Italy coach Smith to stick with youth despite woeful Six Nations

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Youth policy - Italy coach Franco Smith

Italy coach Franco Smith vowed to keep faith with a youthful side after another winless Six Nations campaign left them bottom of the table.

The Azzurri lost heavily in all five of their matches, culminating in Saturday's 52-10 loss to Scotland at Murrayfield, where they conceded eight tries.

Italy have gone 32 matches without a win in the tournament, a run dating back to a 2015 victory away to Scotland.

Saturday's loss meant they ended this edition with a points difference of minus 184 -- statistically the worst finish in the history of the Six Nations.

They did not help their cause in Edinburgh with three yellow cards but Smith, appointed after the 2019 World Cup, insisted he would stand by a selection policy that has seen him deploy rising stars Stephen Varney and Paolo Garbisi in the pivotal half-back positions.

"The players we blooded in this competition are the players that we have available," he told a post-match news conference.

"They are the young guys we need to take the road with and it's been our misfortune that we've had to play in the Six Nations with 13 new players, a lot of them under 23."

The South African added: "I think a lot of countries come to that point but our turnover came a little bit later after the World Cup.

"We played well-drilled sides this year with their players looking to be chosen for the (British and Irish) Lions."

Italy scored the first try of Saturday's match through captain Luca Bigi before poor defence and ill-discipline proved their undoing.

"The first try we conceded, we missed nine tackles -- that's unacceptable," Smith said.

But he insisted that Italy would emerge a stronger side from yet another woeful Six Nations.

"There are a lot of lessons that we take forward," Smith said.

"There is a specific plan to uplift Italy's rugby in general but it's unfortunate we had to blood 13 new guys with an average age in this very competitive Six Nations.

"We will continue on the path. Why would we change? These guys have now gained all this experience and they definitely are five games better, five games more experienced and now when they go back to their clubs, they'll know what is expected at this level.

"You cannot explain to someone in the changing room, what it is to play at this level."

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