Sergio Parisse has hit out at World Rugby’s “ridiculous” decision to cancel Italy’s World Cup match against New Zealand.
Super Typhoon Hagibis is due to hit Japan this weekend and World Rugby has cancelled the clash, along with England’s meeting with France.
While improbable when facing the back-to-back world champions, a victory for Italy over New Zealand would have sent the Azzurri into the last eight.
And veteran number eight Parisse has pulled no punches in criticising tournament organisers for not relocating the fixture or altering the match day, instead simply cancelling the encounter and awarding both teams two match points.
“It is difficult to know that we won’t have the chance to play a match against one of the great teams,” said Parisse.
“If New Zealand needed four or five points against us it would not have been cancelled.
“It is ridiculous that a decision of this nature has been made because it isn’t like the fans arrived yesterday.
“It is ridiculous that there was no plan B, because it isn’t news that typhoons hit Japan.
“Sure everyone might think that Italy versus New Zealand being cancelled counts for nothing because we’d have lost anyway, but we deserved to be respected as a team.
“We had the chance to play in a big stadium, against a great team.
“The alternative is plan B. When you organise a World Cup you should have one in place.”
New Zealand boss Steve Hansen admitted he would have been frustrated had he been on the receiving end of the raw deal that Italy now find themselves lamenting.
“If we’d had a choice, we would have rather played Friday (instead of Saturday) but it wasn’t our choice, it was out of our control,” said Hansen.
“We have to back World Rugby’s decision and if other teams miss out, it’s unfortunate, it’ll be disappointing.
“If you want to be really ruthless, then it’s all about making sure you win the games on the way through because everyone knew this could be a possibility.
“That’s pretty hard-nosed, though, because I know if we were in their situation we’d be disappointed not to have the opportunity to get there.
“So yes, there’s a lot of sympathy for them. But the right decisions are being made, because it’s all about safety.
In the chaos of Typhoon Hagibis, spare a thought for Italy. Ghiraldini was set for a 20min farewell cameo against NZ in the final rugby match of his 15yr career. He spent months rehabbing and broke down in tears when news of cancellation broke in training. Sombre mood in Toyota.— Nik Simon (@Nik_Simon88) October 10, 2019
“It’s always a risk at this time of year with the typhoons, but this is when we play the Rugby World Cup.
“If you play it earlier, you run the risk of people dying on the footy field because it’ll be 40 degrees.
“If you play it later, then that’s when we are finished for Christmas, so you’d have Santa Claus giving us the World Cup.”
New Zealand’s fallow weekend hands Hansen’s men an effective two-week build-up to the quarter-finals.
If Scotland’s clash with Japan is also cancelled due to the typhoon, then New Zealand will end up facing Ireland in Tokyo on October 19.
Captain Kieran Read said the All Blacks will happily adapt to their extended break.
“We’ll be ready to go next week,” said Read.
“This cancellation will have no bearing on how we turn out next week. We’re excited by it. We know what we’re doing and it’s exciting.”