Rugby World Cup 2019: All Blacks reportedly turn down chance to reschedule Italy encounter

World Rugby has slammed reports that the All Blacks turned down the opportunity to reschedule their match against Italy as "categorically untrue".

The match, planned for Saturday, was cancelled on Thursday due to Typhoon Hagibis.

However, since then former international and Telegraph columnist Brian Moore reported that the All Blacks were offered the chance to play the test on Monday and declined. 

He claimed Steve Hansen wanted more than five days to prepare for a quarter-final clash against either Japan, Scotland or Ireland.

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Now, World Rugby has told NZME that any talk of the All Blacks turning down a Monday fixture was "categorically untrue".

"Monday was not on the cards," the rugby body said in a statement to NZME. "We have to treat all teams/matches fairly, not the few, and that was central to our contingency plans process relating to a dynamic and complex adverse weather situation."

The All Blacks initially offered to move the game forward a day and play Italy on Friday, but that offer was declined by tournament organisers.

The cancellation comes as a surprise, as tournament regulations state that cancelled games during pool play are ruled a 0-0 draw.

On Thursday, Hansen said he supported World Rugby's decision to cancel the games.

"If we'd had a choice, we would have rather played Friday [instead of Saturday], but it wasn't our choice, it was out of our control," he explained. 

 "We have to back World Rugby's decision and if other teams miss out, it's unfortunate, it'll be disappointing.

"If you want to be really ruthless, then it's all about making sure you win the games on the way through, because everyone knew this could be a possibility.

"That's pretty hard-nosed, though, because I know if we were in their situation, we'd be disappointed not to have the opportunity to get there. So, yes, there's a lot of sympathy for them, but the right decisions are being made, because it's all about safety."

Italian captain Sergio Parisse lashed out at the news, with other players reduced to tears. 

Parisse was upset, as the cancellation denied him, and teammates Leonardo Ghiraldini and Alessandro Zanni the chance to end their international rugby careers properly.

"If New Zealand needed 4-5 points against us, it would not have been cancelled," Parisse said. "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 canceled counts for nothing, because we'd have lost anyway, but we deserved to be respected as a team."

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