Kieran Crowley blasts Italy bosses after final Rugby World Cup match

Jared Wright
Head Coach of Italy Kieran Crowley during the Rugby World Cup Pool A match between New Zealand and Italy at Stade de Lyon

Head Coach of Italy Kieran Crowley during the Rugby World Cup Pool A match between New Zealand and Italy at Stade de Lyon

Departing Italy head coach Kieran Crowley has hit out at the bigwigs at the Italian Rugby Federation after the Azzurri exited the Rugby World Cup.

The ex-All Black slammed those in charge of rugby in Italy for lacking ‘respect’ for the players.

Former Stade Francais and Jaguares coach Gonzalo Quesada will take over the head coach role from Crowley ahead of the 2024 Six Nations.

Players deserve more respect

Italy confirmed the coach change ahead of the Rugby World Cup, a move that has been criticised, with Crowley now heading to Japan to coach Honda Heat after helping Italy end their winless run in the Six Nations and a historic victory over Australia.

“These boys, they’d die for you; they’ve got a lot of pride,” Crowley said after the defeat to France as Italy bowed out of the competition.

“I just hope they start getting treated with a bit more respect after this. For the next World Cup cycle, there will be a lot of players with 50 or 60 test matches by then, so that will be good.”

The 62-year-old reiterated that stance during the post-match press conference.

“I’ve said before I would like to take this team forward; I think the next World Cup is their cycle,” Crowley told reporters.

“What needs to happen, though, is these players need to start being treated with a bit of respect off the field.

“They need to get some of their stuff sorted. So, quite honestly, I don’t know whether I’d want to be involved unless they get it sorted.

“I’d love to take these boys forward, but I will be eating some sushi and watching from afar.”

In June this year, Italy confirmed that this would be Crowley’s final year in charge, with the decision and timing heavily criticised.

However, the outgoing coach said that the pending departure did not impact his performance at the World Cup.

“It didn’t affect my performance, I don’t think, although it made for an interesting dynamic,” he said.

“But New Zealand have been in the same boat, haven’t they, and they’re going to the quarter-finals. Ian Foster is in the same boat. The decision was made, and you’ve got to roll with it.”

Performance against France

The Azzurri were hammered 96-17 by the All Blacks in their penultimate pool game and lost 60-7 to France in their final match.

“Very disappointed, but we got a reaction,” Crowley said of the result.

“I think we were in the game, but we started poorly. We gave away three penalties early. But we got a reaction; you saw how they fought towards the end.

“They stuck at it today. If we could have gone into half-time at 24-7, the game would have been a lot closer. Those are little things that make a massive difference.

“We are where everyone expected us to be; we finished third in the table. We could have played a different game and probably kept the score closer, but that’s not a game that would have given us an opportunity to win.”

READ MORE: France v Italy: Five takeaways from the Rugby World Cup clash as Matthieu Jalibert puts on a show