Published Saturday, 16 March 2013
Brian O'Driscoll walks off after Ireland are defeated in Rome. (© Getty)
The game, which was possibly the last for coach Declan Kidney and former captain Brian O'Driscoll did not end in their favour at Stadio Olimpico, as they succumbed to their first defeat to the Italians in the championship.
Wing Giovanbattista Venditti scored a 49th-minute try while Luciano Orquera kicked 14 points and Gonzalo Garcia a long-range penalty.
The team's injury trouble was added to as wing Keith Earls was escorted off with his left shoulder in a sling as was centre Luke Marshall with a head injury.
All of Ireland's points were supplied by Ulster player Paddy Jackson.
The disappointing result will undoubtedly influence the Irish Rugby Football Union's decision on whether to renew Kidney's contract when it expires in the summer.
I'd have to sit down and think about whether I want a new contract. These guys are a pleasure to work with, but beyond that I'd have to sit back and think about it.
Ireland Coach Declan Kidney
"I said all along that I'd concentrate on each game as it came and that's all I've done today," Kidney said after the game.
"I wasn't thinking that this could be my last match as coach, all I was concentrating on was getting the win.
"I wanted to get a result out of today, we didn't manage to do that and we'll reflect on it over the coming days and weeks."
The coach also defended O'Driscoll, who spent ten minutes in the sin-bin for stamping, but escaped a red card for the offence.
"Brian has had a strong Six Nations given everything that has been going on for him," Kidney added.
"He was outstanding against Wales and had a good match against France. I thought he did well today too.
"He's earned the space and time to be able to make up his own mind. Players are the only ones who know when the time is right to go."
Ireland finished fifth in the championship, avoiding being awarded the dreaded wooden spoon after France could not beat Scotland by the necessary margin on Saturday night.