Fury and tears af­ter Italy’s cam­paign is cut short

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Rugby World Cup -

There was anger and emo­tion in the Ital­ian camp fol­low­ing the can­cel­la­tion of their match against New Zealand.

While Ser­gio Parisse railed against what he saw as dou­ble stan­dards from World Rugby in pre­vent­ing them from try­ing to up­set the odds and reach the quar­ter-fi­nals, hooker Leonardo Ghi­ral­dini was left in tears by be­ing de­nied a cameo in what would have been his fi­nal match.

Ghi­ral­dini rup­tured his an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment at the end of March, putting his ap­pear­ance in a fourth World Cup in se­ri­ous jeop­ardy.

Re­mark­ably, the 34-year-old re­cov­ered to be named in the squad but has not played a minute in Japan, saved for the fi­nal match by head coach Conor O’shea, who planned to give him 20 min­utes and the chance to say good­bye in what would have been his 105th Test.

“You are very emo­tional, es­pe­cially for Leonardo Ghi­ral­dini, who missed his last chance to play in an Italy jer­sey,” said O’shea yes­ter­day. “To hear that your in­ter­na­tional ca­reer is fin­ished af­ter train­ing is tough to take.

“I’m find­ing it re­ally dif­fi­cult. 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.”

Parisse’s re­tire­ment from Test rugby is yet to be con­firmed but he has hinted as much this year and Italy’s back row has looked stronger with­out him. This is far from a fit­ting farewell for the 36-year-old No 8 play­ing in his fifth World Cup, just the third player to reach that mile­stone.

Italy could have reached the last eight with an im­prob­a­ble bonus-point win, but this has been an­other dis­ap­point­ing cam­paign, with spec­u­la­tion that O’shea could be re­placed.

“Clearly, ev­ery­one is down be­cause we wanted to have the chance to play against New Zealand. I’m dis­ap­pointed for the play­ers, the staff and the fans,” O’shea said.

“I’m sure it was a hard de­ci­sion for World Rugby. All the other teams whose matches have been can­celled are al­ready through and we were the only ones who had a chance to qual­ify.

“We wanted to show our best against New Zealand.

‘‘There are things on the field and off it for the coach­ing team and fed­er­a­tion to de­cide the di­rec­tion they take.”

De­nied: Leonardo Ghi­ral­dini misses win­ning a fi­nal cap in his 105th Test

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