pani siuuu
Lorenzo Pani is still smiling, and who can blame him?

The Italy fullback ended the Guinness Men's Six Nations in fine form, with three more Test caps to his name, and a nomination for Try of the Championship.

Pani’s effort came early in the Azzurri’s final match of the Championship against Wales in Cardiff, and helped Gonzalo Quesada’s team to a 24-21 victory.

It was a slick move off first phase. After winning a lineout just inside their half, Italy worked the ball wide to the overlapping winger Monty Ioane. After he got in behind the Welsh defence, Ioane popped the ball to Pani, who raced away from Rio Dyer and Josh Adams, then held off Nick Tompkins to score his first Championship try.

As well as being a spectacular score, it was a vital one. It stretched Italy’s lead to over two converted tries and set the platform for Italy to control the second half.

“In the first half we played well but didn’t score as many points as we should have. It was 11-0 at half-time,” Pani told us.

“To score a try off first-phase ball, five minutes into the second half, showed what we could do and flooded the team with confidence.

“To be honest, we didn’t attack as well from then on and controlled the match with tactical kicking, but that try meant we were able to start to pull away from Wales. When it was 11-0 the match was still in the balance and that try was another step towards winning.”


Pani is up against Scotland’s Duhan van der Merwe, Ireland’s Calvin Nash, and France’s Nolann Le Garrec for the Try of the Championship title.

As well as being a spectacular finish, Pani marked the score with a fulsome celebration.

The 21-year-old is a Juventus fan, and to celebrate he recreated Cristiano Ronaldo’s trademark 'Siuuu' celebration before being swamped by his teammates. The Portuguese superstar has happy memories of the Principality Stadium: he scored twice there for Real Madrid in their 2017 Champions League final victory over Juventus, a team he later joined.

“I am a huge fan of Ronaldo, and I’ve loved his mentality and the way he conducts himself on the field since I was young,” Pani said. “No matter all the trophies he’s won, he still has the hunger and that’s why I really like him.

“He’s my favourite athlete. He’s had such a long sporting life, it’s incredible. I wanted to perform his celebration because he used to do it at Juve and he was such a great player; strong, great skills, everything.”


Italian fullbacks have happy memories of matches at the Principality Stadium. Two years ago, Ange Capuozzo’s late mazy run set up a try for Edoardo Padovani that helped end Italy’s 35-match wait for a Six Nations victory.

Pani was a late call-up on the wing for Italy’s opener against England in Rome, after Capuozzo dropped out with gastroenteritis. The Toulouse flyer returned for Round 2 against Ireland, with Pani again starting on the wing.

Capuozzo began the next two fixtures, against France and Scotland, but had to pull out of the match in Cardiff with a finger injury which opened the door for Pani. It means Italy fans can now dream of two strike-running fullbacks pushing each other to new heights for years to come.

“Competition is always good and helps you improve,” Pani said. “We are two good players, and we could play together, one at fullback and one on the wing.

“I’m much happier at fullback. It’s where I play for Zebre, and I can use my boot more. But I make sure I have the right attitude and accept decisions I don’t like. I want to help this team improve and that is what drives me.”


Italy’s win over Wales ensured that they enjoyed their best Guinness Men's Six Nations, with the two victories and a draw an improvement on 2007 and 2013 when they won twice.

Key to the achievement was new coach Quesada, who picked the team up after they ended Rugby World Cup 2023 with 96-17 and 60-7 defeats to New Zealand and France respectively.

He only had three days' training with the entire squad before the tournament but had run a training camp with the Italy-based players, such as Zebre’s Pani, and those from Benetton.

The Florence-born Pani admits that it didn’t take long for confidence to spread through the squad once they’d met Quesada, and at the end that confidence was justified.

“We spoke before the tournament about having our best tournament of all time,” Pani said. “After we drew with France and beat Scotland we said, 'this is the most important week of our lives', and in camp there was a real desire to win again.

“[Quesada] developed our style after the World Cup and made it more balanced. We use kicks to attack with far more, especially from our half. We take less risks and use high kicks to pressure opponents.

“He built us up psychologically because we had a lot of meetings before [the Championship] and said that while words count, what really counts is what we do on the field.

“After the draw with France, he asked us to do it again because he’d seen in the past that when we had a big result we slipped back again in the next match. We played three massive matches in a row, which shows a big step forward. We know we can do that now and that gives us a great sense of contentment.”


Pani is now back home in Parma where he is aiming to secure his place in the Zebre starting team for their matches in the United Rugby Championship (URC), and the EPCR Challenge Cup.

He admits that it's hard to get his head around the idea of scoring for Italy in the Six Nations, something he could only dream about when he fell in love with rugby at his first training session with Sesto Rugby, aged seven.

Pani is also looking forward to meeting up with his Italy teammates again, with the summer tour to Tonga, Samoa, and Japan offering the chance to extend their unbeaten run.

“For now, I’m concentrating on playing well for Zebre,” Pani said. “Of course we talk about it in the national team. We had a great Six Nations, and we want to keep that going now. There are three matches and if I’m being honest, we should expect three victories.

“The squad has created a great atmosphere, with everyone pulling in the same direction. We all want to win. Even on the weeks I wasn’t playing, I wanted to give 100 percent. It is a good group of young players who are ambitious and ready to work to our all to help Italy develop.”