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The Italy rugby team has played international rugby since 1929, and for decades was considered one of the leading European teams outside the Five Nations Championship of the four Home Unions and France.

In 2000 Italy was added to the Championship which then became known as the Six Nations Championship.

Italy rugby, with a small player base, has not been very successful in this competition and, after some heavy initial defeats, the Azzurri, as the team is known, has improved noticeably.

One-sided defeats have become less frequent in recent years and they have shocked some leading teams in the competition as well as South Africa (20-18 in 2016).

They nevertheless lost more than 20 successive Championship matches since the 2015 tournament’s third round.

Italy has played in all nine World Cup tournaments since 1987 but is yet to progress beyond the first round.

They are regarded as a team consistently in the middle of the result range at World Cup tournaments.