The Mallet, the mop and rugby

THE first thing Italy rugby coach Nick Mallet needs to do this morning is to find a barber.

THE first thing Italy rugby coach Nick Mallet needs to do this morning is to find a barber.

Taking a bet with his players that if they lost to the Springboks on Saturday by less than 20 points, he would shave his head, the coach promised he will be true to his word.

"The next time you see me, it'll be with shorter hair," he told a press conference shortly after his teams 13-29 loss in Witbank.

But haircuts aside, Mallet was full of pride after the way his team never gave up against the world champions.

"We showed some ill-discipline under the high ball to go into the halftime break 3-22 down, we could have let the game slip away.

"I'm very proud of the guys. If you look at last week the French conceded 42 points to the Springboks so this gives some perspective to our efforts," Mallet said.

Mallet did admit, though, that this was not a Springbok side firing on all cylinders.

"Rugby is a strange game," he said. "It's very tough for players to be 100 per cent every week." he said.

And Springbok coach Peter de Villiers, realises his team's performance wasn't of the same intensity as against France.

"We have to sit down, identify and rectify where we went wrong today. The scrum was good but the individual skills of some players was down and that was disappointing.

"We set very high standards for ourselves and that contributes to our unhappiness," said De Villiers.

"Next week we will be a better side," he promised.

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