Italy deserve some 'respect'
REACTION: Kieran Crowley said he is trying to build an Italian team that the game’s big guns respect after the Azzurri claimed a landmark 28-27 win over Australia on Saturday.
Italy stunned the Wallabies in Florence thanks to two tries from Ange Capuozzo and another from Pierre Bruno on a remarkable day for a national team which has often been seen as whipping boys for the game’s top nations.
“Our biggest focus has been that we had to create an identity, we had to get credibility and respect and you only get that by the way you play,” Crowley told reporters.
“That’s been our foundation, we’re trying to build credibility, build respect, and we’re playing a game that suits the players that we have.”
The Italians soaked up rounds of rapturous applause as they did laps of the Stadio Artemio Franchi, after coming through a nail-biting finish at the end.
Over 20,000 fans let out a huge roar of delight and relief when Australia’s Ben Donaldson missed his conversion attempt following Cadeyrn Neville’s added-time try which cut Italy’s lead to a single point.
“We’re planning to have a party, because in Test match rugby you must enjoy your wins. If it had gone over in the end it would have been a different situation,” added Crowley.
“The positive for me is that we got in a position to win and we ended up winning. So we will learn a lot from that.
“The performance out there from the group of players was outstanding. I asked them to die for Italy today and I think they did that.”
(Continue below …)
A beaming Crowley laughed when asked whether Saturday’s win was the best of his coaching career, the Kiwi insisting however that beating the Aussies didn’t have any special flavour.
“Any win is a good result… it’s way up there, you look at the scenes after the game, what it means to the players and what it means to the fans,” he said.
Despondent Australia coach Dave Rennie said that he hadn’t underestimated Italy despite making 12 changes — one enforced — to the team which also lost by one point to France last weekend.
“We knew the strengths of this Italian side and we didn’t start well,” said Rennie.
“It’s hugely disappointing and not good enough. It hurts everybody involved, as we had a good enough side on the field.”
Rennie said that replacement fly-half Donaldson was “hurting” after missing the conversion which would have given his team a last-gasp win from a thrilling match.
“We’ll definitely put an arm around him,” he said.
“You can look at the last seconds of the game but there’s a lot of things that we got wrong… you feel for him but he’s not the reason we lost today.”