Wales hit back at Italy’s accusations of ‘unpleasant’ treatment

Wales Aaron Wainwright is tackled by Italy's Michele Lamaro during the Guinness Six Nations 2024 match between Wales and Italy at Principality Stadium on March 16, 2024 in Cardiff, Wales
Italy capped off a strong Six Nations with a victory in Cardiff - Getty Images/Ian Cook

The Welsh Rugby Union have insisted that relations with Italy are “as mutually respectful and positive as they have ever been” in the wake of comments made by the Azzurri captain Michele Lamaro suggesting that his side were shown a lack of respect in Cardiff.

In comments made to Gazzetta dello Sport on Monday, Lamaro claimed that his side’s warm-up had been cut short while Wales had been allowed to carry on before kick-off. He added that the players’ partners were given seats with poor views of the action in the Principality Stadium and that the partners had also been denied entry to the post-match festivities.

Telegraph Sport has learned that tickets for players and their families in Cardiff are allocated by the visiting team after receiving their allocation from the WRU, with seats offered in different positions around the ground, while the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) were also offered the opportunity before the match to invite players’ partners to the post-match function.

Wales’ warm-up did run longer than the Italians by two-and-a-half minutes, although sources have informed Telegraph Sport that Italy’s management were also offered the chance to extend their warm-up by a similar length of time and declined. Italy went on to win comfortably in Cardiff to wrap up their best-ever Six Nations campaign, with two wins and one draw in five matches.

In response to Lamaro’s comments, WRU CEO Abi Tierney said: “We have spoken to Italy’s President Marzio Innocenti to clarify recent comments made by their captain Michele Lamaro about the team’s visit to Cardiff.

“We can confirm that relations between the FIR and the WRU are as mutually respectful and positive as they have ever been. Indeed, Marzio has repeated the commendations he made to us on matchday about the warm welcome he received and the way in which we hosted him and his impressive Italian side at Principality Stadium.”

Innocenti, FIR President, added: “The relationship between FIR and WRU couldn’t be better, as we share a common love for the game which leads our actions. As happened two years ago, the welcome that WRU granted us was one of the warmest and friendliest that I do recall in my life-time rugby experience.

“In my stint as FIR President I won both times in Cardiff, witnessing the sportsmanship and the unparalleled rugby culture that resonates among Welsh board members and fans. In the heat of the game, emotions and small things or behaviours easily turn into irritations for the players, making their words sound controversial when they’re not. Michele, our captain, was just underlining that we still need to work hard and win before other Tier 1 teams accept as a not so remote possibility a home defeat against Italy.

“I suggested straight after the game to my colleague Terry Cobner to establish the Carwyn James and Roy Bish Cup, to be yearly awarded to the Wales v Italy winner in the Guinness Six Nations, in honour of two great Welshmen and rugbymen who so deeply contributed to the Italian rugby development. It will be a testament to the unbreakable bonds between our countries.”

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