Sergio Parisse: Game wouldn't have been cancelled if New Zealand needed points

Sergio Parisse is set to retire from Test rugby after the World Cup. The cancellation means he will be denied his chance to bid farewell against the All Blacks. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images

Italy legend Sergio Parisse has labelled the decision to cancel their final Rugby World Cup pool match "ridiculous" and accused World Rugby of a lack of respect.

With Typhoon Hagibis due to hit on Saturday, World Rugby announced Thursday that both England-France and New Zealand-Italy were being cancelled as pre-emptive measures.

Italy were still in the mix for a spot in the final eight and needed a win over New Zealand to progress. But they will now finish their 2019 World Cup in third place in Pool B, as the cancellation means the game is declared a draw and they are awarded two points.

Parisse, 36, was likely to make his final appearance for Italy on Saturday in a remarkable international career that has seen him win 142 caps. And he was left bemused by World Rugby's call and said if the fortunes were switched and it was the All Blacks needing a win then the organisers would have found a way to ensure the game went ahead.

"It is difficult to know that we won't have the chance to play a match against one of the great teams," Parisse said, according to the Rugby News Service. "If New Zealand needed four or five points against us it would not have been cancelled.

"It is ridiculous that a decision of this nature has been made because it isn't like the fans arrived yesterday. It is ridiculous that there was no plan B, because it isn't news that typhoons hit Japan.

"Sure, everyone might think that Italy versus New Zealand being cancelled counts for nothing because we'd have lost anyway, but we deserved to be respected as a team.

"We had the chance to play in a big stadium, against a great team. The alternative is plan B. When you organise a World Cup you should have one in place. Sure, if Italy and New Zealand decide they don't want to play, then fine, but as I said before if New Zealand needed the points it wouldn't have been cancelled."

The game would also have been Conor O'Shea's final match in charge of Italy and he was left upset by the decision to cancel the match rather than finding another way to ensure it would be played.

"We had the chance to qualify," O'Shea said. "I'm not saying we would have beaten them, but you want to finish on the pitch.

"I'm finding it really difficult and I saw the players' reaction after training and it was horrible because these guys have given their lives to Italian rugby and their World Cup has ended on the training pitch, when it should be on the playing field.

"For the World Cup not to finish in front of the fans on the pitch, in front of the fans watching on TV in Italy, it is a hard day for all of us and difficult to put into words.

"I feel bad for Sergio and the whole squad not to have the possibility to finish their World Cup on the pitch in front of the fans, and then together in the changing room. To have to accept it won't be the case is really, really hard to take."