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Ticket allocation c*ck-up ???

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    Ticket allocation c*ck-up ??? 93470

    Irish challenge holds no fears for Italian skipper Bortolami

    WHILE the sporting world was still coming to terms with referee Chris White's refusal to let time stand still in the Eternal City, something even more remarkable happened in the Stadio Flaminio an hour after the final whistle acclaimed a deserved second Italian win against Wales.

    When the victorious captain Marco Bortolami and his spiky coach Pierre Berbizier walked into the press room - the awaiting hacks burst into a spontaneous round of applause.

    If anything demonstrated the growing popularity of rugby in a country tainted by soccer shame and economic instability, then this unusual marriage of poachers and gamekeepers spoke volumes.


    "This was a very important win for us," according to Bortolami who, at 27, is one of the most formidable competitors in the game - a potent confection of brain and brawn which mirrors that of Paul O'Connell, second-row partner in last season's team of the championship but sadly absent from this Saturday's tussle.

    "To achieve good results in the Six Nations is so difficult. When you get it, it is fantastic. We won in Scotland but in Rome we have a lot of supporters around us and it was great to give them share in the emotions."

    While Italy aim to closely follow one historical high point by chasing a hat-trick of victories, they must do so in front of a depleted home support after the Italian federation's much-publicised ticket allocation cock-up.

    But that has not dampened the fervour now attached to rugby in the country, with the sport dominating the pages normally occupied by the other football code, calcio, sadly now wallowing in self-pitying despair. With television exposure now hitting 20 per cent, the only way, it seems is up. Winning helps.

    "We need a big performance against Ireland," appreciates Bortolami.

    "We came close to beating them last year so there is no reason why we should not believe it can happen," says the man who was immediately made captain on joining Premiership side Gloucester at the start of the season, his influence so vividly demonstrated to Irish fans when leading his side to victory against Leinster in the Heineken Cup.

    "Our big problem has been understanding how to win games," he adds of the side who last season beat the bookies' handicap on each occasion without once winning a match.


    "Having a lot of our players in England and France (seven of the likely pack ply their trade overseas) is helping us.

    "We have more players who know what it is like to win at the top level. But we need more. We need a strong Italian championship and the Italian clubs to become competitive in the Heineken Cup."

    Former coach John Kirwan has suggested that Italian sides seek to join the Celtic League, as the depleted indigenous outfits are struggling to compete given the raft of émigrés, a typically fraught catch-22 situation for an emerging test nation.

    Stars like Bortolami and the Bergamasco brothers, Mirco and Mauro, have been regulars in adverts and on television chat shows but the sport's new-found popularity masks administrative fault-lines.

    Only when these are addressed can Italy hope to propel themselves into the unlikely arena of being championship contenders.

    What's this about a ticket allocation cock-up ??? Is it going to be a "home" match for us on Paddie's day ???

    <font color=RED>To The Brave And Faithful NOTHING Is Impossible</font>

    <font color=GREEN>Spectemur Agendo</font>

    Supposedly 17,000 tickets were sold to the Irish, so there will only be 8,000 Eyetalians. however at least 8,500 of the Irish will be those who would prefer to be shopping but have to placate their other half.


      17,000 Irish expected CB
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        Jaysis ! Luvlee jublee [img]smileys/biggrin.gif[/img]
        <font color=RED>To The Brave And Faithful NOTHING Is Impossible</font>

        <font color=GREEN>Spectemur Agendo</font>