Sergio Parisse's gliterring international career could end on the training pitch, not the field Photo: AFP
rugby world cup 2019

O'Shea rues 'horrible' end to Italy's World Cup campaign

By Anne-Christine POUJOULAT

Italy coach Conor O'Shea was left lamenting a "horrible" end to the Azzurri's World Cup campaign after their final pool match against New Zealand was called off because of Typhoon Hagibis.

Scrapping the game could spell the end for players like number eight Sergio Parisse and hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini and O'Shea said the decision was "really, really hard to take."

In an unprecedented move at a Rugby World Cup, organizers scrapped the matches between England and France and New Zealand and Italy -- with both fixtures in the path of the powerful typhoon.

While England and France both advance to the quarterfinals regardless, with two points each from a Pool C match now deemed a draw, Thursday's announcement ended Italy's slim hopes of reaching the last eight.

Admittedly, this would have at least required them to beat New Zealand for the first time -- and even that might not have been enough.

But O'Shea, who accepted officials had faced a "hard decision", voiced frustration that Italy would not at least get the chance in Toyota.

"I saw the players' reaction after training and it was horrible because these guys have given their lives to Italian rugby and their World Cup has ended on the training pitch, when it should be on the playing field," O'Shea told reporters at Italy's hotel.

"For the World Cup not to finish in front of the fans on the pitch, in front of the fans watching on TV in Italy, it is a hard day for all of us and difficult to put into words," he added.

O'Shea was particularly upset that Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini had now been denied an on-field farewell to a test career of over 100 caps before he retires.

"You're very emotional especially for Leonardo Ghiraldini, who missed his last chance to play in an Italy jersey and to hear that your international career is finished after training is tough to take," he said. "I feel bad for Sergio and the whole squad."

Italy were thrashed 49-3 by South Africa earlier in the pool and few expected them to beat New Zealand.

But O'Shea said: "You never know what can happen on the pitch.

"We had the chance to qualify. I'm not saying we would have beaten them (the All Blacks), but you want to finish on the pitch.

"The match versus New Zealand wasn't the last match of our World Cup. It was the next challenge on our journey and that was our mentality."

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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It's an utter disaster. If NZ needed they points they would have found a way to play the game. I'm certain of it. I feel so disappointed for the Italians.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Absolutely mind-boggling, these decisions. As some have said, several years in the making, and the organizers had no contingency plans? Don't tell me, they never knew typhoons could strike Japan?

What would have happened if these matches were in the knock-out stages? What if it were a NZ-Japan final (yes, far-fetched, I know, but just an example)? Would they cancel it, give both teams two points, and say they're both winners?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@Pukey2 - I've heard there are contingency plans for the knock out stages. So that begs the question, why can't there be the same plans for pool games that are also essentially knock out opportunities. Eg NZ v Italy - while unlikely that Italy would come close... mathematically there was still a chance to get through.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The most farcical thing is, the weather will just be like a windy day back in Ireland/Scotland/England.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Sergio Parisse was right when saying, if New Zealand needed points to qualify they would have made plans in a heartbeat. The contingency plan should be moving dates, locations or playing behind closed doors, not outright cancelling games. For clarity, no one is asking for the games to be played DURING the typhoon.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Ever since I am professionally involved in rugby I hear only talk about FairPlay and rugby family. Really?

In that case the solution is as simple as it gets. Australia and others refuse to play unless all group matches are played and rescheduled. No matter what punishment IRB or Loc2019 threatens with, they can never be enforced or the World Cup ends here and rugby is finished.

All the teams he teams need to do is stand firm and stand together.

As rugby claims to be different, now is the time to proof it.

Might also spare a thought for the real rugby family, the fans !

Logistically , including broadcast, it is a challenge but certainly very possible.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Mind you 0 - 100+ is also a horrible way to finish.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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