Italy captain Ross Vintcent believes his side can put a smile back on the face of the country’s rugby fans with victory over England in the Under-20 Six Nations Summer Series Finals Day, writes Josh Graham in Treviso.
Italy’s senior side went down 28-19 away to Georgia in Batumi on Sunday but after recording their first ever Under-20s victory over England in this year’s Six Nations, Vintcent believes his side can repeat the trick on Tuesday in Treviso to lift the spirits of supporters.
The No.8 missed the historic 6-0 win in February with Covid but will lead the Azzurrini out at the same venue, Benetton’s Stadio Comunale di Monigo, after recovering from a quad injury which ruled him out of the 23-20 defeat to Wales in Round 3.
Vintcent, 20, said: “Italy weren’t their usual self, they didn’t play their game. They let Georgia build points and put pressure on the scoreboard, so it would be great to come out in front of the home fans and put a smile on their faces.
“England are going to bring absolute fire, they lost here last time. They are going to be really hungry for that win. They’ve got a good squad and had a good win against France, so they have got some good momentum coming into this.”
Francois Carlo Mey played in February’s Six Nations win over Alan Dickens’ side and wants a repeat of those joyous memories before he returns to Naples to finish school with an architecture exam.
The outside centre, who will link up with his new French side Clermont Auvergne over the summer, said: “We won last time we played them but we know it is going to be a different match.
“They have a few extra players that came in for the Summer Series and we know we need to put everything on the pitch to try and win the game.
“There was a lot of joy and pride to represent Italy and win against one of the best teams in the world that won last year’s Six Nations.
“We’ve had a great season but it would be nice to end with a win for all of the [players born in] 2002s that finish this year, it’s going to be a nice way to finish.”
Both sides finished second in their respective pools and South Africa-born Vintcent, who grew up in Dubai and qualifies for Italy through his Sicilian grandfather, believes the Summer Series has been crucial for a group of players who have missed out on so much during the pandemic.
“I think it has been a great building block, especially for the youngsters,” added Vintcent, who is swapping Zebre for Exeter University in September with the long-term goal of making his way into Rob Baxter’s thoughts at Exeter Chiefs.
“A lot of guys made their debut, a lot of 2003s here which is really promising for future years and we even have two 18-year-olds, which is great.
“It has been a really special series considering the World Cup was cancelled which was obviously gutting, it’s going to be tough to leave this group of guys.
“Our last year of school was cancelled and we were all devastated, so it would be really great to finish this series with a win.”