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Paris blunder puts Parisse under pressure vs. England

Fri, Feb 12, 2016, Posted by   print

2007 World Cup

Italy landed in Rome last Sunday having suffered another defeat on French soil but with plenty to cheer about. The 23-21 loss in Saint Denis was the lowest margin the Italians had lost by in Paris since the launch of the Six Nations in 2000.

Indeed, it was the only single-digit margin of defeat in that time and, more importantly, it represented the first time the Azzurri had a real shot at victory in a fixture that has traditionally been out of their reach.

But when the match-winning moment arrived, Italy froze. And Sergio Parisse attempted a drop goal that has left the nation scratching its head.

The Italy captain was one of the main protagonists on the pitch in Saint Denis. He scored a try, set up the second one and was at the centre of an enormous number of plays, both in attack and in defence — just as he was on his debut against the All Blacks in Hamilton, way back in 2002.

Since then he has been a key factor in almost every Test he has played, becoming Italy’s second-most capped player of all time — one appearance off the record — its most-capped captain and without doubt the most talented player to wear the blue shirt.

Parisse has won French titles, reached European finals, been selected for the most illustrious invitational teams, and even received a nomination for the 2013 IRB Player of the Year. Put simply, he is the best player Italy has ever produced.

Based on his experience, then, one could easily argue the merit of his decision to force a drop goal out of nothing, in a key area, with role-kickers on the pitch and with no seconds on the clock. But, having watched that play dozens of times, I still do not know why he decided to do it.

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