Ireland look to extend winning run
February 20, 2012
Ireland's Paul O'Connell is shackled by the Italy defence in Rome last year © Getty Images
Italy will be looking to make history when they tackle Ireland in the Six Nations on Saturday.
The Azzurri are yet to beat their Irish rivals in the northern hemisphere's premier competition with that fruitless run extending to 12 games - the most recent of which was a narrow 13-11 reverse in Rome last year. On that day, a 77th minute drop goal from fly-half Ronan O'Gara, who came on as a second-half substitute, preserved Ireland's proud record.
But Italy's tale of woe stretches beyond the Six Nations with defeats in Rugby World Cup warm-up matches in 2003 and 2007 along with a 36-6 drubbing in their most recent encounter at the sport's showpiece event four months ago contributing to a dismal all-time return of just three victories in their 20 previous meetings.
Italy successes include a 37-29 victory on Irish soil in 1997 but a victory in Bologna later the same year was their last win in the series.
Ronan O'Gara, with 30 points for Ireland in Dublin in 2000, holds the series record for most points scored in a match. Denis Hickie set the record for most tries in a match, scoring four for Ireland when the sides met at Limerick in 2003. The corresponding match records for Italy belong to Diego Dominguez (27 points in Bologna in 1997) and Paulo Vaccari (two tries in Dublin in 1997).
Hickie heads the list of try scorers for the overall series, crossing eight times in eight appearances between 1997 and 2007. Paulo Vaccari is the leading Italian try scorer in the matches with three in four games.
The other overall records include O'Gara's tally of 180 points from 13 appearances - another record he shares with Brian O'Driscoll - compared with 96 for Italy by Diego Dominguez and Alessandro Troncon's dozen appearances in the series.
Italy-Ireland Six Nations results:
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton