How do Italy follow 2015, which ended with a best-ever third place finish?
Sara Barattin is under no illusions about the challenge ahead of her as the new captain of the Italy. With Sylvia Gaudino taking a year out, Sara has the unenviable task of following on from a remarkable 2015 that saw Italy win three out of five games, including a second win in three years against France and a dominant performance to beat their World Cup qualification rivals Wales.
“It will be much tougher this year”, she told us, “as now the other teams will be ready for us”.
The fixtures are also tougher this year, with France, Ireland and Wales all away, and England and Scotland at home. Italy won in Bridgend in 2010, but apart from that tight 19-15 triumph they have never won on the road in the Six Nations, except in Scotland. In addition the Italians were unable to arrange any practice fixtures this year.
But history counts for little with this confident Azurri team, and Barattin is particularly relishing the visit of England in round two – “If we play well we can win”.
Italy have had a very settled squad in recent years but this year the squad for the opening two weeks includes four uncapped players – fly half Silvia Folli, props Gaia Giacomoli and Diletta Nicoletti, and second row Elisa Pillotti.
All Italian home game will be streamed at www.nprugby.it
Ilaria Arrighetti , Rennes (France) ; Back row/ Hooker ; Caps: 16 ; DoB: 02/03/1993
Sara Barattin (Captain), Rugby Casale ; Scrumhalf ; Caps: 62 ; DoB: 11/09/1986,
Melissa Bettoni , Rennes (France) ; Hooker ; Caps: 25 ; DoB: 07/05/1991
Lucia Cammarano , ASD Rugby Monza 1949 ; Prop ; Caps: 8 ; DoB: 27/07/1992
Maria Grazia Cioffi , US Rugby Benevento ; Centre ; Caps: 38 ; Dob: 02/03/1989
Elisa Cucchiella , Belve NeroVerdi ; Prop ; Caps: 52 ; DoB 03/19/1983
Michela Este , Benetton Rugby Treviso ; Back row ; Caps: 44 ; DoB: 27/04/1985
Silvia Folli , Valsugana Rugby Padova ; Flyhalf ; Caps: 0 ; DoB: 02/12/1992
Manuela Furlan , Benetton Rugby Treviso ; Fullback / Wing ; Caps: 46 ; DoB: 30/06/1988
Lucia Jha , Rugby Brenta Riviera ; Prop ; Caps: 37 ; DoB 03/05/1991
Gaia Giacomoli , Rugby Colorno ; Prop ; Code: 0 ; DoB: 01/01/1995
Elisa Giordano , Valsugana Rugby Padova ; Back row ; Caps: 11 ; DoB: 01/11/1990
Isabella Locatelli , ASD Rugby Monza 1949 ; Back row/Wing ; Caps: 1 ; DoB: 10/23/1994
Maria Magatti , ASD Rugby Monza 1949 ; Centre ; Caps: 10 ; DoB: 21/08/1992
Diletta Nicoletti , Bologna Rugby 1928 ; Prop ; Code: 0 ; DoB: 10/12/1991
Elisa Pillotti , Rugby Parabiago SSD SRL ; Second row ; Caps: 0 ; DoB: 29/12/1991
Beatrice Rigoni , Valsugana Rugby Padova ; Centre / Wing ; Caps: 11 ; DoB: 210/08/1995
Valentina Ruzza , Valsugana Rugby Padova ; Second row ; Caps: 9 ; DoB: 13/09/1992
Veronica Schiavon , Rugby Riviera Del Brenta ; Flyhalf / Far ; Caps: 75 ; DoB: 07/24/1982
Michela Sillari , Rugby Colorno ; Fullback / Wing ; Caps: 25 ; DoB: 02/23/1993
Stefan Sofia , Rennes (France) ; Wing ; Caps: 22 ; DoB: 12/05/1992
Alice Trevisan , Rugby Riviera Del Brenta ; Second row ; Caps: 29 ; DoB: 02/07/1986
Paola Zangirolami , Valsugana Rugby Padova ; Centre ; Caps: 62 ; DoB: 22/10/1984