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Italy captain Sergio Parisse hoping for change after dismal Six Nations

Italy captain Sergio Parisse feels that "maybe things will change" when the Azzurri begin a new coaching era this summer.

Harlequins rugby director Conor O'Shea is clear favourite to succeed Italy head coach Jacques Brunel, whose last game in charge produced a record 67-14 defeat against Wales.

While Brunel now heads to French Top 14 club Bordeaux-Begles as forwards coach, Parisse and company must look ahead and quickly leave behind them the wreckage of a demoralising RBS 6 Nations campaign that saw them finish last for an 11th time in 17 seasons, concede 224 points and 29 tries.

"There are no excuses," Parisse said.

"We are going to take the opportunity to work, and from June we are going to have different staff and maybe things will change.

"It is difficult to play matches when you lose by 50 or 60 points. Sometimes we try to do good things - we scored two good tries (against Wales) - but there were too many mistakes in defence and Wales played with a lot of speed.

"They scored two tries from first phase, and at this level that is not acceptable. It was a really good performance from Wales, but at the same time it was a really poor performance from us.

"We had a lot of injuries, a lot of players with problems, and especially for the young guys, we have to keep working, learn from this defeat and build something for the future.

"This campaign has been very difficult, but every single nation and every single team sometimes gets a lot of injuries. Maybe for us it is difficult because we don't have as much depth in our group."

Italy's latest bout of Six Nations misery will inevitably see a promotion and relegation debate reignited between the tournament and Europe's top Tier 2 countries.

Georgia were crowned European Nations Cup winners on Saturday with a 38-9 victory over Romania in Tbilisi, and there are many who feel that a play-off between the Six Nations bottom team and Nations Cup champions should be established.

Parisse, though, has underlined his position as a staunch defender of Italy's Six Nations status, especially given a record that includes past victories over Wales, Ireland, Scotland and France.

"When you lose matches, it's normal that everyone talks about relegation. I understand that," he added.

"But I think there is no way to have relegation in this tournament, because can you imagine next year if someone like Ireland or Scotland are last and got relegated? Do you think the (national) federations are going to accept that? Imagine France have a really, really poor campaign.

"I really respect all the other nations - Georgia and Romania have really progressed a lot - but we have been involved in this tournament (Six Nations) because we have had some great results and beaten Wales, Ireland, France and Scotland.

"Obviously, it's a difficult campaign, but I think at the same time the other nations must have historic results as we did in the past, and maybe one day they will be involved in this tournament.

"In the last 10-15 years, we have had some historic results, and tell me another nation that deserves more than us to be involved, because they don't have the same results."


From Belfast Telegraph