O'Shea urges Italy to end Six Nations drop debate

Wed, 25 Jan 2017 21:32

REACTION: Italy coach Conor O'Shea has urged his side to end the debate over their Six Nations status during this season's tournament.

There were renewed calls for promotion and relegation in the Six Nations, which could assist the likes of Georgia and Romania, following Italy's poor showing last year.

Not only did Italy lose all five of their matches, they suffered several thrashings including a 67-14 hammering by Wales -- their Rome opponents in the first round of this season's edition on February 5.

But former Ireland fullback O'Shea, installed as Italy coach last year after he left English Premiership side Harlequins, has had an encouraging start to his time in charge of the Azzurri, overseeing their first-ever win over South Africa in November.

"Italy have earned their right to be in the Six Nations," said O'Shea at Wednesday's tournament launch in London.

"If ever promotion and relegation were the case, who knows who would be at the bottom by the time that comes?

"If we get our system right and look after ourselves then we don't have to have those conversations."

O'Shea added: "We just want to earn people's respect this year, and see where that takes us."

O'Shea said the Azzurri's 20-18 defeat of the Springboks would become as iconic moment for Italian rugby as Munster's celebrated win over the All Blacks in 1978 had been for the game in Ireland.

"To me that win, it's massive," said O'Shea of Italy's tense triumph over South Africa.

"I'm fortunate I'm working in a country steeped in tradition, but we're very aware of its future.

"With my Irish hat on of Munster beating the All Blacks in 1978 is something that's always spoken about.

"While we know how much we have to learn, we showed the potential the team has if we play with that intensity and passion.

"The win over South Africa could be like that Munster win for us, but only if we make that the case.

"You give people something to cling on to, you give them hope, a match they can look at and realise it's not mythical.

"But all we want to do now is prepare to try to beat Wales."

O'Shea said his long-term goal was to make Italy a side no opponent looked forward to playing.

"We want to get to the World Cup in 2019 and be in a pool where people say 'oh, I don't want to play Italy'.

"What I want from my players is just an unbelievable work ethic. You should never be afraid of that," who has retained Italy great Sergio Parisse as his captain.

"The great Italian football teams were based on incredible defence, but with magic on top. You get that balance. And we need to be unbelievably difficult to play against.

"But then you need the magic on top that people like Sergio Parisse always offer."

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 27 April 2018
Hurricanes v Sunwolves 07h35 Wellington
Stormers v Rebels 13h00 Newlands
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons 18h45 Welford Road
Sat, 28 April 2018
Reds v Lions 05h05 Suncorp Stadium
Blues v Jaguares 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Crusaders 09h45 Canberra
Kings v Cheetahs 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 14h00 Sandy Park
Worcester Warriors v Harlequins 14h00 Sixways
Gloucester v Bath 14h00 Kingsholm
Connacht v Leinster 14h05 Sportsground
Dragons v Scarlets 14h05 Rodney Parade
Bulls v Highlanders 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Treviso v Zebre 16h00 Stadio Monigo
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys 16h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Ulster 16h35 Thomond Park
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 Myreside
Sun, 29 April 2018
London Irish v Saracens 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Wasps v Northampton Saints 14h00 Ricoh Arena
Sun, 22 April 2018
Racing Metro v Munster 27 | 22
Brumbies v Jaguares 20 | 25
Sat, 21 April 2018
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 36 | 15
Zebre v Ospreys 37 | 14
Sharks v Stormers 24 | 17
Leinster v Scarlets 38 | 16
Bulls v Rebels 28 | 10
Reds v Chiefs 12 | 36
Crusaders v Sunwolves 33 | 11
Fri, 20 April 2018
Waratahs v Lions 0 | 29
Blues v Highlanders 16 | 34
Sun, 15 April 2018
Saracens v Bath 41 | 6
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs 5 | 45
Sat, 14 April 2018
Leinster v Treviso 15 | 17
Kings v Cardiff Blues 12 | 45
Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 5 5 0 0 26
Wales 5 3 0 2 15
Scotland 5 3 0 2 13
France 5 2 0 3 11
England 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 1