The Italy national rugby team that will go into the 2009 Six Nations Championship on 7 February is a very different beast from the one that entered the tournament last year. Twelve months ago there was an air of confidence about the team. Sure, it had failed to progress beyond the group stages of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, but earlier that year it had won two Six Nations matches for the first time ever, including a historic maiden away victory against Scotland. Furthermore, an increasing number of Italian players were establishing themselves with Europe