Italy World Cup squad on strike

Date published: June 15 2015

Italy's World Cup squad did not train on Monday as part of a players' strike relating to a dispute over performance bonuses.

In a statement on Monday, the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) said it had "taken note" of the players' decision "to neither take part in training nor wear federation kit before a financial agreement is found over participation in summer training and the World Cup".

A 40-man Azzurri squad has gathered at Villabassa in northern Italy for a three-week training camp, the first of coach Jacques Brunel's three pre-World Cup camps, although skipper captain Sergio Parisse and veteran prop Martin Castrogiovanni were both absent having featured in the Top 14 final and semi-finals with Stade Français and Toulon respectively.

The players are insisting on match-by-match bonuses at the World Cup while their Federation is only willing to offer a once-off payment linked to their performances.

The players have taken their protest to Twitter, using the hastag #portacirispetto ('respect us')

"I am disappointed by the attitude taken by the athletes," said FIR President Alfredo Gavazzi.

"Not so much for the situation but because this decision denotes unwillingness to back their sporting ability.

"The offer that was presented is consistent with the our current positioning and with the agreements between the athletes and the Tier 1 federations closest to us in the rankings. 

"I remain confident that, as always, common sense will prevail and, together, we can….significantly increasing attention to results. "

Italy will play home and away warm up games against Scotland in August and another in Cardiff against Wales on September 5.

Come September 18, the Italians are in Pool D alongside France, Ireland, Canada and Romania.