Italian captain Sergio Parisse is not a happy guy at the moment after World Rugby and World Cup Organisers have decided to cancel the match between New Zealand and Italy which was scheduled for Saturday.
Once the news broke the Italians started to realise what is actually happening.
Playing in a World Cup is not just a month work going into it. For some teams there are qualifying that they have to go through and preparations for a World Cup starts long before the tournament actually kicks off.
For the likes of Sergio Parisse, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Alessandro Zanni, this weekend match against the All Blacks would have been their last test match in their careers.
All three of them have played in over 100 times for their country and their was no better way to end their careers than playing the best team on the planet in a World Cup do-or-die match.
We do forget the sacrifice these players make not just in their rugby career’s but also for a tournament like the World Cup.
We can then understand why Parisse are not sad but angry. He snapped at a reporter who asked him about his cap haul.
“I don’t care about records,” he said
‘We know there are typhoons in this part of the world so where is the plan B?
‘I don’t understand the decision. It’s really wrong. It’s not like it’s 15 days of typhoons. It’s one day. Why couldn’t we play on Friday? Or Sunday? Or move?’
‘They think this game has no big influence,’ added Parisse. ‘Of course safety is the priority, but maybe they say: ‘New Zealand versus Italy — eight million times New Zealand are gonna win’.
Maybe one time in eight million that will be different but we don’t have an opportunity to try. This is why we play.
‘Some people are saying Italy should be happy to get a draw. That’s bull.
If England must win against France to qualify, would they say “draw” and send England back home? I don’t think so. Ireland? No. New Zealand? No. I promise you that.
When you realise it’s maybe your last ever game or think how much effort you’ve made to be here, it’s tough.’
The head coach Conor O’Shea paid a heartfelt tribute.
‘What a way to finish,’ said an impassioned O’Shea, his voice tremoring at times. ‘We’ve been preparing for this since June 2. Sacrificing family life for four months. For it to end like this — it’s hard. It’s difficult to speak about.
‘One hundred per cent, these are the guys that kept Italian rugby alive. They went through all the pain and kept on coming back for more. They’re unbelievable men and I find it really hard for them. I hope the young guys see their legacy and want to be like them, as people as much as players. If young guys like Jake Polledri become half the player Sergio is, Italy will be fine.’
‘I don’t want to finish like this,’ said Parisse, 36, who will be remembered as one of the great rugby players. ‘I don’t want to finish because some guys in a room make a decision. I don’t want to say I finished my career because of a typhoon.
Parisse admitted that he does not have the same verve anymore and new blood is needed
‘I’m honest, I’ve given everything I can give to the Italian jersey over 17 years. Physically and mentally. I don’t have the same physical energy as when I was 25 years old. When you see the young guys in this team, they deserve to play and take my place. I don’t have any more progress.
‘Now it’s important that I take a step away and leave these guys to play. That’s what’s best for the team. I would like to play one last game at home in Italy. The Six Nations is the next competition so I will go home, rest and talk about that with the Federation.
‘There was a big chance this would be my last game if it went ahead. I wanted to play with Leo and Ale. We grew up playing together. We came in as youngsters. Just walking on the moon.
‘We played great rugby, average rugby and not-so-great rugby but we’re all really proud. This was like the final for us. The last one.’
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