Italians Complain About Referee

In the aftermath of Italy’s 32-10 Rugby World Cup Pool D defeat to France on Saturday at Twickenham, Azzurri coach Jacques Brunel has said the French were worthy winners, but bemoaned the performance of referee Craig Joubert.  Speaking after the match, Brunel said:  ‘France deserved to win, but the difference between the two teams is not the one who says the final score.  It was clear that the absence of (Sergio) Parisse is important to us, but above all I believe that the management of scrums has unbalanced the game.  And even the loss of a player of the charisma of Andrea Masi after a few minutes has affected us.  it is the third match that we lose in two weeks and we will have to address this.’

The defeat leaves the Italians needing to beat Ireland if they are to maintain any hopes of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time.  The coach says:  ‘France is the runner-up from the last World Cup and are favored to reach the next round and win the group.  I think that our attitude was great and in the end, the gap in the score does not represent the state of play.  I do not want to believe that from the referee there were prejudices against (Martin) Castrogiovanni, but against Wales we had had four penalties in our favour from the scrum whereas against France we were penalised six times out of nine in this regard and we cannot see the reason why.’

Italy captain on the night Leonardo Ghiraldini added:  ‘When we had the ball we were able to advance, but especially in the first half we got back from the offensive phases with the points on the board.  The attitude was what I had asked the team, and at every stage of the game I thought it was good.. Now we look at Canada, and with three games to go our tournament is not over.  Of course today was a very important game, but we have to keep believing and our mentality must remain the same as of tomorrow.  We have to maintain this intensity  Not to make excuses, but the scrum is a key of the game at international level, especially for us because it allows us to create intensity and continuity in our game.’

For his part, Castrogiovanni focused on the many free kicks whistled against the Italian scrum and commented:  ‘It’s been a frustrating evening.  The scrum played as always, and I do not understand why against Wales all was well and the opposite was true tonight.  If we had been destroyed by the French in the fray I would have nothing to complain about, but it was not so,  I do not know what to say.  We advanced and we were penalised.  It would be important to understand what they (referees) expect, because we played as usual, but so many fouls blown against us prevented us from staying in the game.’