In the wake of Italy’s 20-18 win against South Africa in Florence on Saturday, the Azzurri coach, Irishman Conor O’Shea, and his squad inevitably earned themselves glowing reports in Italian sports media. Several commentators called this the most important ever win for an Italian rugby team while headline writers did not hold back.
Nonetheless, it continued, South Africa were still ranked fourth in the world behind the All Blacks, England and Australia going into the game, while only a year ago, they finished third in the World Cup, adding: “the idea of beating them seems like pure science fiction.
And yet Italy have just beaten South Africa for the first time ever and that would lead you to conclude that, even if it is not possible to change the world, it is possible to change rugby.”
Coming just one week after the All Blacks had beaten Italy 10-68 at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, this victory was certainly not widely expected. Head coach O’Shea earned plaudits for the overall fitness and preparation of the side, for the fact that he was willing to give first caps to two young players, Simone Ferrari and Nicola Quaglio and for a half-time talk that clearly did the job at a moment when Italy were trailing 12-10.
In the immediate aftermath of the game, Italy’s iconic captain Sergio Parisse, who plays for Paris club Stade Francais, recalled his first meeting with the newly appointed Irish coach last June in Paris, saying: “Four months ago, just after he had been appointed, he came to Paris and he said to me, ‘I want to beat the Springboks in November’.
I believed that it could happen but it would have been disrespectful to go around saying ‘we want to win’. In truth, though, given the negative period South Africa are going through, I knew there was a chance of the miracle.
Source : Internet