Head coach Conor O’Shea issued an impassioned defence of Italy after a 36-15 defeat to England at the end of a week in which the Azzurri’s Six Nations place has been scrutinised.
Italy’s refusal to contest rucks in the first half bamboozled England, who belatedly rallied in a six-try, bonus-point victory.
Georgia are outside the Six Nations elite, but ranked higher in the world rankings than Italy, who joined the championship in 2000 but are perennially sixth and have yet to beat England.
“I love rugby, always have, and I want to see this game grow,” said O’Shea, whose side lost 63-10 to Ireland in Rome two weeks ago.
“All I hear is people saying: get rid, get rid. This is an unbelievable rugby nation which is in trouble. We are going to have to fight long and hard. The changes may not happen on our watch, but we’ll have good days and tough days. We’ll do it our way. We might fail, but we won’t fail trying.”
Former Ireland full-back O’Shea lamented the lack of praise heaped on Italy, who last November beat South Africa and were prepared to innovate at Twickenham.
O’Shea added: “When we beat South Africa, they were terrible; England beat South Africa here for the first time in 10 years, ‘well done, brilliant’. We do something that’s been done by Wasps and Australia, and we do it and it’s wrong. Why always us? Why?
“We will dig our way out of this hole by thinking differently. It’s not a magic wand; you work, and you’re passionate. If you have hope, you have got something to aim for.
“We wanted to give them hope that they weren’t just going to fill a pitch and be here like the old gladiators and the crowd wanting a hundred (points). There’s so much to do, but we’ll do it and I think today you could almost say we’ve had enough and we’re going to fight.”
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