Italy’s Rugby World Cup strike called off

Embattled Italy’s training for the Rugby World Cup will resume after cool-the-air
talks with Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) officials led both parties to a resolution.

Italy’s preparations for the September 18-October 31 event have been hit by
a spat between the squad and federation president Alfredo Gavazzi over performance-related
payment and bonuses, among other issues.

The dispute worsened last week when the Italian rugby players’ association
(GIRA) issued a sternly-worded statement to refute claims the players had refused
to turn up to training camp.

A statement issued by the FIR on Saturday suggested the parties have now resolved
their issues, allowing Italy to concentrate on preparing to meet France, Ireland,
Canada and Romania in Pool D of the competition.

“The Italian Rugby Federation announces that, following a series of meetings
in recent days, an agreement has been reached with the national squad to guarantee
their return to training and preparing for the 2015 Rugby World Cup,” said
the statement.

“The agreement, in particular, will see all players called up to pre-season
training rewarded financially in accordance with the principles of merit repeatedly
highlighted by FIR.

“The 40 squad players will return to training camp at 18th tomorrow (Sunday).
Now, we have to let our game do the talking: all the players have our full backing
for what we hope will be a successful World Cup.”

Reports last week initially claimed Italy’s players had refused to attend a
scheduled June 14-July 3 training camp in the northern town of Villabassa until
certain conditions relating to pay and bonuses at the World Cup were met.

The Italian internationals reportedly want a match-by-match bonus instead of
a one-off payment linked to their performances, as desired by the federation.

The dispute reached a climax last Monday when the FIR claimed players had refused
to turn up to training.

However, GIRA refuted the FIR’s version of events.

“These are staggering claims by the FIR,” said a GIRA statement.

“All the players turned up for the training camp and will remain at the
camp.

“Given the overall situation, the FIR hierarchy announced the dissolution
of the training camp and invited the players to leave.”

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.

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