O'Shea frustrated by relegation talk

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 23:49
Large conor o shea italy instructs 800

SIX NATIONS SPOTLIGHT: If Italy show anything like the same aggression on the field against England at Twickenham as coach Conor O'Shea has in championing their cause, the Six Nations holders could have a tough time on Sunday.

Italy were routed 10-63 last time out as Ireland ran riot in Rome, a result that once again re-opened the thorny debate about Six Nations promotion and relegation. The fact this is a debate that only gets much of an airing when Italy are struggling has not been lost on O'Shea.

But it has been given an extra dimension this season by the fact that fast-improving Georgia is now above Italy in the world rankings. Georgia, however, had the door slammed firmly in their face earlier this week when Six Nations chief executive John Feehan ruled out any hope of promotion and relegation for the foreseeable future.

But O'Shea cited Scotland's form this season, with Saturday's 29-13 win at home to Wales following an opening-day victory over Ireland, as proof of how teams could improve over time within the Six Nations.

"Italy has earned the right to be in the Six Nations because they've had some massive wins against top tier nations as well as bad days. Look at Scotland beating Wales.

"Would you have said five years ago they'd be in the position of beating Ireland and Wales? They've been through a real struggle but are now coming out of the other side.

"We need the game to grow and expand. If we don't expand the game, we'll kill it because there will only be three or four sides left. It's brilliant what Georgia are doing, but it baffles me when people want to contract the game.

"It's frustrating to hear people talk about relegation when our job should be to make Italian rugby strong. We need support at a difficult time," O'Shea said.

Italy has lost all 22 of their previous Tests against England and will face a home side on a run of 16 successive wins.

The fact England batsman Alastair Cook visited the reigning Grand Slam champions training base this week led to inevitable jokes about "winning by a cricket score" and O'Shea needs no reminding of the pressure Italy are facing.

"We know we're under the microscope. We're learning but we know there will be tough times. We're not as good as we think and not as bad as people think.

"I know some people will be going to Twickenham expecting England to score 60 or 70 and that might happen, but we want to give a performance that shows what we're about," he added.

Agence France-Presse

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 19h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 16 December 2017
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Bath v Toulon 17h30 Recreation Ground
Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
RESULT SCORE
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
Treviso v Leinster 10 | 36
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0
France 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0