Masi scoops Six Nations award
March 23, 2011
Andrea Masi scored Italy's try in a famous win over France © Getty Images
Andrea Masi has become the first Italian player to be named Six Nations Player of the Championship.
The Racing Metro utility back secured 30% of the voting, beating Azzurri team-mate Fabio Semenzato into second. Ireland's Sean O'Brien and England fly-half Toby Flood came in third and fourth respectively.
For the first time the shortlist was decided by bringing together the Man of the Match winners from the opening four rounds of matches, before the public were given a chance to vote for the winner.
Masi crossed for Italy's vital try in their first Championship win over France, while Nick Mallett's side also ran Ireland and Wales close only to finish bottom of the pile after defeat to Scotland.
"It has been a Championship of highs and lows for the Italian team," he said. "Our win against France will go down in rugby history but to finish sixth frustrated us all.
"However, to be named the Player of the Championship is a fantastic way to end what has been one of the most competitive Championships I can remember.
"We have worked hard this year and can be proud of our achievements. Italian rugby continues to strengthen and we are very happy with our progress as a team. To be the first Italian voted to win this award by the fans is a huge compliment."
Meanwhile, Italy centre Gonzalo Canale has been suspended for two weeks for a dangerous tackle on Simon Danielli in last weekend's 21-8 Six Nations defeat by Scotland.
Canale appeared before an independent Six Nations disciplinary committee in London where it was decided his offence was at the low end of severity. The Clermont Auvergne back is able to resume playing on April 4 and has the right of appeal.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown