O’Shea defends Italy’s Six Nations place

Italy boss Conor O'Shea insisted that the Azzurri have earned their right to be part of the Six Nations after being hammered by Ireland.

The result was one of Italy's worst for some time and comes on the back of a 33-7 loss to Wales the previous Sunday.

O'Shea reiterated the point he made before the tournament started that Italy had earned their right to feature in the tournament based on past results.

"There will always be discussion but we have earned the right with performances over the years to be where we are: until the rules change there is no debate."

O'Shea went on to say that the Azzurri would continue to balance short-term and long-term aims in their bid to improve.

"We have to learn, we have to get mentally stronger, and we have a lot to change in Italian rugby to get that," O'Shea said.

"But I could name a lot of players in the 90s who were great Irish rugby players and without the right support were not able to fulfil what they could do.

"We have a really good group of players, and people will smile wryly, they will hang their heads – we will never hang our heads. And the intention is to fight tooth and nail to make the changes but also fulfil some short-term ambitions.

"I hate days like this. But we know what we have to do. But I still want the short-term to be great performances."