Italy have struggled to replace the void left by Diego Dominguez since his retirement in 2003.
Mirco Bergamasco took over kicking duties but they have never had a solid option at fly half, and many people believe this is the reason that The Azzurri have struggled to develop and progress as a team. However, although some might say it is too early to call, the number ten jersey may, at last have a worthy successor.
Tommaso Allan (formerly Tommy Allan) hails from Vicenza in Italy. Both his parents played rugby in Italy and his uncle earned nine caps for Scotland and thirteen for South Africa.
He was part of the Wasps academy (captaining RGS High Wycombe School side) but his first big success came when he was part of the under 19 Stormers side that won the Provincial championship in South Africa. It was during his time with the Stormers that Allan received his first international recognition – earning 16 caps for the Scotland Under 20s – scoring 89 points. However he never made an appearance for the Scottish senior team.
In 2013 he moved to French side Perpignan. After the club suffered relegation to the Pro D2, he stayed with them as they battled for promotion. It was in his 2013 season that he was named in the 35 man Italy squad for the end of year tests. The interest from Italy prompted the Scottish Rugby Union to seek clarification over Allen’s allegiance. Despite appearing for the Under 17, 18 and 20 age groups, he was selected in Jacques Brunel’s final squad. He made his test debut when he came off the bench to score against Australia. He also made appearances against Fiji and Argentina.
He went on to become a regular for Italy throughout the 2014 Six Nations until Kelly Haimona took over the starting role. He again played a secondary role throughout the 2015 tournament, and was not selected for the 2016 tournament with Haimona, Carlo Canna and Edoardo Padovani all playing at fly half during this period.
He went on to make 43 appearances and scoring 150 points for Perpignan before he left for Benetton in 2016. In his first season, Benetton finished above fellow Italians Zebre and Welsh strugglers Newport Gwent Dragons. Internationally, Allen was still regarded behind Zebre’s Carlos Canna, starting only one game of the 2017 six nations. To date he has made 27 appearances for Benetton scoring over 100 points.
By the time of the 2018 Six Nations, Allan was the in form Fly half for Italy, starting the defeat to England. He scored his first try of the tournament against Ireland in the second round. He started again against France, but could not prevent a third defeat for The Azzurri. The loss against Wales was their fourth of the tournament but Italy had saved their best performance for last. Allen scored 22 of Italy’s 27 points and was subsequently named man of the match as they came within two points of defeating Scotland.
If Allan can maintain his superb form, Italy look to be in a good place for the rest of the season, and with Benetton currently in 5th in their Pro 14 conference, his form is rewarding both at club and international level.