Nickname: The Azzuri (Blue)Captain: Sergio ParisseCoach: Nick MallettRWC Appearances: 6 (First in 1987)Best result: Two match wins in 2003 and 2007HistoryItaly have been playing Test rugby since 1929 - when the national team were defeated 9 - 0 by Spain in their first match - and are today considered to be in the top tier of European teams. Since that first defeat, the Azzuri have steadily improved and in 2000 they were deemed good enough to be added to Europe's premier international rugby tournament, the Six Nations.The Azzuri initially suffered some heavy defeats in the tournament, but grew in competitiveness and recorded a fourth place finish, ahead of Wales and Scotland, in 2007.Italy have taken part in all six World Cups and, although they have never progressed from the group stages of the competition, they have recorded a few respectable results.At the inaugural tournament in 1987, Italy suffered a heavy 70 - 6 defeat to tournament hosts and eventual champions New Zealand, lost 25-16 to Argentina and defeated Fiji 18-15 in their final game.The Azzuri put in a much improved performance at the next World Cup in 1991. Italy beat the USA 30-9 in their first game, lost 36-6 to England and then recorded a respectable 31-21 loss to New Zealand.The 1995 World Cup saw Italy record mixed results in their three group stage matches. A 42-18 defeat to Samoa was followed by a more respectable 20-27 loss to England and stunning 31-25 victory over Argentina.Italy failed to build on their win over Argentina at the next World Cup in 1999 and lost all three of their groups games. They conceded a total of 193 points in the group stage, 101 of which came in a loss to New Zealand.Four years later in 2003, Italy recovered some respect with a 36-12 victory over Tonga and a 19-14 win over Canada coming after a 70-7 loss to New Zealand and before a 27-15 loss to Wales.The 2007 World Cup was Italy's best tournament yet, and, aside from one heavy 76-14 loss to New Zealand in their first game, the team recorded good results in all of their group stage matches. Italy beat Romania 24-18 in their second game, won their third game against Portugal 31-5 and pushed Scotland all the way in a 18-16 loss. Italy's form has dipped since their fourth place finish in the Six Nations and courageous performance at the World Cup in 2007. The team has finished last in every Six Nations since then and have won only three games in the competition.SquadForwards: Martin Castrogiovanni, Lorenzo Cittadini, Andrea Lo Cicero, Salvatore Perugini, Tommaso D’Apice, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Fabio Ongaro, Marco Bortolami, Carlo Antonio del Fava, Quintin Geldenhuys, Cornelius van Zyl, Robert Barbieri, Mauro Bergamasco, Paul Derbyshire, Sergio Parisse (Captain), Alessandro Zanni.Backs: Pablo Canavosio, Edoardo Gori, Fabio Semenzato, Ricardo Bocchino, Luciano Orquera, Tommaso Benvenuti, Mirco Bergamasco, Gonzalo Canale, Gonzalo Garcia, Andrea Masi, Luke McLean, Matteo Pratichetti, Alberto Sgarbi, Giulio Toniolatti. Key PlayerMartin CastrogiovanniHeight: 1.88Weight: 119kgsIt's an odd claim to fame for a marauding prop forward, but “Castro” has an impressive try scoring record and was Italy's top try scorer during the 2008 Six Nations Championship. Castrogiovanni's power and technique make him one of the best scrummagers in the world.