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'I don't mean to be disrespectful... it's not acceptable to lose at home to Italy'

By Ian Cameron
Sam Warburton with new Wales coach Wayne Pivac. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

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Former captain Sam Warburton has said Wales have been ‘badly exposed’ after a misfiring Guinness Six Nations campaign and a humiliating defeat at home to Italy.

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Head coach Wayne Pivac and his coaching ticket have come under fire after the shock result which came in the context of a poor Six Nations showing in which Wales came 5th, a position some view as the defacto Wooden Spoon.

It was their first loss in Cardiff to the Azzurri, who had not won a Six Nations game in their previous 36 attempts across a demoralising seven-year period.

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“It is a backward step – there is no doubt about that, and there is no hiding from that,” Pivac said. “It is fine margins, but we have to stay strong and believe in what we are doing. This group does that, and we believe in the players that we have.”

Pundits and fans in Wales are starting to panic and there’s been no lack of hand wringing over the weekend in Welsh rugby circles.

Speaking on the BBC, Warburton suggested that the Italy loss may have been the result of some sort of complacency among the players.

“I don’t know whether there’s like a sense of complacency like a testimonial game but, and I don’t mean to be disrespectful to the Italians, it’s not acceptable to lose at home to Italy. You just can’t, can’t do it.

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“I do think that there’s going to have to be some serious conversations about the infrastructure in Wales because it’s just been badly exposed over this campaign.”

Crucially, Warburton thinks that Pivac will survive until the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

“I think last year [Six Nations title win] will take Wayne Pivac through to 2023. It would be easy to just look at the head coach and the players but I think Wales have been hiding behind much deeper issues.

“We have had a generally successful national team and poor regions, but now the national team is not doing so well.”

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“It’s 18 months away, like a lot happens in 18 months, the World Cup is a long way away it’s mad to be even thinking about it.

“I’ve never been in a campaign 18 months out from a World Cup and in the Six Nations said ‘right we’re building towards the World Cup. No, it’s win the Six Nations at all costs – that is the only primary goal.

“We need to move on. I think we need to start picking a team which is going to carry us for the next five to 10 years.

“The senior players have been amazing and they’re good friends of mine and I’ve shared some amazing moments with them in the dressing room.

“But I think we need to look beyond that now and start putting more faith in in younger players.”

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