Thursday 21 February 2019

Conor O'Shea receives backing of Italian Rugby Federation after speculation over his future

Conor O’Shea will hope to leave his mark on Italy. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Conor O’Shea will hope to leave his mark on Italy. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Tony Considine

The Italian Rugby Federation have denied French media reports that they are considering replacing their head coach, Conor O’Shea, with the Racing 92 pair of Laurent Travers and Laurent Labit.

A report in the fortnightly rugby paper, Midi Olympique stated that Travers and Labit, who were sounded out about the role before O’Shea’s appointment in 2016, had been approached again with a view to taking over after this year’s World Cup. The duo extended their Racing contracts until 2022 last October.

The President of Federazione Italiana Rugby, Alfredo Gavazz responded to the report via Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, tweeting: "Unlike the information broadcast by some French media, Federugby has never made contact with Laurent Travers and/or Laurence Labit. Unfounded rumors: all our support for Conor, his staff and the entire team for the Six Nations."

O’Shea has come under pressure after a run of just two wins in his last 13 games. Since taking control, the former Harlequins boss has only won six of the 28 games he was in charge for, with none of those wins coming in the Six Nations.

However, a win against Georgia in the autumn has silenced calls in some quarters that the Azzurri should be replaced in the championship by the eastern European outfit, for the time being.

The 35-times capped Irishman is currently entering the last year of a four-year deal due to expire after the 2020 Six Nations. Italy begin this year's campaign with a trip to Scotland on February 2nd and host Ireland at the Stadio Olimpico on February 24th.

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