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'They just monstered us': Italy react to 'training run' defeat to All Blacks

By Ben Smith
Ange Capuozzo and Michele Lamaro of Italy react after the Haka during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between New Zealand and Italy at Parc Olympique on September 29, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images)

Italy head coach Kieran Crowley is hoping to ‘bin’ the 96-17 loss to the All Blacks as quickly as possible as they look to pick up the pieces before a do-or-die clash against France next week.


The Italians produced some early passages with promised some fight but quickly fell behind as an Aaron Smith hat-trick propelled the All Blacks to a 49-3 half-time lead.

Although they fought back early in the second half with a well worked try to Ange Capuozzo, the All Blacks added seven more tries in the second half which Crowley described as a ‘glorified training run’ for them.

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“They just monstered us. It was like a training run for them. I think we won 33 per cent in the scrum and 50 per cent in the lineout,” he said.

“They beat us up at the breakdown. What happened? We weren’t good enough, they were too good. I thought they were pretty outstanding tonight in their carrying and their cleanout work.

“We gave up those three tries in five minutes that really put us on the back foot and it was all gone from there. We’ve got to pick up the pieces, which we will. It was just not a very good day at the office.”

“We’ve still got to go through the processes of recovery. By tomorrow night or Monday morning this one has got to be chucked in the rubbish bin.”


The set-piece for Italy fell apart as the All Blacks pinched five lineouts and starting winning scrums against the feed with a dominant pack in the second half.

It is a must-fix area for the Italians as the French are as strong, if not stronger, at scrum time.

“We have got to get our set-plays right, our lineouts right. As soon as we got the ball we either gave it away or gave a penalty away,” he said.

“But that was the pressure they were putting on us. We might not even review it, we might just chuck it in the bin, we will see.”


The Kiwi coach hinted that the coaching staff would process the loss ‘locked in a room with beers’ to move on quickly, but wasn’t yet ruling out hope.

He believed Italy is fortunate to still be in the tournament with many other teams have their fate sealed.

France could potentially be knocked out of the tournament should they lose to Italy without securing a losing bonus point, with the rampant All Blacks likely to pick up a full five points against Uruguay.

“Yes it was a really bad game for us today but one bad game doesn’t make a bad team,” he said.

“We have to improve. As far as the coaches go we will probably lock ourselves in a room and have a few beers, I suppose. That might be the best way to get rid of it.”

Italy came within a whisker of beating France in Rome earlier in the year with a 29-24 loss where their big guns played.

France will still be without Antoine Dupont for the crunch game who is expected to aim for a quarter-final return.

Star wing Capuozzo was reluctant to analyse the game too much after being shell-shocked by the heavy score line, but reiterated that “World Cup isn’t over” for Italy.

“It’s hard to analyse in the heat of the moment. The score is very high,” he said.

“We put a lot of heart into the battle tonight, which is why it’s hard to analyse. We had a few injuries. We’re a bit disappointed after this match.

“The World Cup isn’t over yet. We’re still holding our heads high.”




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