The Italian Almanac

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Italy vs Australia (ouch)

Italian Sport - January 27

Italy coach Pierre Berbizier has set his sights on the modest target of one victory in this year's Six Nations tournament. "For us the objective is to play every match at 100 per cent, Berbizier told reporters today. "If we do that then at least one victory is possible."

The former France captain, who also coached his country to victory in the Five Nations in 1993, is being careful not to make rash statements about Italy's chances. Former All Black John Kirwan, who he replaced last April, said Italy were capable of winning the Six Nations within five years when he became coach in 2002. He was sacked by the Italian Rugby Federation after the Azzurri lost all five of their games in last season's competition.

Berbizier made a good start to his career as Italy coach last November with convincing victories over Tonga and Fiji, and a lively display against Argentina, in which Italy held their own against the Pumas before going down 39-22. His introduction to the Six Nations, however, promises to be a baptism of fire. Italy open their campaign against Ireland at Lansdowne Road on February 4 before a home game against world champions England a week later. Italy then travel to take on France on February 25.

Berbizier has made a point of turning to youth as he tries to reverse Italy's recent disappointing Six Nations results. His 25-man squad has an average age of 24 and there was no room in it for halfback and former captain Alessandro Troncon, who is considered by many to be Italy's greatest-ever player, but whose form has been erratic over the past couple of seasons.