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Dublin: 7°C Wednesday 28 October 2020

Conor O'Shea: South Africa win has changed people's belief and perceptions

The head coach hopes it will be the catalyst for further success.

The Italy players celebrate after the game.
The Italy players celebrate after the game.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

ITALY HEAD COACH Conor O’Shea admits his side’s famous victory over South Africa has helped lift some of the negativity surrounding Italian rugby.

O’Shea guided Italy to a historic first-ever win over a southern hemisphere nation on Saturday as the Azzurri held on to edge past South Africa 20-18 in Florence.

Speaking to Newstalk’s Off the Ball last night, the former Ireland international said that one landmark result has already changed people’s beliefs and perceptions towards rugby in the country.

“I was just delighted,” he said.

“We knew going into we had an opportunity if we could stay with them. I tried to explain to the players pre-match how the game would unfold if we could stay with them.

“Even the players said after the game that you could feel the tension just mounting on the South African side. They’re under so much pressure and so much scrutiny. It gave us that opportunity and our guys were incredible, the way they defended and tackled and stayed in the hunt. We took our opportunities, kicked our goals which always helps and found ourselves in a good position going down the stretch.

“There’s so much negativity about Italian rugby that this one result has changed a huge amount of people’s belief and perceptions. But there is a long, long way to go before we can be competitive on a really regular basis,.

“But that result will kick off a huge movement over here, there’s no doubt about that.”

You can listen to the full interview here.

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Ryan Bailey

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