Italian boss 'destroyed' after 17th straight loss
SIX NATIONS REACTION: Italy coach Conor O'Shea conceded he was "destroyed" as Scotland snatched a last-gasp 29-27 win to break Italian hearts in a thrilling Six Nations finale at the Stadio Olympico in Rome on Saturday.
Italy had dominated, leading 17-12 at half-time but suffered their 17th straight defeat after a 79th-minute penalty by Greig Laidlaw handed Scotland third place.
"I'm destroyed for the lads and the fans but we've seen our future, the style and the game that we want, the quality of our young players," said Italy coach Conor O'Shea.
"There are so many positives. I'm really, really proud of our players they put in a great performance and played some amazing rugby,"
The Irishman has achieved just four wins since he took over in March 2016 and apart from a historic upset of South Africa in 2016, two of those were against tier-two nations.
With Georgia sitting two places above the Azzurri in the world rankings, there has been a growing sentiment that the eastern European country deserves a shot in the Six Nations.
"We've earned the right to be here," insists O'Shea.
"I've played in Irish teams that have been beaten by Italy. We've beaten all the tier-one nations in the Six Nations Championship bar England.
"In the history of the Six Nations you've seen some great days for Italy."
Italy finish bottom of the table for the third straight year with five defeats in five games, with captain Sergio Parisse suffering his 100th Test defeat.
"I don't understand how we managed to lose it," said a tearful Parisse.
"I'm disappointed but today we showed we're a great team. I saw determination and courage, despite the criticism," said Parisse, who earned his 65th cap in the Six Nations, to equal the championship record of Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll.
Commenting on the Parisse's retirement, O'Shea said: "I've never in my life come across a more special not just rugby player but a person, he's an amazing person.
"I'm very privileged to be involved at the tail end of his career. But he's a competitive, competitive man so we won't talk about the end until it is over.
"We're going to try and spend 18 months trying to do something special up until the World Cup and then we can talk differently about it."
Meanwhile, Italy's Tommaso Allan, who played for Scotland at Under-20 level, gave an inspirational performance winning the man of the match award as he accounted for 22 of Italy's points.
"It hurts to lose like that but today we know that we can compete with the biggest," said Allan.
The Italians losing streak in the Six Nations stretches back to 2015 against Scotland in Murrayfield.
Next up for the bruised Azzurri are two games in Japan in June and against Georgia at home in November.