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Parisse tears for Ghiraldini on Six Nations 'farewell'

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Rome (AFP)

Italy rugby great Sergio Parisse fought back tears after what could be his final Six Nations match but insisted his emotion was for veteran teammate Leonardo Ghiraldini who was stretchered off with a knee injury in a 25-14 defeat to France.

"My last game of the tournament? I don't know if this is my last match, we don't care," said the 35-year-old Stade Francais player of a game which was there for the taking against a weakened France.

"My emotion was not for my last match but because of Leonardo's situation."

Toulouse hooker Ghiraldini was carried off with a knee injury to thundering applause for his final home game after 104 caps.

The 34-year-old could have suffered a cruciate ligament injury which would rule him out of the World Cup in September.

"When I saw Leo at the end it was hard because he gives so much. When you see teammates hurting themselves it's hard."

The Italians missed numerous chances to break their 22-match losing run in the tournament going back to February 2015.

"It's a moment of emotion, but not for my last match, but disappointment," continued Parisse.

"It's complicated to explain how, with so much possession and opportunity, a little bit of bad luck, you lose.

"There's frustration to say that we have dominated this team so much, but if we don't score we can't win.

"Congratulations to the French team who dug deep and scored a try in the end to widen the gap.

"That doesn't reflect, without exaggerating, the match."

Parisse is the tournament record cap-holder with 69 games played, including 51 as captain, ahead of Irishman Brian O'Driscoll's 65.

He earned his first cap against the All Blacks in June 2002, and has played 138 Tests since his debut.

"It's been the most difficult Six Nations," continued Parisse, who has said he intends to retire after this year's World Cup.

"Disappointed that we lost a match like that with so much possession."

"We hope that Leo's injury isn't too serious," added coach Conor O'Shea.

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