’s conversion and four penalty kicks coupled with Anscombe’s conversion for Wales proved to be decisive at the final whistle.
With both sides being under new management, all eyes will be on each of them when they select their respective squads ahead of the 2020 Six Nations tournament. Wayne Pivac will get an opportunity to test his select side when Wales face Ireland in an uncapped match in preparation of the 6 Nations. One name that can’t be overlooked in Dan Biggar whose overall importance to the squad can’t be overlooked and might be very crucial in this game if selected.
On the other hand, Franco Smith will be under immense pressure and his selection will need to be spot on as he looks to help Italy not to get the Wooden Spoon for the second straight season. Matteo Minozzi is the most likely candidate to replace talisman Sergio Parisse and may get a chance to showcase why he is so highly rated if he gets the nod to lead the Azzurri in the 6 Nations in February 2020.
Head to Head
Wales has a superior head-to-head against Italy having won 24 of the 27 previous meeting with the remaining game ending in a draw. The Azzurri have only managed to win twice but they have never won a game in Wales in 14 attempts with their only good result being an 18-18 draw in March 2006 at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.
This game will come too soon for Franco Smith as he faces an uphill task of registering Italy’s first ever win in Wales. On the other hand, Pivac will be looking to pick up where his predecessor left and lead his side to a successful title defence and first off will be a game that looks easy on the eye for the Welsh side.
Prediction: Wales 34 – 15 Italy