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Page last updated at 18:29 GMT, Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Italy's Andrea Masi voted Player of the Six Nations

Andrea Masi
Masi is the first Italian to win the award

Italy full-back Andrea Masi has been voted RBS Player of the Championship for this year's Six Nations, becoming the first Italian to win the award.

Masi secured more than 30% of the 17,000 votes cast by rugby supporters.

He edged out his compatriot, scrum-half Fabio Semenzato, with Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien third ahead of England duo Toby Flood and Chris Ashton.

Masi scored a try in the Azzurri's historic 22-21 win against France, when he also won the man-of-the-match award.

He also scored in their 21-8 defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield, having moved to full-back for Italy's last two matches after starting their first three on the wing.


"To to be named the player of the Championship is a fantastic way to end what has been one of the most competitive championships I can remember. Italian rugby continues to strengthen and we are very happy with our progress as a team," Masi said.

His achievement is all the more impressive given that Italy finished bottom of the Six Nations table for the ninth time in 12 years.

"It has been a championship of highs and lows for the Italian team," Masi added. "Our win against France will go down in rugby history but to finish sixth frustrated us all."

As well as the epic win against France, the Italians lost narrowly at home to Ireland and Wales but were well beaten at Twickenham and Murrayfield.

Masi follows last year's winner Tommy Bowe, whose Ireland team-mate Brian O'Driscoll won the award in three of the previous four years, with Wales wing Shane Williams claiming it in 2008.

Meanwhile Italy centre Gonzalo Canale has been suspended for two weeks for a dangerous tackle on Simon Danielli in Saturday's 21-8 Six Nations defeat by Scotland.

The Clermont Auvergne back is able to resume playing on 4 April and has the right of appeal.

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see also
Italy's Canale given two-week ban
23 Mar 11 |  Scottish
Mallett proud of 'huge' Italy win
12 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Italy 22-21 France
12 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union

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