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Exiting Italy boss Kieran Crowley fires parting shots in final presser

By Ian Cameron
Kieran Crowley, Head Coach of Italy, speaks to the media in the post match press conference during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between France and Italy at Parc Olympique on October 06, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Michael Steele - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Italy head coach Kieran Crowley fired a parting shot at the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) in what was probably his final press conference as boss of the Azzurri.

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Italy went out on a relatively bum note after making a lot of progress under Crowley in this Rugby World Cup cycle, going down 70-7 to France in Lyon, a week after taking a pummeling from New Zealand.

Despite the progress under the New Zealander, the FIR announced that they would be parting ways with Crowley earlier this year, suggesting that all was not entirely well behind the scenes. It was a move that took many by surprise.

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Crowley fired a couple of cryptic parting shots at the FIR.

“I’ve said before I would like to take this team forward. I think the next World Cup is their cycle.

“What needs to happen, though, is these players need to start being treated with a bit of respect off the field.

“They need to get some of their stuff sorted. So, quite honestly I don’t know whether I’d want to be involved unless they get it sorted. I’d love to take these boys forward but I will be eating some sushi and watching from afar.

“It didn’t affect my performance, I don’t think, although it made for an interesting dynamic. But New Zealand have been in the same boat, haven’t they, and they’re going to the quarter-finals. Ian Foster is in the same boat. The decision was made and you’ve got to roll with it.”

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“Teams at the top of the international level play a power game. We are just lacking a bit of that. You’ve got to play to your strengths and we tried to play to our strengths but today we gave away too many (penalties), we gave away 17 penalties.

“The teams right at the top of the tree have a very power-based game. If you are going to be really successful you are going to have to have power.”

Crowley also addressed the issue of depth in Italian rugby with just two Italian URC franchises to choose from.

“You’ve got to have the depth too. A country like France, you’ve got the Top 14 so, you’ve just to (look at) hookers – yes, I know there’s a couple of foreign hookers but every team will have at least three and at least two of those will be French. Therefore you’ve got 28 hookers running around the Top 14 and of those probably 16 or 15 of them are pretty bloody good.

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“You know, we’ve got two franchises in Italy so you get two hookers, three, four (Italian) hookers. The depth is not there in that position as well.

“It’s a challenge going forward for Italy to get players game-time… because there’s only two franchises and they’re trying to win.

“Some of these boys will probably go back to the URC [United Rugby Championship] and probably not get as much rugby as they need before they come into the Six Nations, which is going to be a massive concern, particularly in the tight five.”

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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