"Never Been Beaten" - Head to Head: England vs Italy - Ruck

“Never Been Beaten” – Head to Head: England vs Italy

England kick-off their 2024 Six Nations tournament this afternoon, with excitement building ahead of their match against Italy. Steve Borthwick’s side are warming up in Rome, which is providing the perfect setting for this gladiatorial clash.

This fixture marks the 31st meeting between England and Italy, and the Azzurri are still searching for their first victory against today’s visitors. England come into the match boasting a perfect 30-0 record over the Italians, with Borthwick’s men heavily favoured once again for this Six Nations opening round match.

Freddie Steward of England talks with Ellis Genge, Captain of England after the Summer Nations Series Rugby match between Wales and England at Principality Stadium on August 5, 2023 in Cardiff, Wales. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

However, records are made to be broken, with Italy boasting an exciting array of talent headed by their new coach Gonzalo Quesada. If Italy defeat England in Quesada’s first match in charge, then this match will long be remembered in Azzurri folklore. So, ahead of this battle within the 2024 Six Nations, here is a head to head run down between the two sides.

FIRST MEETING: England 36-6 Italy – 1991 Rugby World Cup

8th October 1991, Twickenham Stadium

England’s second match of the 1991 Rugby World Cup pool stages, the host nation returned to winning form after an opening round defeat to the All Blacks. England ran out a one-sided win in their first on-field meeting with the Italians, with Jeremy Guscott crossing over for a brace of tries at Twickenham. England’s all-time top try scorer Rory Underwood got amongst the scoring action, as did fullback Jonathan Webb, who added a try and eight points from the boot.

BIGGEST ENGLAND WIN: England 80-23 Italy – 2001 Six Nations Championships

17th February 2001, Twickenham Stadium

England’s record-setting margin of victory against Italy came in their seventh meeting, with the 2001 Six Nations hosting the landslide. The 57-point margin of victory has stood the test of time, yet a determined new breed of England talents could well try and eclipse this record in this afternoon’s match. England scored eight tries on the day, with Iain Balshaw and Austin Healy each grabbing a brace. The additional scorers included Ben Cohen, Laurence Dallaglio, Will Greenwood, Mark Reagan, Jonny Wilkinson and Joe Worsley.

BIGGEST ENGLAND WIN IN ROME: Italy 12-59 England – 2000 Six Nations Championships

18th March 2000, Stadio Flamino

With the aforementioned ’01 drubbing at Twickenham providing England with their biggest win overall, the Italians have been able to hold stronger when the two sides have met Rome. More on those closer results shortly, yet England did rack up a 59-12 win at the Stadio Flamino back in the inaugural Six Nations.

On the turn of the new Millennium, Italy were added to the competition to expand the Five Nations, and England pulled no punches on their opening trip to Rome. An Austin Healy hat-trick, coupled with braces from Ben Cohen and Matt Dawson, along with a penalty try, built an unobtainable and as yet unrepeated margin of victory.

CLOSEST RESULT: England 27-20 Italy (1995) / England 18-11 Italy (2013)

The closest Italy have come to upsetting the odds against England, was a seven point defeat across two occasions. Firstly, at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, England narrowly surpassed the Azzurri in a pool stage match, much to the annoyance of any South African ‘neutrals’ inside Durban’s Kings Park Stadium. The seven-point score-line happened again in the 2013 Six Nations, with Italy close to upsetting the hosts in front of a frustrated Twickenham crowd.