Sergio Parisse slams decision to cancel Italy v New Zealand

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Italy captain Sergio Parisse has labelled the decision to cancel their final Rugby World Cup pool match ‘ridiculous’ and accused World Rugby of a lack of respect.

The final match in Pool B, due to take place in Toyota City, was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis, with England’s game against France also called off.

Italy were still in the hunt for a spot in the final eight and needed a bonus point victory over New Zealand to progress. However, they will now end their 2019 World Cup campaign in third place in Pool B, as the cancellation means the game is declared a draw, and each team are awarded two points.

The legendary number eight was likely to make his final appearance for Italy on Saturday in a remarkable international career that has seen him win 142 caps over 17 years of service in the blue jersey.

The 36-year-old was left bemused by World Rugby’s decision and said if the fortunes were switched and it was the All Blacks needing a win, the organisers would have found a way to ensure the game went ahead.

“It is difficult to know that we won’t have the chance to play a match against one of the great teams,” Parisse told Irish newspaper the Independent in Toyota City on Thursday.

If New Zealand needed four or five points against us it would have not been cancelled.

He added: “It is ridiculous that a decision of this nature has been made, because it isn’t like the fans arrived yesterday.

“It is ridiculous that there was no plan B, because it isn’t news that typhoons hit Japan.

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

Italy coach Conor O’Shea was left lamenting a ‘horrible’ end to the Azzuri’s World Cup campaign.

“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,” the former Harlequins boss told reporters at Italy’s team 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.”

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Italy were thrashed 3-49 by South Africa in the pool and few expected them to beat the All Blacks on Saturday, however, O’Shea was adamant that his side would have left everything on the pitch.

“You never know what can happen on that pitch,” he added.

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

“The match versus the All Blacks wasn’t the last match of our World Cup. It was the next challenge on our journey and that was our mentality.

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