Italy coach Jacques Brunel is stepping down following the end of the Six Nations and so his final home match in charge, Saturday’s 36-20 defeat by Scotland, wasn’t exactly a fond farewell.
But Brunel remained upbeat at full-time, expressing his love for the Stadio Olimpico and insisting that his team will battle in their final two fixtures – against Ireland in a fortnight and in Wales on Saturday 19 March – to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.
“For me it has always been a pleasure to be in this stadium, which has always supported the team,” said the departing Azzurri coach, pictured, who has been in charge for four-and-a-half years. “It’s a memory that I will treasure forever.”
Analysing where Saturday’s fixture was lost, Brunel highlighted Italy’s slow start, when Vern Cotter’s visitors raced into the lead with two tries. “We conceded two early tries and were trailing all game,” explained Brunel.
“But we came back to within six points. Then we conceded a penalty from the restart. We can’t criticise the desire of the team. We had the chance to come back in the final ten minutes but we were a bit too frenzied.”
Brunel added: “What I want to take from this is that despite all the youngsters, we tried to stay in it all game. We have to keep this mindset for the last two games.
“We will try to maintain the enthusiasm all game. Our last two games are difficult but we will fight.”