Mallett hails momentous win
March 12, 2011
Mirco Bergamasco landed the winning kick in Rome © Getty Images
Italy coach Nick Mallett hailed his team's 22-21 home triumph over France as one of his proudest moments in his coaching career.
The result in Rome was the Azzurri's first ever win against Les Bleus in the Six Nations. "It's one of the proudest moments as coach, for sure," Mallett said."I am very proud of my players' performance. I asked my players to keep close to France in the first half and we did just that.
"The first 20 minutes of the second half was perhaps our worst 20 minutes but my players reacted after being down 18-6. With 15 minutes to go, I could see that it was a struggle for France and I told my players to continue to attack them and my players did just that."
The victory was all the more special as it was their first in this year's tournament. The Azzurri had lost 24-16 at home to Wales last time out having previously been trounced 59-13 by England at Twickenham. Mallett's men were beaten 13-11 by Ireland in their Six Nations opener.
"I think we have played our best three games at home in the history of our Six Nations," Mallett said."We were unlucky against Ireland and Wales but we were rewarded in this game."
Mallett believes that France will bounce back from this setback. "I think France have talent, they have quality players," he said. "I think it is a team that can easily qualify for the semi-finals of the World Cup. But rugby is bizarre and if you don't have the mental motivation..."
Mallett does not believe this historic triumph is a turning point for his team, who travel to Murrayfield to face Scotland in their final Test.
"We have to be humble," he said. "The tournament is not over and we have a game at Scotland on Saturday. We have another opportunity to play a great game next weekend."
France coach Marc Lievremont, meanwhile, made no excuses for his team's poor showing in Rome. "We are disappointed," Lievremont said. "Italy merited the win. I am saddened and frustrated. Italy looked the better side for the 80 minutes.
"I knew that we could lose one day to Italy but I didn't think it was going to happen so soon. We needed to battle on the pitch and we didn't do that. I thought my players were focused on this game but they weren't. I would have preferred an ugly win to a sad loss. We now have to continue to work."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September