Italians catch cold

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The Independent Online
After putting 50 points on Middlesex in torrential rain, the Italian rugby tourists said they wanted to broaden their experience in all possible conditions. But this did not extend to cold, let alone frost, and despite the best efforts of the Lon don Irish club, yesterday's match against Surrey at Sunbury was cancelled less than an hour from kick-off, writes Steve Bale.

The Italian Development team, who are made up of virtually the full national side, go on to Edinburgh on Thursday before meeting Scotland A in Perth on Saturday. With preparation for the World Cup their intention, it is curious they should be so reluctant to play.

Yesterday morning London Irish said the game was definitely on but, although the sun did not thaw the pitch as expected, the club had taken the precaution of arranging a playable alternative adjacent to the ground and were not pleased when the Italians declined.

Italy are among the fastest-improving teams in international rugby but the presence of England in their World Cup group has evidently persuaded them of the need to make training the priority. This they will do at Richmond this morning - weather permitting.

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