Conor O’Shea’s stint in charge of Italy has officially ended after Alfredo Gavazzi, president of the Italian Rugby Federation, informed Saturday’s federal council meeting in L’Aquila that he would be leaving with immediate effect.
The Irishman had hooked up with the Italians in May 2016 on a four-year deal taking him through to the end of May next year. However, he now bows out ahead of the 2020 Six Nations amid rumours that he has a new role lined up at the RFU back in London.
Gavazzi said: “We are saddened by Conor’s decision not to complete the journey as contractually intended. We thank him for the commitment and passion with which he has held his own role in these years and we wish him the best professional successes in the tasks that he will cover.”
The departing O’Shea, whose work was well respected on the ground despite guiding Italy to just nine wins in his 40 matches in charge, said: “I loved every minute I spent in Italy and I really believe in what we have done and how it can be achieved in the years to come.
“We have started a process and generated a new, well-founded hope, but I also believe that the end of the World Cup represents the best time for everyone to make changes ahead of the new cycle.
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“I have built friendships and made experiences I will never forget. The job of all of us is to leave the shirt in a better place than that in which we found it. I sincerely hope to have left the Italian rugby in a better position.
“The young people who are coming enter to become part of a system that, continuing with the right decisions, can only improve in the years to come.”
Former Italian stalwart Marco Bortolami, who now works as Benetton assistant, paid tribute earlier on Saturday to O’Shea’s work. “We have been very lucky to have had Conor in Italy for four years because we are part of the system, so we achieve a great season because also of his job and the job he was doing with the national players,” he told RugbyPass.
‘Most teams in Europe have fines if you arrive late, but we think making players understand that to be on time is a value is more important’
– @MarcoBortolami tells @heagneyl about the transformation at @BenettonRugby to get back into @ChampionsCup https://t.co/utb25EvECk
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 16, 2019
“He was at the club every week and we were discussing ideas and a new way of doing things. He was part of the system and we talk to him for the four years he spent in Italy and you can’t take away from him his contribution.
“On the other hand he has a new challenge in front of him and we wish him good luck and I am are we will build on his legacy in the next few years.”
WATCH: RugbyPass Rugby Explorer takes a trek through Italian rugby, stopping off at Benetton after visiting Rome
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