This is a case where the adage “winning isn’t everything” is very true.
Italy might be a football-mad nation in which other sports hardly get a look-in, but on the weekend a remarkable example of how Italian tastes and passtimes are changing took place.
The high passion, tradition and grand past of rugby union was all the rage on the weekend with the Azzurri playing the All Blacks.
The Italy-New Zealand rugby match at Milan’s San Siro stadium on Saturday night saw a record crowd of about 80,000 people attend.
Italy lost 6-20, though New Zealand only scored one try, winning the other points on penalties.
Controversy surrounds the closing minutes of the match, with talk that Italy was robbed of a technical try that it should have been awarded.
If you think that it doesn’t matter because Italy wouldn’t have won anyway, you don’t understand the great pride the Italians have in the opportunity of playing against a team they consider to be one of the greats in international rugby, and therefore also the great honour that would result in scoring a try.
The “All Blacks” hold an enormous fascination for Italians, more than any other rugby playing national team in the world.
The haka is something compelling for the Italians, although the national anthem “Fratelli d’Italia” was something to send shivers down your spine on Saturday.
With foreign irony at the stadium regarding the Italians inability to queue or doing anything in an orderly fashion, it was a meeting of two different cultures at a sports match which will be remembered by who was present for a long time yet.
Italy vs All Blacks San Siro