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Rugby World Cup 2019: Italy captain Parisse hits out at ‘ridiculous’ decision to cancel New Zealand clash

Sergio Parisse believes World Rugby would not have cancelled Italy’s clash with New Zealand if the All Blacks needed a victory to qualify from Pool B.

The reigning champions were set to go up against Italy in their final group game at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday. However, with Typhoon Hagibis due to hit Japan, the fixture has been called off.

With each side awarded two points, New Zealand will top the table while Italy finish in third, meaning they miss out on a chance to claim an unlikely win and progress to the quarter-finals.

It is a decision Parisse has branded as “ridiculous”, insisting the match would have gone ahead had it been vital for their opponents. 

“It’s difficult to know that we won’t have the chance to play a match against one of the great teams,” said Parisse in a news conference. “If New Zealand needed four or five points against us, it would not have been cancelled.

“We had the chance to play in a big stadium against a great team. It’s ridiculous that a decision of this nature has been made.

“If Italy and New Zealand decide they don’t want to play, then that’s fine. But, as I said, if New Zealand needed the points, it wouldn’t have been cancelled.”

Parisse also questioned the back-up planning by tournament organisers when knowing a World Cup during storm season would always put matches at risk.

“It’s ridiculous that there was no plan B because it isn’t news that typhoons hit Japan,” Parisse added.

“When you organise a World Cup you should have one in place. Sure, everyone might think that Italy v New Zealand being cancelled counts for nothing because we’d have lost anyway, but we deserved to be respected as a team.”

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, in contrast, described the decision as a “no-brainer” when speaking to the media.

“The reality is we can’t control the weather,” Hansen told a news conference.

“Do we charge on and put lives at risk? Or do we lead and make a decision that’s around making sure people are safe? It’s a no-brainer.”

KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta

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