Italy head coach Conor O’Shea has called for “consistency” from World Rugby after Scotland have called for assurances that their crunch Pool A tie with Japan will go ahead.
Speaking in an interview with The Telegraph, O’Shea said any decision to accommodate the Scots would further anger the Italian camp.
“Sport is sport for a reason. It is unpredictable. We didn’t get the opportunity to take on the All Blacks, the Brazil of rugby, for a chance to go through ourselves. If there should be games cancelled on Sunday and re-arranged, that’s not right. We must have consistency in that regard.
“We all knew the risk was there. People will say, ‘Oh it’s all about the integrity of the tournament that Japan against Scotland has to be played’. Well, what about our game? We were still in there with a sporting chance. That cannot be denied. England, France, New Zealand, it’s okay for them to be considered as certain to go through. Why is it okay for them and not us?
“That’s where the anger comes from. That’s why Sergio [Parisse] spoke out. It’s dismissive. Even leading up to the match people were considering permutations going forward and our role in all that was never considered.”
O’Shea’s interview comes hot on the heels of Mark Dodson, the CEO of the Scottish Rugby Union, telling BBC Radio 4 that he will not allow Scotland to be “collateral damage” in the World Cup.
Addressing the rumours that Italy were prepared to have the game rescheduled only for New Zealand to insist on sticking to the tournament rules, O’Shea said “We just went on what World Rugby told us and did not get involved.
“I would be angry, though, if there were any changes now. That anger wouldn’t be directed at Scotland if there were any legal challenge to get it played but against the principle of it all.
“We would be fired up ourselves. You simply cannot argue that Japan against Scotland has to go ahead come what may because it means something and not apply that same logic to our game against the All Blacks.”
Italy retained a slim chance of progressing to the quarter-finals, with O’Shea arguing that however unlikely, the principle remains the same.
“Just hold on a second. What about our chances? That is why Sergio is right to be aggrieved. Our game is absolutely no different to Japan or Scotland. It is a winner-takes-all game. Forget the odds on it happening. The odds are irrelevant. In sport, weird things happen. It is about the rules and regulations and fairness and a level playing field. Italy matter.
“It has been an unbelievably anti-climactic way for us to finish. Even though we understand the reasons it doesn’t take away the downbeat feeling. We’re empty. It’s hard to take. Emotions are running high as you saw with Sergio. If it were to finish for him, on a training pitch, in Toyota; well, it’s not what dreams are made of.”
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