Italy’s Rugby World Cup players go on strike

Italy’s Rugby World Cup preparations have started on the wrong foot after players refused to take part in the first training session in a row over pay.

The Italian rugby federation said it had “taken note” of the players’ decision “to neither take part in training nor wear federation kit before a financial agreement is found over participation in summer training and the World Cup”.

Forty players had gathered at Niederdorf/Villabassa, close to the northern town of Bolzano, for the June 14-July 3 training camp. However, captain Sergio Parisse and veteran prop Martin Castrogiovanni were both absent after their Top 14 efforts with Stade Francais and Toulon respectively.

The Italian internationals want a match-by-match bonus for the September 18-October 31 World Cup in England instead of a one-off payment linked to their performances, as desired by the federation.

Italy, coached by Frenchman Jacques Brunel, have further training camps in L’Aquila (July 12-25) and then Fiuggi, near Rome (August 2-9).

Italy warm up for the World Cup with Tests against Scotland (Aug 22 and Aug 29) in Turin and Edinburgh respectively, and against Wales (Sept 5) in Cardiff.

Come September 18, the Italians are in Pool D alongside France, Ireland, Canada and Romania.

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