We look ahead to Sunday’s 2024 Guinness Men’s Six Nations match in Rome with our Italy vs Scotland prediction and preview.

Since Italy joined the Guinness Men’s Six Nations in 2000, 92% of the Wooden Spoons dished out have ended up in the hands of either the Azzurri (18) or Scotland (4). Subsequently, this fixture was often labelled the Wooden Spoon decider, but in recent seasons Scotland have pulled clear of that peril, leaving Italy languishing on their own.

This year, both sides head into the fixture unbeaten in their previous Six Nations match, the first time that has ever happened in the history of the clash. Wales are the ones to have slipped into the Wooden Spoon race this year and their final-round encounter against Italy is likely to decide who finishes bottom of the pile in 2024.

Part of Scotland’s resurgence has been their form away from Murrayfield. Gregor Townsend’s men have won seven of their last 10 games on the road in the Championship, as many as they’d won in all their previous 51 away games (D1, L43).

For Italy, this specific fixture has been their most profitable in terms of wins in their Six Nations history, with 38% of their total Championship victories coming at home to Scotland. You have to go back 12 years for the last such victory, though; the only survivor (a player in a 2024 Six Nations squad) from either side in that fixture in 2012 is the injured Richie Gray.


Although Scotland (7.0) and Italy (4.3) have averaged fewer attacking 22-metre entries per game than any other side in the 2024 Six Nations, only Ireland (3.4) have averaged more points scored per 22 entry than each of them (Scotland 2.9, Italy 2.6).

The clinical threat that both sides possess makes them a real menace to opposition defences. Six tries in this Championship have been classed as ‘counter attack’ tries, with Scotland and Italy accounting for two of those each (Wales and England, one each). Indeed, four of Scotland’s seven tries in this campaign have originated from turnovers; France (1) are the only other side who’ve scored any tries in this fashion.

Both of these teams have used the offload regularly in the 2024 Six Nations to unlock defences. They’ve attempted more offloads (Italy 35, Scotland 31) than anyone else and that also represents a higher proportion of their total passes (both 8%) than any other side.

Ireland and France (both 83%) have both been more accurate with their offloads than Italy (71%) and Scotland (77%), but that is not to say they haven’t had success with it. Italy have sparked three breaks directly from an offload, while the two sides are the only ones to have assisted multiple tries from offloads (Scotland 3, Italy 2).

Both teams appear willing to take risks in attack and will want to transition from defence to attack as quickly as possible, leading to the possibility of a high-scoring and open game in Rome.

Six Nations - offload outcomes 2024


Italy’s power in the carry has been an issue in this year’s Six Nations, ranking last for both dominant carry rate (16%) and percentage of carries committing 2+ tacklers (45%). Unsurprisingly, based on those rates, Italy have made the fewest post-contact metres (615) and the fewest in-contact metres (434) of any side, the latter arguably being the best gauge of a side’s strength in the contact area.

Not being able to commit defenders and get go-forward in attack will always limit a team’s capacity to create space and scoring opportunities. The Azzurri won’t find things any easier in that regard in this fixture as Scotland have made the most dominant tackles (44) and have the best dominant tackle rate (8%) of any side in the Championship this year.

Looking for real standout weaknesses in Scotland’s 2024 Six Nations side is tricky. On the whole, they rank average or above in almost all categories. The one area that is still cause for concern though is their drop-off in the final 20 minutes of games.

Across their first three matches, they’ve scored just three points in total in the last 20 minutes of games. Surprisingly, Italy actually have the second-best tally in this period, their haul of 17 points only bettered by Ireland (40).

In the first 60 minutes of Scotland’s matches, they’ve managed a gainline success rate of 50%, the third-best rate. In the closing 20 minutes this drops to 39%, the second-worst rate behind Wales (35%). Their tallies of two breaks and 12 defenders beaten in that final quarter are also the lowest of any sides in the tournament.

Generally, as the game gets into the latter stages, you’d expect space to open up, but it seems Scotland tighten up in attack. Game situation plays a part in this for sure, but with Italy’s strength at the death, Scotland will need to ensure they put in a full 80-minute performance to back up their Calcutta Cup win from Round 3.

Italy vs Scotland - Last 20 minute outcomes

Standout Players

Duhan van der Merwe was the hat-trick hero in Round 3, but it is Blair Kinghorn who is the expert at crossing the try line against Italy. The Toulouse full-back is one of just three players to have registered multiple hat-tricks in the Six Nations, alongside Brian O’Driscoll and Jonathan Joseph and the only one to manage it against the same side, with Kinghorn scoring three against the Azzurri in both 2019 and 2023. Something for fans to consider while planning their fantasy team ahead of the weekend, perhaps…

Louis Lynagh is set to make his debut for Italy this weekend, a player who will have been on England’s radar at various periods over the last few years but has opted to play for the country of his birth. He hasn’t quite hit the heights he reached during Quins’ remarkable Premiership-winning campaign when he scored three tries in two play-off matches as Harlequins secured the title. But if he can find that spark again, then Italy’s back three could cause the Scots plenty of headaches.

Ross Vintcent keeps his place in the Italian starting pack after a fine performance against France last time out. The Exeter man made 17 tackles against Les Bleus – only his skipper Michele Lamaro (18) made more during the match. He also gained 40 metres with ball in hand, the second most of any forward in Round 3, despite making just six carries. In comparison, Ben Earl, who topped the charts among all forwards last time out, took 16 carries to make his 47 metres.

Italy vs Scotland Prediction

The Opta supercomputer makes the Scottish huge favourites ahead of kick-off at the Stadio Olimpico, giving them an 80.5% chance of winning.

Italy vs Scotland prediction Opta

Italy vs Scotland Lineups

Italy: 15 Ange Capuozzo, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Martin Page-Relo, 8 Ross Vintcent, 7 Michele Lamaro, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti

Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Giosuè Zilocchi, 19 Andrea Zambonin, 20 Lorenzo Cannone, 21 Stephen Varney, 22 Leonardo Marin, 23 Federico Mori

Scotland: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell (co-captain), 9 George Horne; 1 Pierre Schoeman, 2 George Turner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 5 Scott Cummings, 6 Andy Christie, 7 Rory Darge (co-captain), 8 Jack Dempsey

Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Elliot Millar-Mills, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Jamie Ritchie, 21 Matt Fagerson, 22 Ali Price, 23 Kyle Rowe

Other Six Nations Round 4 Fixtures:

England vs Ireland – Twickenham Stadium, London – Saturday 9 March, 16:45 GMT

Wales vs France – Principality Stadium, Cardiff – Sunday 10 March, 15:00 GMT

Enjoy this? Subscribe to our mailing list to receive exclusive weekly content. And follow us on X too.