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'It's ridiculous that there was no Plan B' - Italy's Parisse slams World Rugby

The Italians’ World Cup clash with the All Blacks has been cancelled.

ITALY CAPTAIN SERGIO Parisse has slammed World Rugby after the governing body cancelled his side’s final World Cup Pool B fixture against New Zealand on Saturday in Toyota City.

With Super Typhoon Hagibis set to hit Japan on Saturday, World Rugby called off both Italy’s game and the Pool C clash between England and France in Yokohama, while Sunday’s Pool A fixture between Japan and Scotland remains shrouded in doubt.

While Italy were complete outsiders against the All Blacks, they did still have a mathematical chance of qualifying for the World Cup quarter-finals if they could cause a major shock.

sergio-parisse-dejected-after-the-game 36-year-old Sergio Parisse is deeply frustrated. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Compounding the frustration is the fact that several veteran players, including Parisse, were set for their final World Cup appearances and perhaps even their very final games for Italy.

36-year-old Parisse was strongly critical of World Rugby for not having a back-up plan in place to allow the game to go ahead at a different venue or on a different date.

Indeed, Parisse suggested that had the All Blacks needed more from this game than the 0-0 draw it is now recorded as, World Rugby would have found a way to have it played.

“It’s difficult to know that we won’t have the chance to play a match against one of the great teams,” said Parisse. “If New Zealand needed four or five points against us, it would not have been cancelled.

“We had the chance to play in a big stadium against a great team. It’s ridiculous that a decision of this nature has been made because it isn’t like the fans arrived yesterday.

“It’s ridiculous that there was no Plan B because it isn’t news that typhoons hit Japan. The alternative is Plan B; when you organise a World Cup you should have one in place.

“Sure, everyone might think that Italy v New Zealand being cancelled counts for nothing because we’d have lost anyway, but we deserved to be respected as a team.

“If Italy and New Zealand decide they don’t want to play, then that’s fine. But, as I said, if New Zealand needed the points, it wouldn’t have been cancelled.”

conor-oshea-dejected-after-the-game O'Shea is deeply disappointed for some of his veteran players. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Italy boss Conor O’Shea echoed Parisse’s sentiments without being directly critical of World Rugby.

The Irishman said he had real sympathy for Leonardo Ghiraldini – who spent months rehabbing to play for Italy for the last time – Parisse, and Alessandro Zanni, in particular, as their Test careers look like coming to a close. 

“Everyone is down because we wanted to have the chance to play against New Zealand,” said O’Shea. “For us, it was our next challenge and perhaps for the last time for Sergio, Ale [Zanni], and Leo to play and the chance to give young players a chance.

“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 didn’t know until this morning. I’m finding it really difficult and 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.

“I feel bad for Sergio and the whole squad not to have the possibility to finish their World Cup in front of the fans, and then together in the changing room. To have to accept it won’t be the case is really, really hard to take.

“You never know what can happen on the pitch. We had a long time preparing for this, there was good energy and good spirit in the squad.

“We had the chance to qualify. I’m not saying we would have beaten them, but you want to finish on the pitch.

steve-hansen Hansen said World Rugby's decision was a 'no-brainer.' Source: Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

“Anything can happen and 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.”

Meanwhile, All Blacks boss Steve Hansen said World Rugby’s decision to cancel the game was the sensible thing to do, given the major threat to life that Super Typhoon Hagibis will pose as it passes through.

“Everyone knew this was a possibility and we knew what the process would be if it did occur,” said Hansen.

“But when you get a typhoon to the level we’re getting, safety’s the paramount thing.

“It’s a no-brainer.” 

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Murray Kinsella

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