It Looks Like Conor O’Shea Will Not Be Replaced As Italy Head Coach After All

The plot thickens.

Conor O’Shea will not be stepping down as Italy head coach after the World Cup in Japan it seems, contrary to widespread reports yesterday.

South Africa franchise the Cheetahs yesterday released a statement revealing their head coach Franco Smith will be stepping down ahead of next season after he was “offered the opportunity to coach the Italian national side from January 1, 2020.”

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“The board of directors is proud of and wishes Franco the best of luck with the opportunity to coach on an international level until the next World Cup in 2023” the statement continued.

However, the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) have now issued a statement insisting “no recruitment process for the National Team Head Coach position is in place.”

The FIR said it was in “talks and negotiations with international level coaches, with the aim of consolidating and further enhancing the technical offer of the national men’s senior team.”

The Irish Times reported O’Shea, who is contracted to the end of the 2020 season, would stay as Italy’s head coach for the next Six Nations tournament, and possibly beyond.

“I am currently working with the Italian Federation with a view to supplementing and adding to our coaching team after the World Cup, and until such time as something is finalised neither myself nor the Italian Federation are in a position to make any further comment.” O’Shea told The Irish Times

“When we have something finalised we will make a statement, but I will be continuing with Italy after the World Cup.”