The pressure is on Warren Gatland’s side as they travel to the Stadio Olympico bottom of the Six Nations table and in grave danger of finishing the tournament in last place for the first time in 20 years. Italy have been consigned to the wooden spoon in each of the last seven seasons but hope to pull off the upset in Rome.
Italy have shown flashes of their exciting development over the course of the Six Nations, pushing defending champions France on the opening weekend and causing Ireland some problems last time out. The Azzurri have been left with the solitary losing bonus point, however, but that is still more than Wales after their sorry defeats to Ireland, England and Scotland.
Defeat today in Rome would leave the loser staring at the wooden spoon and a winless campaign. Follow live updates from Italy vs Wales in the Six Nations, below.
Italy vs Wales LIVE: Latest Six Nations updates
Italy host Wales at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome
The losing team will be on the verge of an unwanted wooden spoon
Both sides have lost their opening three games of this year’s Championship
Italy 3-15 Wales, 25 minutes
14:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Williams doesn’t seem to be moving totally freely - he pulled up slightly sore after scoring Wales’ second try, and now grasps at his thigh, straining the muscles to check all is in reasonable order. He’ll continue for now.
Italy 3-15 Wales, 23 minutes
14:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Wales penalty! Oh, a real chance missed for Italy when Varney seemed a certainty to charge in when Allan directed his pass towards him. Liam Williams gets over the ball as a group of Italian forwards are felled two metres short, and Danilo Fischetti is forced to cling on.
Italy 3-15 Wales, 22 minutes
14:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy test the defence at the back of Wales’ lineout, which is appropriately formed.
Here goes Varney, dummying thrice to would-be carriers to play out the back, but Edoardo Padovani can’t make particular ground up the right.
Carved open! Delightul run from Tommaso Allan, but his pass isn’t quite right, forcing Stephen Varney to check his run for the line...
Italy 3-15 Wales, 20 minutes
14:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle
The optimism apparent by the strength of the home crowd for kick off has just been punctured slightly with Wales already 12 points in front.
Time for more adventure, it appears, Stephen Varney switching left and right with the Italian forwards starting to get their offloads away. Eventually a penalty comes to allow advancement via the boot.
TRY! Italy 3-15 WALES (Liam Williams try, 18 minutes)
14:37 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Wales pounce again!
Oh, Italy. Again it is from an innocuous situation, Tomas Francis jackalling well to win Wales possession but the score coming far too easily thereafter. Taulupe Faletau picks up and hurls the ball wide slightly wildly, but the bounce causes the defence to stall, allowing Liam Williams to gather and sashay through three would-be tacklers to the line. Weak defence from the hosts - Stephen Varney went too high and was rather easily brushed aside.
Owen Williams misses his conversion.
Italy 3-10 Wales, 17 minutes
14:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Fleeting thoughts of playing from deep for Italy before Allan takes charge and kicks upfield. Wales try to win back possession in the air, Liam Williams contesting strongly, but unable to wrench the ball away from the Italian catcher.
Stolen! The ball breaks free for Taulupe Faletau...
PENALTY! ITALY 3-10 Wales (Tommaso Allan penalty, 16 minutes)
14:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle
It is Tommaso Allan rather than Paolo Garbisi on kicking duties for Italy this afternoon - the full back finds the safe embrace of the stands behind the posts with his first effort. Italy on the board.
Italy 0-10 Wales, 15 minutes
14:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle
The Italian front row goes to work, drawing the sharp blast of the referee’s whistle and the chance to get on the board from the tee.
Italy 0-10 Wales, 14 minutes
14:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A sharply taken punt for touch allows Italy to advance up to the fringes of the Welsh 22, but their wide handling is again strangely inaccurate as an overlap is briefly created.
Wales make a hash of their lineout, though, and Italy can build again from the scrum.
Italy 0-10 Wales, 12 minutes
14:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle
By contrast, that should just swell Wales’ confidence, which was rather in need of repair. They work the phases just inside the Italy half, but eventually lose thrust in midfield after Wyn Jones is well held. Owen Williams kicks ahead and Italy reply with a powerful punt, with Wales then offside as Liam Williams produces a kick of his own.
Italy 0-10 Wales, 11 minutes
14:30 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Kieran Crowley doesn’t look particularly amused as he gazes on from high in the Stadio Olimpico coaching box. Italy haven’t done too much wrong so far, but one cruel bounce and they suddenly find themselves ten points down.
TRY! Italy 0-10 WALES (Rio Dyer try, 10 minutes)
14:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A horrible moment for Pierre Bruno! Oh, the bounce of a rugby ball...
With Welsh possession slow, Rhys Webb lifts a slightly directionless box kick up the left. Bruno appears to have it covered, hurtling across as it skips towards touch, but a horrible inwards hop leaves him totally helpless.
Rio Dyer is there to pick up the scraps, collecting and cantering around beneath the posts. Fortunate, maybe, but that’s exactly the sort of first ten minutes Warren Gatland would have wanted.
Italy 0-3 Wales, 8 minutes
14:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Down the 16 burly blokes go, and down the scrum goes, but Murphy allows Rhys Webb to play away.
A better defensive set from Italy initially, holding their shape and making their tackles. Juan Ignacio Brex shoots out the line to hit the long-striding Mason Grady behind the line.
But the bounce of the ball fools Italy and Wales are in!
Italy 0-3 Wales, 8 minutes
14:25 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A first muscular entanglement for the two front eights - or not, with Damon Murphy calling a halt before the scrum can set. Ah - a bit of blood on Simone Ferrari’s forehead.
He’ll be patched up by a medic.
Italy 0-3 Wales, 7 minutes
14:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Another well executed restart drill from Wales, Rhys Webb this time directing his clearance in field. Edoardo Padovani takes confidently.
Italy spread it for the first time, looking to challenge the left edge, but an errant pass tumbles to floor and a stooping Juan Ignacio Brex fumbles off his shoelaces.
PENALTY! Italy 0-3 WALES (Owen Williams penalty, 6 minutes)
14:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Simple enough for Owen Williams, right of centre and 20 yards out. Wales strike first.
Italy 0-0 Wales, 5 minutes
14:21 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Joe Hawkins hits a hard angle back towards the lineout, chopped at the knees by an axe of a shoulder. Wales begin to build, though, punchy carries off Rhys Webb’s crisp pass and into the Italian 22.
Advantage coming, and Hawkins stabs into touch with an intended pursuer not quite reading his intentions. Back for the penalty, which Wales will kick at goal.
Italy 0-0 Wales, 4 minutes
14:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Beard takes the congratulatory slaps of his teammates as he strides up for the next lineout, which Wales win tidily.
A kick ahead comes to little and Paolo Garbisi clears for touch.
Italy 0-0 Wales, 3 minutes
14:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Another platform for Italy...or not, as Adam Beard’s right paw slaps the ball away to steal the lineout. Italy then infringe at the resultant ruck.
Italy 0-0 Wales, 2 minutes
14:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A jaunty little chip off first phase, challenging the Welsh backfield, which is well formed and covers the space superbly, taken on the slide.
Wales run up towards halfway, Liam Williams looking to scythe to the outside but cut down emphatically. Italian hands get to the ruck ball - penalty to the hosts.
Italy 0-0 Wales, 1 minute
14:17 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Straight to the air for Wales, Rhys Webb dropping ball to right boot and lifting one up the touchline. It travels a metre too far for the contesting Welsh player to hook it back in - a good cahnce for Italy to launch a first attack.
14:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy vs Wales is underway.
Italy vs Wales
14:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Italy will kick us off, Damon Murphy engaging Paolo Garbisi in a quick discussion before the referee gets ready to peep on his whistle.
Here we go...
Italy vs Wales - Anthems
14:15 , Harry Latham-Coyle
The crowd power out “Il Canto degli Italiani”, stirring the Italian squad with kick off near.
14:13 , Harry Latham-Coyle
After a mishap before the Ireland game, the Italians are appropriately drilled on the correct tempo at which to deliver “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”, which is sung heartily by the Welsh squad and a travelling choir. Warren Gatland and his coaching box rise to their feet, a few nervous sways of the shoulders but more than ready. Rhys Webb chomps away on a piece of gum.
Italy vs Wales
14:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Michele Lamaro takes the hand of the young mascot waiting to accompany the Italian side out, flags waving proudly in the stands beyond them. It looks a fine turnout on a gorgeous March afternoon.
Italy vs Wales
14:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Out of the Stadio Olimpico tunnel comes Ken Owens, looking slightly heavy of foot after the exertions of a tough tournament. He’ll be up for battle today, though, deeply exhaling thrice as his teammates join him on the playing surface.
Italy vs Wales - Match Officials
14:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Referee: Damon Murphy (RA)
ARs: Karl Dickson (RFU) & Chris Busby (IRFU)
TMO: Joy Neville (IRFU)
Italy vs Wales
14:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Kick off swiftly approaching at the Stadio Olimpico. There is real energy behind the Italian team, with crowd support beginning to swell after encouraging television audiences over the first few weeks of the tournament.
Italy vs Wales - Italy prop Pietro Ceccarelli has a quick chat with ITV
14:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle
“Now is the time we are going to win. I’m really nervous, I think I’m more nervous than the guys inside.
[What changes with Capuozzo out?] “Nothing. The guys that are on the bench, the guys who are working through the work are the same - we miss ange because he is a nice guy and a very good player.
“100% [today can be the day we win].”
Warren Gatland speaks to ITV
13:57 , Harry Latham-Coyle
“Our challenge is to win as well. We’ve had a good week’s preparation - they know how important today is for all of us, we’ve spoken about that. We need to be smart in the way we play, but we also need to be brave. When those opportunities arrive, move the ball.
[On Rhys Webb] “I think he’s important. He’s been playing well for his region, he brings experience. It is a good chance to see where he is for the rest of the Six Nations and the World Cup.”
“We just need to go out there and be confident and play well.”
Italy vs Wales
13:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle
For the first time in a long time though, you would make Italy favourites. Michele Lamaro spoke well on a couple of podcasts this week about how the Italy squad are adjusting to how the perception of them may change with more and more success. You would hope that they don’t temper any of their attacking verve and vigour despite the weight of expectation.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) March 11, 2023
Italy vs Wales
13:49 , Harry Latham-Coyle
All of the noises coming out of the Welsh camp this week haven’t suggested a particularly enjoyable environment as discussions continue over what the future of rugby in the country looks like. Do this squad have it in them to quieten the critics for an afternoon with a much-needed win?
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏴 (@WelshRugbyUnion) March 11, 2023
Italy vs Wales
13:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle
There has been a fair bit of nasty weather around Europe this week, with high winds prevalent throughout the continent, but it is a balmy afternoon in Rome - crisp spring sunshine and the mercury nudging up towards 20 degress. You’d think that would suit these intrepid Italians.
Taulupe Faletau explains how Wales contract row has impacted performances
13:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Wales star Taulupe Faletau says it is “hard to give your all” against the crushing contractual and financial backdrop that has engulfed Welsh regional rugby.
All four Welsh professional regions – Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets – face major funding cuts, leading to vastly-reduced contract offers for many players whose deals expire at the end of this season, and a player exodus appears inevitable.
Along with issues like Wales’ former 60-cap selection rule and fixed-variable contracts, off-field problems led to the threat of a players’ strike before the Six Nations clash against England last month.
Although a strike was averted and the England game went ahead as scheduled, Wales suffered a third successive Six Nations defeat.
And they now head to Rome for an appointment with Italy on Saturday, when another loss would effectively mean a first wooden spoon since Wales lost all five championship fixtures in 2003.
“It is just unfortunate, and the situation we are all in at the moment is not great for anyone involved,” said Cardiff number eight Faletau.
Warren Gatland identifies Italy threat that could ‘punish’ Wales in Six Nations clash
13:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle
The only countries without a Six Nations win this season go head to head at Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
It is 20 years since Wales finished bottom of the pile and were wooden spoon recipients, but that scenario could now easily unfold.
Successive defeats against Ireland, Scotland and England have left Wales scrambling around the Six Nations basement, yet to break their points duck and scoring only three tries in more than four hours of rugby.
Italy are one point above them, courtesy of a losing bonus collected against France, but six tries in losses to Les Bleus, England and Ireland showcased an adventurous approach.
“They are definitely the most athletic (Italy) side that we’ve seen,” Wales head coach Warren Gatland said.
“They try to play a wide-wide game. They have had some success in the tournament, but they have also been squeezed.”
Six Nations 2023: Italy vs Wales
13:31 , Jamie Braidwood
Warren Gatland has revealed that a threat of possible player strike action before Wales’ Six Nations clash against England caused “quite a significant split” and “tension” within his squad.
Wales head to Rome for a Six Nations appointment with Italy on Saturday, having lost their opening three games. Another defeat, and a first Six Nations wooden spoon for 20 years beckons, given that Wales’ final fixture is against France in Paris.
Although a strike was averted and the England game went ahead as scheduled, with Steve Borthwick’s team winning 20-10, Wales head coach Gatland said: “In terms of the stuff that was going on off the field, that definitely had an impact.
“There was quite a significant split in the group over which way to go, and I think that definitely caused some tension within the group for a couple of weeks.”
Number eight battle of new and old
13:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Two standouts for each side before the second fallow week were the number eights, Lorenzo Cannone’s canters catching the eye for Italy against Ireland and Taulupe Faletau showing all his wiles in Cardiff.
Faletau may no longer have quite the athleticism that once made him such a menace in wide channels but he is still playing at a consistently high level. Warren Gatland’s back row selections have been a touch confusing during this campaign but there isn’t a huge amount of depth beneath Faletau at number eight, so you would think he’ll remain a key figure throughout the next six months or so – his sort of big-game character and experience could be key today.
His opposite number is more than ten years his junior but there is hope that Cannone can now kick on and make a back row berth his own. Toa Halafihi will be back at some point and offers real solidity at the base but Cannone’s long-striding, hard-hitting ability understandably appeals to Kieran Crowley. It is always worth remembering how young this Italian squad is – at 22, Paolo Garbisi is the oldest of the key core quartet at 8, 9, 10 and 12. This feels like a good afternoon for a statement performance from Italy but there is so much more development yet to come.
Italy opt for Tommaso Allan at full back
13:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle
The loss of Ange Capuozzo is obviously a major blow for Italy, the quick-as-a-hiccup full back so at the heart of their attacking game over the last few weeks. But reinstating Tommaso Allan to the starting side is a shrewd move from Kieran Crowley, who could have looked to shift Edoardo Padovani to full back and make further changes but instead installs an extra specialist ten into his backline.
Allan and Paolo Garbisi worked well together in combination against Samoa in the autumn and the Harlequins fly-half has looked very tidy in the backfield whenever required for his club in the Premiership this year. He won’t quite threaten Wales in the way Capuozzo does but an extra controller might be no bad thing, and Italy still have plenty of counter-attacking acumen.
Every attack that has faced Wales so far has been able to manipulate space, and variation both from set piece strike moves and in phase play has been a feature of Italy’s tournament. With Allan and Garbisi they can split left and right with a playmaker each way for further attacking diversity to test the Welsh defence.
Warren Gatland backs Ospreys familiarity for improved attacking output
13:19 , Harry Latham-Coyle
If there was a positive for Wales to take from the first two games this year against Ireland and Scotland, it was that their attack was creating chances – just not necessarily taking them. Their red zone conversion rate was historically bad in Rounds One and Two, but the underlying metrics at least suggested that there was more points scoring to come once Wales tightened up their work in the opposition 22. Against England…well, that didn’t quite pan out, with Wales largely unable to create consistent opportunities. But for Louis Rees-Zammit’s intercept score it would have been an ugly day indeed on the scoreboard, and they must rebound this afternoon.
Warren Gatland has put his faith in a playmaking axis from the Ospreys to deliver that improvement. Rhys Webb is back in favour at nine, while Owen Williams will be hoping for a more influential performance as he continues to get a slightly surprising run at seizing the ten shirt. Joe Hawkins’ tidy tournament bodes well for the future but this might be a day for the young inside centre to really step up against a similarly tender but talented 12 in Tommaso Menoncello.
Six Nations 2023: Italy vs Wales
13:15 , Jamie Braidwood
Wales captain Ken Owens has reflected on a “hugely emotional time” for Welsh rugby ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations clash against Italy in Rome.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland revealed on Thursday that a threat of possible player strike action before the Six Nations appointment with England last month caused a significant split and tension within his squad.
A crushing contractual and financial backdrop has engulfed Welsh regional rugby, with all four professional teams - Cardiff, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets - facing major funding cuts leading to vastly-reduced contract offers for many players whose deals expire at the end of this season, and a player exodus appears inevitable.
Owens said: “In those two weeks, there was high emotion and a lot of different opinions, which is good. Every player in the squad is in a different situation in their career and where they are at in terms of contracting at the moment.
“It was a hugely emotional time for different reasons. The whole group were mature about it and a decision was made democratically - we all bought into that. That was two weeks ago now, and we have had time just to prepare and concentrate on the rugby, and that is what we will be doing tomorrow.
“There has been a lot going on off the field, which has been tough to deal with at times. It is what it is, and we have to get on with things.”
Team News – Wales
13:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Warren Gatland again makes significant changes to the Wales 23, with the starting side this week bearing six changes. Alun Wyn Jones drops out entirely with Daffyd Jenkins backed to partner Adam Beard at lock, while Jac Morgan and Justin Tipuric are the chosen colleagues for Taulupe Faletau one row further back.
Rhys Webb makes his first start of the tournament at scrum-half, with Owen Williams outside him and Dan Biggar another standout exclusion from the matchday squad. With no specialist ten elsewhere, Joe Hawkins will cover fly half alongside bidding to further bed in his nascent partnership with Mason Grady in the centres.
Wales XV: Wyn Jones, Ken Owens (capt.), Tomas Francis; Daffyd Jenkins, Adam Beard; Jac Morgan, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau; Rhys Webb, Owen Williams; Rio Dyer, Joe Hawkins, Mason Grady, Josh Adams; Liam Williams.
Replacements: Scott Baldwin, Gareth Thomas, Dillon Lewis, Rhys Davies, Tommy Reffell; Tomos Williams, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit.
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏴 (@WelshRugbyUnion) March 9, 2023
Team News - Italy
13:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Disappointingly, Ange Capuozzo’s Six Nations is over due to a hand injury, prompting an enforced change from Kieran Crowley. It is the only one to the Italian starting fifteen, with Tommaso Allan pushed into a full back role he has fulfilled at times for Harlequins this season – the playmaker may lack Capuozzo’s dynamic, free-running threat but adds another kicker and distributor to Italy’s funky, adventurous attack.
On the bench, Crowley returns to a 6:2 split, with Manuel Zuliani recalled to the matchday 23 to provide cover for a back row that impressed against Ireland.
Italy XV: Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera, Simone Ferrari; Niccolo Cannone, Federico Ruzza; Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro (capt.), Lorenzo Cannone; Stephen Varney, Paolo Garbisi; Pierre Bruno, Tommaso Menoncello, Juan Ignacio Brex, Edoardo Padovani; Tommaso Allan.
Replacements: Luca Bigi, Federico Zani, Marco Riccioni, Edoardo Iachizzi, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani; Alessandro Fusco, Luca Morisi.
Kieran #Crowley ha scelto il XV in campo per l'incontro con il Galles del @SixNationsRugby 2023 ➡ https://t.co/pNYcvlRE9W
📍Stadio Olimpico, Roma
🏉 Sabato 11/3, kick off h 15.15
📺 @SkySport 1 ▪ @NOWTV_It @TV8it pic.twitter.com/wltDfkE1m2
— Italrugby (@Federugby) March 9, 2023
Six Nations 2023
13:02 , Jamie Braidwood
When is Italy vs Wales?
Wales take on Italy in Rome today, Saturday 11 March, at 2.15pm GMT.
How to watch on TV and online
Italy vs Wales will be broadcast live on free-to-air channels ITV, S4C and STV. To live-stream the game online, viewers can access the ITVX, S4C and STV websites and apps.
Six Nations 2023
12:17 , Luke Baker
ï»¿Welcome to The Independent's live coverage of the 2023 Six Nations.
ï»¿Round 4 delivers two fascinating matches to kick us off with Italy and Wales battling to avoid the wooden spoon in Rome before an England side with Marcus Smith at fly half host France at Twickenham.
ï»¿Stick with us as we bring you all the action.