New Zealander Kieran Crowley will step down as Italy coach after this year’s World Cup in France after the Italian rugby federation (FIR) said it would not be renewing his contract.
Crowley took over as coach of the Azzurri in September 2021, after five years as head coach of Benetton.
The former All Blacks fullback, who coached Canada at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, currently boasts a record of six wins and 13 defeats with Italy.
Two of those victories were memorable ones: beating Wales in Cardiff and Australia, for the first time ever, in Florence.
But the FIR have decided not to renew his contract through to the Rugby World Cup in 2027 — a decision Crowley called unfortunate.
“Now that we have decided to end the relationship with Crowley after the next World Cup, it is time to take stock. And Kieran’s time with Italian rugby is very positive,” FIR president Marzio Innocenti said.
“He raised a group of boys, making them men and players of high international level, and for this we will be eternally grateful.
“But our work together is not yet finished. We have one exciting adventure left to live in France next September and I am sure that Kieran and his team will leave their indelible mark on the history of Italian rugby.”
Crowley said he “would have liked to be involved with the Italian national team for the next Rugby World Cup cycle and I am sorry that the FIR has chosen not to extend my contract”.
“With a World Cup and another four years of international matches, we will have a squad of players averaging 50-60 caps each, an exciting prospect.
“Unfortunately I will not be part of this journey. Now I have to think about what lies immediately ahead of us, namely the World Cup in France, before my departure.”
Gutting doesn’t cover it. @CrowleyKJ is the reason behind the incredible progression of Italian rugby in the last 12 months, building a squad & a style or rugby capable of competing with the best and now the Federation decide to part ways. Madness. A bad day for Italian rugby. pic.twitter.com/jceQF0iUwd
— Il Tricolore ?? (@rugbyitalia96) June 15, 2023
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Photo: EPA/FABIO FRUSTACI