Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Stadio Olimpico

Italy 27-29 Scotland

17th March 2019

I sometimes wonder if I am perhaps just a bit too soft to be a truly comitted supporter of any club/team/side.  For I often find myself unable to enjoy victories by “my” teams, as I find it too easy to empathise with the losing sides.

Excepting the 1970s when I was a Glasgow Celtic supporter, I have generally found myself following underdogs: Bathgate Thistle, Dunfermline Athletic, Fife Flyers plus both the Scottish National football and rugby sides.  None of which could ever be said to represent the pinnacle of their particular sports.  So the number of occasions where “my” teams go into encounters as favourites are few and far between.  Which occasionally leads to a bit of a conundrum for someone like myself, who invariably gravitates towards rooting for the underdog in most contests I witness.  Such it was this afternoon at the Stadio Olimpico.  

Now I would not go so far as to say I found myself (silently and inwardly) cheering on the Italians this afternoon, but had the arithmetic of the scoring somehow conjured up a draw, let’s just say I would not have been heartbroken.

For this Italian side, I felt, really deserved to come away from this encounter with rather more than a 17th successive Six Nations Tournament defeat.  The hosts had dominated the opening hour of the match; leading 17-5 at one point during the first half, and were deservedly ahead 24-12 with just 20 minutes remaining.

They really should have been able to see the game out, but, even to my untutored eyes, there looked to be an indefinable lack of self-belief about the Italian lads.  Even after the hosts had regained the lead at 27-26 with just three minutes remaining, I never really felt Scotland would lose the match.  And so it proved: Greg Laidlaw retaining his poise to put over a penalty in the dying seconds after Italy had collapsed a maul which, to be fair, had been heading for their try line at a fair lick.  

I really did sympathise with our hosts at time-up – particularly for their talented and likeable captain Sergio Parrisse for whom this latest reverse brought up his (unwelcome) 100th test loss. 

Not far from the Stadio Olimpico stands the 10,000 capacity Stadio de Tennis.

Former Scotland Under-20 cap Tomasso Allan prepares to put Italy 3-0 up...

...whilst here he is about to touch down for Italy's opening try on 14 minutes.

Scotland 17-5 down at this point...

...really needed Captain John Barclay's try.

Panorama of Stadio Olimpico, Rome.

Finn Russell gets the second half underway, with Scotland down 17-12

Sebastian Negri's touchdown is ruled out for an earlier knock-on.

The Scots were in a bit of trouble at 24-12 down, with over an hour gone...

...before Tartan Kiwi Sean Maitland went over. 

Bagpipes and earplugs sound a wise combination.

Stuart Hogg gets Scotland's fourth try, as the hosts wilt in the final ten minutes.

In the row in front of us had sat a lone Italian supporter, clearly deeply committed to his side's cause.  For he fretted, twitched and fidgeted throughout the game, tortured by nervous tension, and I wondered if he had done the same throughout each of Italy's recent run of Six Nations home defeats.

I felt for the poor lad and resolved win, lose or (unlikely) draw, I would shake his hand at time-up and offer my commiserations or congratulations, as appropriate, in some sort of show of kindred spirituality.

But at the final whistle, he angrily got to his feet, threw out his arms in a typical Latin show of exasperation and stormed out of the Stadio Olimpico without a backward glance.  His gesticulation  probably best translated into Scots as “Fuck the lot o' ye”.  

Whether his ire was aimed at his own side (who really should have been able to hold onto their slender lead for the final three minutes); at Scotland for larcenously nicking it at the the death; at Monsieur Gauzier the French referee for (perfectly correctly) awarding Scotland that late penalty, or even just at the planet in general, I cannot say.

My rugby obsessed neighbour.


Guglielmo Palazzani and matchwinner Greg Laidlaw

Italy Captain Sergio Parisse attempts to explain where it all went wrong...for the hundredth time.

Panorama of Stadio Olimpico, Rome


A few pics from our stay in Rome:

The view out of our hotel window.  Are there many better in the world?  

The Colosseum: the oldest stadium I have visited for this blog - first used around 80 AD.

Statues (and tourists) atop the Altare della Patria

I felt this pic perfectly captured the dichotomy of the Church of Rome -
Amid the obscene opulence of the Vatican, hundreds of faded and
rusty cheapo chairs set out for the bottoms of the faithful. 

I could almost have given this site a page of its own:
The Circus Maximus - site of chariot races up until 600 AD or so.

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