Italy boss Smith says Six Nations flops need patience

London (AFP) –


Italy coach Franco Smith has urged his side to lay the foundations for long-term success rather than simply concentrate on ending their woeful Six Nations run at "any cost".

The Azzurri head into their match against reigning title-holders England at Twickenham having lost their past 28 championship matches in a run dating back to 2015.

England have won all 27 previous encounters between the two teams and it would be one of the all-time great upsets were Italy to end that sequence on Saturday.

Eddie Jones' men started their 2021 Six Nations campaign with an 11-6 home loss to Scotland last weekend.

Italy, however, were humbled 50-10 by France, a resounding defeat that led to renewed calls for relegation to be introduced into the Six Nations.

"The mountain in front of us is high, very high, but there is a road that goes up there and we will be on that road," Smith said on Friday.

"It's up to us to plot that journey and that is what we are doing. Our main opponents are not England, but ourselves. That is who we must focus on," the South African added.

"We must also not be worried about getting the monkey off our back, looking to get one win in the championship at any cost.

"If that is all we work towards then it will be another five or six years before the next victory."

The former Springbok fly-half said it was a time for "new icons" in Italian rugby.

"I firmly believe that ending this drought will come from concentrating on how we play, on our basics, on quality actions, on being clinical and accurate."