96-point New Zealand humiliate Italy

New Zealand's Will Jordan celebrates scoring their twelfth try

This was a serious statement of intent from New Zealand. Ian Foster’s side may have been operating under the radar since their opening round defeat by France. But this ruthless and relentless dismantling of what is widely regarded as the best Italy side in a decade not only effectively sealed the All Blacks’ place in the World Cup quarter-finals, but fired a significant warning shot to their heavyweight rivals.

One wonders what Ireland head coach Andy Farrell made of the 14-try rout. Much of the narrative following his side’s victory over defending champions South Africa has been on a potential quarter-final encounter with New Zealand.

The All Blacks were comfortable victors over Ireland in the quarter-finals in Japan four years ago; the rematch could be equally as challenging despite Ireland’s impressive start to their campaign.

What is certain is that the All Blacks have reinstated their World Cup credentials with this stunning mis-match against a Six Nations side on the night that Sam Whitelock became the most capped New Zealander of all time, surpassing Richie McCaw’s record of 148 caps.

It had been presented as something of a judgement day for New Zealand, given that defeat against Italy would have resulted in a pool-stage exit for the first time in their history, yet the only record on the line was their previous best scoreline against Italy, their 101-3 victory in the 1999 tournament.

By half-time Foster’s side had already crossed for seven tries, including a hat-trick in just seven minutes for the mercurial scrum-half Aaron Smith. Ardie Savea also bagged two tries with Will Jordan and Mark Telea adding to the tally.

The rout continued after the break, despite tries for Italy from Ange Capuozzo and Montanna Ioane, with further scores by Brodie Retallick, Dalton Papali’i, Coles (2), Telea, Damian McKenzie, Jordan and Anton Lienert-Brown.

All Blacks humble Italy: As it happened. . .

10:37 PM BST

The All Blacks celebrate

Sam Whitelock waves to the crowd after becoming New Zealand's most capped player
Sam Whitelock waves to the crowd after becoming New Zealand's most capped player - Getty Images/Cameron Spencer
New Zealand's Ardie Savea (L) and Italy's Toa Halafihi share a smile
New Zealand's Ardie Savea (L) and Italy's Toa Halafihi share a smile - Shutterstock/Guillaume Horcajuelo

10:14 PM BST

Tomaso Allan:

It was very tough. Obviously, when you give so many penalties away against New Zealand, they are going to keep scoring.

We lost all our scrums, lost all our lineouts - its tough to start from that.

They kept getting advantages and just playing without any pressure. When they do that, they are the best in the world at that.

We didn’t help ourselves. I don’t know how many penalties we gave away. Probably 20.

We talked at half time about trying to get some confidence for next week. We know it’s going to be as tough as this, if not tougher.

10:08 PM BST

Jordie Barrett:

Its very pleasing. We treated our preparation with Italy with utmost respect

At some periods tonight they troubled us a wee bit.

It’s massively satisfying, we didn’t start the tournament the way we wanted to.

It was about 20 degrees at kick off and you’ve got to be able to control the ball. A lot of teams are kicking it. You have to find ways to cherish it when you have it, and it worked tonight.

We’ve got Uruguay in front of us in six days time, and we’re not going to treat that any differently.

10:04 PM BST

Sean Fitzpatrick on New Zealand's accuracy

10:02 PM BST

Whitelock breaks caps record

10:01 PM BST

All Blacks captain Ardie Savea

I’m very grateful. We put a lot of ‘mahi’ in in the by week. All the boys who put that effort in tonight, I’m very proud.

We’ve got talent across the board. We haven’t really clicked but tonight we played from free rugby. That’s how I want my boys to play.

09:54 PM BST

TRY ITALY! 80 min NZL 96 ITA 17

A consolation prize for Italy!

With the clock ticking into the red, Italy mount one final attack to try to get something from this game.

They break up-field and work the ball to the left to get inside the New Zealand 22. But it’s all happening in slow motion.

The push the ball back to the right to Paulo Idogwu who steps inside Telea and offloads to Ioane.

The Italian winger dives for the line and bounces into the corner while being challenged.

There is some speculation about whether his foot catches the line, but a generous TMO decision appears to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Italy get the conversion to eek out two more points, but it will make little difference to how the players out on the pitch feel.

New Zealand have laid down a marker.

The final score: New Zealand 96 - 17 Italy.

Monty Ioane scores a consolation try at the death for Italy
Monty Ioane scores a consolation try at the death for Italy - Getty Images/Chris Hyde

09:46 PM BST


New Zealand score again, and they are into the 90s.

This time replacement scrum-half Cam Roigard runs an inside line off Dane Coles and charges into green space. He draws the full-back across then passes to his right to Lienert-Brown to add another score.

McKenzie adds the extras.

Anton Lienert-Brown goes in under the sticks
Anton Lienert-Brown goes in under the sticks - AFP/Sebastien Bozon

09:44 PM BST


Another score for the All Blacks.

This time they look to have butchered the opportunity after going for a cross-kick. But they have an advantage and catch Italy Rip van Winkle.

They move the ball wide to Coles who scores in the right corner

Dane Coles strolls in for his second try of the night
Dane Coles strolls in for his second try of the night - Reuters/Paul Childs

09:40 PM BST


It’s another try for New Zelanad, and this reporter can barely keep up.

Ioane puts in a big hit and the ball breaks free.

Jordan gathers and runs down the right-hand touchline before putting the chip in.

It’s chased well by Savea and the bounce is kind for the big No 8.

He catches with outstretched arms and offloads back to Jordan who scores another.

The conversion is good.

09:39 PM BST


Damian McKenzie joins the party with a sumptuous try.

New Zealand go right off the scrum with Anton Lienert-Brown running hard at first receiver.

He then switches with McKenzie wrapping round, who gets on the outside shoulder of his defender.

With one man to beat, the replacement fly-half shows his sterength to put in a big fend and his momentum takes him over the line.

Damian McKenzie of New Zealand scores his team's eleventh try
Damian McKenzie of New Zealand scores his team's eleventh try - Getty Images /Cameron Spencer

09:36 PM BST

66 min NZL 68 ITA 10

It’s no problem for the All Blacks pack though who march the opposition backwards and win a penalty.

They look to play under advantage, but the ball is brought back for a scrum.

09:35 PM BST

65 min NZL 68 ITA 10

Damian McKenzie has just come on and he already looks like he’s running the show.

The backline wizard wearing no 22 tonight first whips out a giant miss-pass to release his right winger then receives the return ball on the inside.

He then chucks an outrageous blind offload over his head to Beauden Barrett, and it’s showtime now for the All Blacks here in Lyon.

They look to have a good attacking opportunity set, but Cane makes a basic knock-on to let-off Italy. He has been under pressure coming back into this team, and that won’t help his confidence.

09:32 PM BST

63 min NZL 68 ITA 10

It feels as if the energy has been sapped from this Italy attack.

This time, a moment of indecision allows Mark Telea to hold up the Italian player in the tackle.

All Black reinforcements flood in, and they manage to hold it up. New Zealand have a scrum just inside their own half to the left.

09:30 PM BST


New Zealand have shown expert variation at the lineout this game - one time driving, the next time going off the top.

On this occasion, they shape to drive, then Sam Cane breaks blind early from the base.

He fixes the final defender and pops outside to his old mate hooker Dane Coles, who has remained in the tram lines.

Coles goes over in the corner and pumps the air in celebration.

Mo’unga misses his first conversion of the night.

Dane Coles beams as he scores his team's thirteenth try
Dane Coles beams as he scores his team's thirteenth try - Getty Images/Michael Steele

09:27 PM BST

59 min NZL 63 ITA 10

New Zealand maintain their total dominance at the scrum, winning another penalty which they kick to the corner inside the Italy 22.

09:27 PM BST

58 min NZL 63 ITA 10

New Zealand have thrown all their bench on, including captain Sam Cane - who gets his first minutes of the tournament.

His first act will be to take part in a scrum after an All Blacks knock-on.

Despite the try count remaining high, New Zealand have been a little sloppier in possession this second half.

They will hope to tighten things up with the arrival of reinforcements.

09:25 PM BST


There has been a consistent theme to Italy’s woes - and that is the set piece.

This time they over-throw, and Codie Taylor latches onto it.

Mark Telea is wise to the loose ball and runs a good line off Taylor. He then has the power to break the first tackle and offload to Papali’i.

The offload isn’t perfect, and the flanker catches the ball half behind his back. But the big man shows some deft touch to control the ball before sticking it up the jumper and putting in a big fend to go over.

Mo’unga slots another simple conversion.

Dalton Papali'i of New Zealand scores the team's ninth try
Dalton Papali'i of New Zealand scores the team's ninth try - Getty Images/Paul Harding

09:22 PM BST

54 min NZL 56 ITA 10

Italy play a glorious move from left to right, busting up the right flank.

They then move it back left and put in a cross-field kick which falls inches from Telea’s hands.

Capuozzo does well to gather though and and keeps the ball in-field before, amazingly, looking to run it out.

As he shapes to kick, Telea runs back to snag his ankle, and the ball bursts free to Jordan.

Jordan then charges to the line in the left corner and is tackled by a covering defender.

He looks to have gone over, but the TMO replay shows he has put in an illegal roll.

Italy clear to outside their 22.

Ange Capuozzo, left, does well to field the ball and keep out Mark Telea
Ange Capuozzo, left, does well to field the ball and keep out Mark Telea - Getty Images /Cameron Spencer

09:19 PM BST

52 min NZL 56 ITA 10

There’s been an injection of energy into the game since half-time.

Suddenly there’s an air of feistiness. It started with a Capuozzo push on Retallick and escalated with some afters following the Capuozzo try.

Italy are clearly fired up, but they must keep this under control.

09:17 PM BST


But just as Italy get a sniff, they get the basics wrong with their exit.

Scott Barrett and Retallick put pressure on the scrum-half’s kick and force the charge down.

The big men then pile through, with Retallick ending up with the ball and crashing over the line.

It’s not pretty, but Retallick won’t care.

Mo’unga kicks the conversion.

Lock Brodie Retallick, centre, crashes over the line
Lock Brodie Retallick, centre, crashes over the line - AFP/Sebastien Bozon

09:15 PM BST

TRY ITALY! 48 min NZL 49 ITA 10

The Azzurri strike back.

Finally Italy win their own ball and get a good maul set.

They inch forwards before feeding Allan at fly-half.

In midfield, Ioane puts in a smart hitch-kick to beat New Zealand’s Rieko Ioane and suck in the outside defender.

Monty Ioane skips away from Rieko Ioane to put Capuozzo into the corner
Monty Ioane skips away from Rieko Ioane to put Capuozzo into the corner - Getty Images/Michael Steele

He then feeds Capuozzo who has a foot-race for the right-hand corner.

We saw Jordan’s spectacular dive in the first half. Capuozzo says two can play at that game and kicks his legs out as he dives for the corner.

Allan, who is having another superb game against all odds, continues his perfect record off the tee.

09:11 PM BST

47 min NZL 49 ITA 3

But the All Blacks give away another penalty, and again Allan kicks a laser-beam boot to the corner.

09:11 PM BST

45 min NZL 49 ITA 3

Allan will be furious with his forward pack. After doing his bit by nailing the five-metre line with the kick, Italy again lose the ball at the lineout - this time due to an under-throw.

09:10 PM BST

44 min NZL 49 ITA 3

These sort of gambles don’t always pay off though.

Italy lose the ball at the lineout and then give away a peanlty for off-feet.

The All Blacks look to clear but miss touch themselves after some smart work on the touchline from the Italian winger.

Italy kick and Jordan tries to run it back, but he is isolated and Italy win a penalty. They then kick to the corner for a first proper tilt at the line of the half.

This half has started at the same breathless pace as the last, but it’s no longer one way traffic.

09:08 PM BST

43 min NZL 49 ITA 3

Italy have the ball again and bust into the New Zealand 22.

They force the penalty from a twichy New Zealand defence, who are pinged for offside.

Allan kicks for the corner. Realistically, it’s their only option with the deficit at 46 points.

09:06 PM BST

40 min NZL 49 ITA 3

We’re back under way here.

To add insult to injury for Italy, that first half was the most points they have ever conceded in the first 40 of a test match.

Coach Crowley will hope his side come out fired up after the break.

From the opening carries, things already look more positive.

Garbisi breaks nicely after a wrap move in midfield from Italy. He passes to Allan with Jordie Barrett to beat on the right wing, but the Italy 10 is bundled into touch.

Much better from the Azzurri.

09:04 PM BST

What went wrong in that first half for Italy?

09:02 PM BST

Some serious talent on that All Blacks bench...

08:58 PM BST

New Zealand dominate

It’s been a breathless half of rugby, with New Zealand in full flight from the off.

After all the talk in the week of the All Blacks being off colour, and this being a must-win game, they have certainly answered their critics in this first-half.

They set about their business with almost medical precision, busting the Italian line over and again and immediately flooding through to capitalise.

Italy were left with no time to react, and before they know it, they were three tries down and treading water. Worryingly for Italy, the All Blacks may have another gear to click into.

For Italy, they must now regroup and work out a plan to subdue this New Zealand momentum. They swore to come here and play test rugby - and they started well, choosing to take the points when they were on offer.

Where they have struggled is at the breakdown and set piece. Each time they have looked to run and play, they have been stifled by dogged All Blacks work at the breakdown.

From there, it has been the same old routine from New Zealand, who have repeatedly kicked to the corner before using their set-piece to launch another charge at the Italian line.

At half time, the scores are New Zealand 49 - 3 Italy.

08:50 PM BST

40 min NZL 49 ITA 3

New Zealand set another good maul at the lineout - this is proving a ruthlessly efficient tactic - and march in-field.

Savea ends up with the ball at the back, and spots a half-gap emerge in front as Italy defenders are sucked into the maul.

The All Blacks captain breaks and dives under centre Luca Morisi to score.

Mo’unga maintains his perfect tally off the tee to add the conversion.

Richie Mo'unga maintains a perfect tally off the kicking tee
Richie Mo'unga maintains a perfect tally off the kicking tee - Getty Images/Michael Steele

08:48 PM BST

40 min NZL 35 ITA 3

Italy do well off the lineout to hold back the flood gates, but New Zealand have another penalty advantage - this time for Italy being off their feet at the ruck.

Mo’unga tries to circumvent the need for the penalty by launching a late cross-field kick to Codie Taylor.

The hooker, who isn’t short of a yard of pace, charges after the ball, ending with a flying belly flop as he desperately reaches to touch down.

Unfortunately for Taylor, his hooker’s arms aren’t quite long enough. He dusts himself off before throwing at the lineout.

08:45 PM BST

40 min NZL 35 ITA 3

New Zealand crash into the Italy defence, carrying to up within five metres of the line.

Eventually the ball is brought back for the penalty after a Mo’unga knock-on, and New Zealand go to the corner.

08:44 PM BST

40 min NZL 35 ITA 3

With seconds to go before the half-way point, the All Blacks win a penalty.

It’s another one at the breakdown. They know Italy will want to run everything in the wide channels, and they have clearly planned to isolate them in these positions.

The kick the lineout into the Italy 22 - New Zealand want one more before half-time as they play under advantage.

08:42 PM BST

38 min NZL 35 ITA 3

New Zealand kick to touch with a clearance - it feels like the first time they have done that all match.

Finally Italy stretch the New Zealand defence, getting outside them on the left wing.

They play back to midfield but lose the ball as Dino Lamb is thumped backwards in the tackle.

Jordan chips and chases down the line, applying further pressure. But New Zealand are penalised at the next breakdown for going off their feet.

Italy clear to their own 10.

08:40 PM BST

37 min NZL 35 ITA 3

New Zealand have made 408 metres so far compared to Italy’s 176.

But the numbers don’t say it all, it’s New Zealand’s ruthlessness once they have made a break that has been truly remarkable.

08:37 PM BST


But they atone immediately.

Italy kick upfield and Will Jordan runs it back.

Off the ensuing ruck, the All Blacks set their attack early and play out the back beautifully through Richie Mo’unga, who holds his pass just late enough to send Jordie Barrett clean through.

Aaron Smith tracks in front of the ball on the inside, leaving him in the perfect position to accept the pass when Barrett approaches the full-back.

The New Zealand scrum-half goes under the sticks for his first ever hat-trick in an All Blacks jersey.

Mo’unga kicks the conversion from straight in front.

08:34 PM BST

32 min NZL 35 ITA 3

Another rare error from New Zealand, who knock-on. That’s two in the first half (shock, horror!).

08:33 PM BST

31 min NZL 35 ITA 3

But they cannot.

New Zealand are awarded a free-kick for Italy stepping back on the engage.

The All Blacks show intent from midfield by opting for another scrum. They clearly feel they have the psychological advantage at the set-piece.

08:32 PM BST

30 min NZL 35 ITA 3

A rare mistake from New Zealand, just as they looked as if they were about to mount another tilt at the Italian line.

The ball is knocked on giving Italy a scrum - and with it a chance to re-set.

Italy must win clean ball here and put some phases together to gather themselves.

08:30 PM BST


It won’t make the highlight reel, but it’s simple, ruthless rugby at it’s very best.

New Zealand set a maul off the lineout and drive it up to the five-metre line.

Aaron Smith is screaming for it, and Codie Taylor breaks at the last minute, just holding his opposition defender.

This gives Smith the space to step back inside and dive into the corner for his second try.

Mo’unga is having a dream day off the kicking tee and adds the conversion from wide right.

The All Blacks have five tries from five entries into the opposition 22 so far. A truly clinical display.

Aaron Smith scores his second try of the night
Aaron Smith scores his second try of the night - Getty Images/Michael Steele

08:27 PM BST

25 min NZL 28 ITA 3

New Zealand put pressure on at the scrum - an area they have focused on after being humbled by South Africa and France - and come away with a penalty.

They kick up the right touchline for another lineout in the opposition 22. It’s the same old routine, and it looks ominous now...

08:25 PM BST


New Zealand are running away with it here, and Italy look shell-shocked.

They win another penalty at the breakdown and kick for the corner.

Showing good variation at the line-out, they shape to set a maul and then tip to Ardie Savea flooding round the corner.

Running full pelt and with one man to beat in Lamaro, he curves his run to wrong-foot the defender and glides over with ease.

Another easy conversion for Mo’unga.

08:22 PM BST


Vintage All Blacks.

Straight from the kick off, Ardie Savea busts in midfield and runs half the length of the field up to the Italian 22.

He offloads to Jordie Barrett who meanders left looking for support.

The centre finds it in the form of Mark Telea who gathers on the left wing and still has a lot to do.

With Italy’s defence corner-flagging, the powerful winger cuts in and bashes off at least three tackles - shades of Julian Savea vs France in 2019 - before riding a final challenge to reach over. Magnificent flowing rugby.

Mo’unga kicks the conversion.

08:18 PM BST


New Zealand get clean ball off the lineout and look to a maul.

Jordan comes in to egg the drive on, and Aaron Smith steals the ball at the last minute to flop over the line. Typical scrum-half behaviour.

Mo’unga adds the extras to stretch the All Blacks’ lead.

08:17 PM BST

16 min NZL 7 ITA 3

Nicotera is penalised for slowing the ball down.

It looked more like he was struggling to get up after suffering a head knock and had no idea how he ended up in Aaron Smith’s way. The TMO may want to look at that.

08:16 PM BST

14 min NZL 7 ITA 3

Slight indecision over whether to run it or kick it back from Italy leads to a player getting isolated.

Jordie Barrett latches onto the ball and forces a penalty.

New Zealand play off the top of the lineout and play under advantage inside the Italy 22.

08:14 PM BST

13 min NZL 7 ITA 3

The All Blacks clear well, but again Italy look to play. With the likes of Capuozzo and Ioane in the backfield, if they can find the space, they will try to exploit it.

This time Italy look to cross-field kick but the ball just goes out.

New Zealand clear up-field off the lineout and kick-tennis ensues.

08:13 PM BST

12 min NZL 7 ITA 3

Stephen Varney puts a brilliant kick in down-field, rolling the ball deep into the New Zealand 22.

It’s not a 50-22 because the ball was brought back in, but this field position will put big pressure on the throw of Codie Taylor.

08:11 PM BST

9 min NZL 7 ITA 3

Italy strike back more or less immediately though.

New Zealand captain Ardie Savea is penalised at the breakdown, and fly-half Tomasso Allan makes no mistake, bisecting the posts with the penalty.

With that, he mantains his perfect 15 from 15 record off the tee for the tournament so far.

08:09 PM BST


Genius from the All Blacks.

Jordie Barrett spots Jordan in space on the right flank and puts a nonchalant boot to ball, landing it perfectly in the bread basket of the oncoming Jordan.

The winger still has a lot of work to do though and puts in a spectacular leaping dive, keeping the ball in his outside arm and lifting his legs to avoid landing in touch.

Richie Mo’unga slots the conversion from out wide, and New Zealand take an early lead.

Will Jordan, right, puts in a spectacular dive to open up the scoring
Will Jordan, right, puts in a spectacular dive to open up the scoring - AFP/Francis Bompard

08:06 PM BST

5 min NZL 0 ITA 0

New Zealand go right and play a clever wrap move, but the ball goes to ground. It looks like the there may have been an Italy hand involved.

The All Blacks maintain  possession though and move it across field to the left, playing under advantage.

08:05 PM BST

3 min NZL 0 ITA 0

The ball is slightly overthrown, forcing Dino Lamb to paddle it back.

The second row does well, but Italy then throw it forwards. New Zealand have a midfield scrum inside the opposition 22.

This is a great platform from which to launch an early assault on the opposition line.

08:03 PM BST

3 min NZL 0 ITA 0

It’s a breathless passage of play to get us under way - nearly two and a half minutes with the ball in play.

Eventually Aaron smith rolls a box kick to touch just inside the Italian 22.

08:02 PM BST

2 min NZL 0 ITA 0

Italy look to play early and put the ball through the hands on half-way.

They get around the edge and make some headway up the right flank.

An encouraging start for the Azzurri, but the All Blacks make a turnover and carry themselves up to their own 10.

08:01 PM BST

1 min NZL 0 ITA 0

English referee Matthew Carley blows his whistle, and we’re off!

Italy kick deep left and Mark Telea fields and runs it back.

New Zealand then clear through the boot of Barrett.

07:59 PM BST

Kick off next

The teams are lined up, and kick off is just moments away here!

07:59 PM BST

Time for the Haka

The anthem may have been slightly subdued. This part certainly is not.

Aaron Smith raises a spear aloft and Ardie Savea draws his thumb across his throat to round off Ka Mate.

The All Blacks mean business.

07:57 PM BST

Time for the Italian anthem

Then it’s time for Italy, dressed in their white away jerseys, to belt out their anthem.

As one might expect for a game of this significance, it’s a passionate performance. Captain Lamaro looked as if he might rip his shirt off as he clutched his chest and shouted the final words.

07:55 PM BST

The teams are out

Both teams are out on the pitch on a warm night in Lyon at OL Stadium.

First up to sing their anthem, it’s New Zealand dressed in their black home jerseys.

07:52 PM BST

The All Blacks’ set-piece challenges

The All Blacks pack was bullied by the Springboks in their final warm-up for the World Cup and in their first ever pool phase loss in the tournament opener against the hosts.

Scrum coach Greg Feek said progress had been made during training on their bye week in the southwest France following the 71-3 victory over Namibia in their second match.

“The best way to judge that for us is within our own camp,” said the former prop, who was in the All Blacks side that beat Italy 101–3 at the 1999 World Cup.

“When you see boys get up from set piece, their eyes nearly popping out their heads and really looking at each other and thinking, ‘that’s what we need’. That’s one part of it. But tomorrow’s the true test of where we are at.”

07:51 PM BST

Have your say

07:50 PM BST

Brodie Retalllick on Sam Whitelock’s chance to make history

Sam Whitelock will win his 149th cap if he comes off the bench tonight, surpassing the great Richie McCaw as the most-capped All Black.

Asked what influence his long-standing partner in the All Blacks engine-room has had on his own career, Brodie Retallick said he has always tried to match Whitelock’s fierce drive to be the very best.

“He was the number one lock and had been established in the All Blacks before I was,” Retallick told reporters.

“It was the competition to keep getting better and reach his level. He has done that for so long, which is also a massive achievement.

“Even this week, even though he was named on the bench, he was still pushing everyone around the field and trying to out-do everyone.

“Playing a lot of test matches with him has been special but the competitiveness he has throughout the training week, week-in week-out, has been the biggest benefit.”

Retallick, who made his return from a serious knee injury against France, said the All Blacks would be focusing on their own game rather than worrying too much about what the improving Italians would bring to the contest.

“You can’t be distracted by what the Italians may or may not bring. We’ve obviously previewed them and understand a bit of their structure and how they want to play the game,” he said. “But from our point of view it’s mainly the moment, from the get-go. The start is going to be massively important. We can only do our job the best we can and then trust the team mate left or right of you to do that.”

Sam Whitelock starts on the bench on the occasion of his 149th cap
Sam Whitelock starts on the bench on the occasion of his 149th cap - Getty Images/Hannah Peters

07:49 PM BST

Capuozzo the magician

Rugby is traditionally thought of as a game designed for big men to take lumps out of one another.

Sure, that may be part of the fun - just ask the likes of Dan Cole or David Flatman. But there is another, perhaps more refined, art to the game that is best personified by the lightning feet and floppy curtains of Ange Capuozzo.

The Italian full-back reminds us that rugby union can still be a sport where waifish athletes thrive among giants by living on their wits, reports Charlie Morgan.

Go here for Charlie’s full story on the  diminutive Italian magician.

Ange Capuozzo of Italy during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Italy and Uruguay
Ange Capuozzo of Italy during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Italy and Uruguay - Getty Images/Michael Steele

07:46 PM BST

And for Italy

Italy team guide
Italy team guide

07:35 PM BST

Our experts' view on New Zealand's record and prospects

New Zealand team guide
New Zealand team guide

07:34 PM BST

Other nations have 'caught up' with All Blacks, says Azzurri boss Kieran Crowley

Italy head coach Kieran Crowley has moved Niccolo Cannone to the bench, bringing in Dino Lamb, Stephen Varney and Luca Morisi, while Alessandro Garbisi and Lorenzo Pani drop out of the squad.

Tommaso Allan returns to full-back, while Paolo Garbisi moves from inside centre back to his favoured fly-half position.

Despite history skewing strongly in New Zealand’s favour, Italian head coach Kieran Crowley made clear he believes his side has the quality to cause an upset.

“A few years ago the All Blacks were pretty dominant. They were probably a little bit ahead of other countries in the way they approached the game, but now you see everyone has caught up.”

Crowley added that the Azzurri are ready to take the fight to the All Blacks. “We are under no illusions as to what is coming. They are going to come at us, and they are going to be aggressive and they are going to try to intimidate us. They’ll try to bully us. We have to embrace that challenge,” he said.

“You look at France or South Africa, they are such big men, they are massive; the way they play doesn’t quite suit us,” Crowely said. “But we are not going to be stupid about how we play. We’ve looked at the way we think we can put pressure on New Zealand and we will attempt to do that in different places.”

07:27 PM BST

Having a punt?

First take a look at these Rugby World Cup free bets and betting offers.

07:25 PM BST

New Zealand selection: no time for sentiment

Head coach Ian Foster has made nine changes in his starting XV from their 71-3 victory against Namibia. Only Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Nepo Laulala, Brodie Retallick, Dalton Papali’i, Ardie Savea, and Beauden Barrett retain their places.

If Sam Whitelock comes off the bench he will overtake Richie McCaw as the most-capped All Black in Test history, moving to 149 caps. It would also see him equal the World Cup appearances record, joining McCaw and England’s Jason Leonard on 22.

Foster’s decision to restrict Whitelock to the bench to start with sends a clear message to his players: today’s clash is no time for sentiment.

07:13 PM BST

The teams

New Zealand

Starting XV: 15-Beauden Barrett, 14-Will Jordan, 13-Rieko Ioane, 12-Jordie Barrett, 11-Mark Telea, 10-Richie Mo’unga, 9-Aaron Smith, 1-Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Brodie Retallick, 5-Scott Barrett, 6-Shannon Frizell, 7-Dalton Papali’i, 8-Ardie Savea

Replacements: 16-Dane Coles, 17-Tamaiti Williams, 18-Tyrel Lomax, 19-Sam Whitelock, 20-Sam Cane, 21-Cam Roigard, 22-Damian McKenzie, 23-Anton Lienert-Brown


Starting XV:15-Tommaso Allan, 14-Ange Capuozzo, 13-Juan Ignacio Brex, 12-Luca Morisi, 11-Monty Ioane, 10-Paolo Garbisi, 9-Stephen Varney, 1-Danilo Fischetti, 2-Giacomo Nicotera, 3-Marco Riccioni, 4-Dino Lamb, 5-Federico Ruzza, 6-Sebastian Negri, 7-Michele Lamaro, 8-Lorenzo Cannone

Replacements: 16-Hame Faiva, 17-Ivan Nemer, 18-Simone Ferrari, 19-Niccolo Cannone, 20-Manuel Zuliani, 21-Toa Halafihi, 22-Martin Page-Relo, 23-Paolo Odogwu Referee: Matthew Carley

07:02 PM BST

Judgement day for New Zealand

Hello and welcome to Telegraph’s Sport’s coverage of tonight’s clash between New Zealand and Italy as the All Blacks fight to keep their World Cup dreams alive.

New Zealand come into this match third in Pool A, five points adrift of opponents Italy - with a game in hand - and a further three behind leaders France after losing 27-13 to the hosts on the opening night. An unthinkable defeat here would leave them facing a pool stage exit for the first time.

The All Blacks bounced back the following week to produce a slick 91-3 routine victory against Namibia, blemished only by a red card to Ethan de Groot which has left the loosehead prop out of action for his side’s remaining pool games. The three-time world champions will be hoping for another strong performance tonight.

They are up against an Italy side with a gleam in their eye at the moment, having taken maximum points from their opening two matches with a 52-8 win against Namibia and a 38-17 victory over Uruguay. They are also on a four-game winning streak - their longest in 29 years. Another win either today or next week against France could potentially send them through to their first ever World Cup quarter-final.

Italy have never beaten New Zealand and last scored a try against them in 2016, but with a former All Black among their ranks in head coach Kieran Crowley, tonight is the perfect opportunity for the Azzurri to make history.

“We are not going out there to try to keep the score down. We are going out there to try to win the game,” Crowley, who won the 1987 World Cup with New Zealand, said on Wednesday. “We’ve got to show some courage, we’ve got to play.”

All to wary of the threat Italy pose, and of the repercussions back home should New Zealand not progress, All Blacks head coach Ian Foster cautioned against banking on his side’s record. “History is yesterday’s newspaper, not tomorrow’s,” he said.