Flashback to 2000 shock
Published 06/02/2010 | 05:00
At the start of the noughties, mirroring today's scenario, the defending European champions opened the new Six Nations championship with a tie against Italy.
In 2000, history records a famous Azzurri win against Scotland, the last winners of the old Five Nations championship.
Now, 10 years on, Italy once more face the reigning champions -- but few expect another shock, with Ireland 1/50 for the win, the visiting Italians 16/1.
It was an entirely different landscape in 2000, though, as Ireland, humiliated by a hat-trick of Italian wins in the late 1990s, knew only too well.
Diego Dominguez was the architect of Scotland's downfall on that glorious day in Rome, kicking 29 points -- including a stunning hat-trick of dropped goals -- in a stunning 34-20 victory.
The 250/1 championship outsiders had been given no chance against the Scots after conceding 196 points in the previous year's World Cup, including a century against New Zealand.
Dominguez's inspirational performance was in perfect contrast to that of Scottish kicker Kenny Logan, who missed four simple kicks before being relieved of his kicking duties by Gregor Townsend midway through the second half.
The Scots began disjointedly and were left in disarray after the departure of captain John Leslie in the opening stages. They never recovered and the revered Ian McGeechan was rendered utterly impotent, refusing to alter his team's line-up until it was much too late.
"I knew we would win," said prop Massimo Cuttita after the game.
"We've worked hard over the last 10 years to get into the championship," beamed Dominguez. "Now we've proven ourselves.''
Wilhelmus Visser, the Italian No 8, offered foreboding words about the future: "But there's another four games to go. It's no use winning now and losing badly in the next four.
"Well be going onto the field to play well and stay right there in the championship."
His words were let down by deeds, though. His side did not win again, suffering crushing defeats at the hands of Wales, Ireland and England to finish bottom of the table.
Italy have collected just five more victories and only once, in 2007, have they managed more than one win in a campaign.
Italy 2000-- M Pini; D Dallan, M Dallan, L Martin, C Stoica; D Dominguez, A Troncon; M Cuttitta, A Moscardi, T Paoletti, C Checchinato, A Gritti, M Giovanelli, W Bergamasco, W Visser. Reps: A Scanavacca, M Rivaro, M Mazzantini, A Persico, G Lanzi, G De Carli, C Orlandi.
Scotland 2000 -- G Metcalfe; S Longstaff, J Mayer, J Leslie, K Logan; G Townsend, B Redpath; T Smith, G Bulloch, M Stewart, S Murray, S Grimes, M Leslie, B Pountney, G Simpson. Reps: A Nicol, D Hodge, J McLaren, D Hilton, R Russell, D Weir, S Reid.
Ref -- J Kaplan (South Africa).