|Location||Lombardy & Emilia-Romagna, Italy|
|Ground(s)||Stadio Luigi Zaffanella, Viadana (Capacity: 6,000)|
Rowland Phillips (Head Coach)
Andrea Moretti (Forwards)
Antonio Zanichelli (Backs)
Andrew Scotney (Backs)
Aironi Rugby (Italian pronunciation: [aiˈroni], "herons") was an Italian professional rugby union team competing in the Pro12 and the Heineken Cup, representing the Italian regions of Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna. It lost its status as a regional side at the end of the 2011-12 season, as the Italian Rugby Federation revoked its licence for financial reasons. They were replaced by Zebre from the 2012-13 season.
The team's primary kit was all black with a silver stripe. Their alternative kit was white with a silver stripe. In the Heineken Cup the players wore an all green kit. Their kit was supplied by Adidas.
The formation of the team was made possible by the co-operation of eight existing rugby clubs Rugby Viadana 54%, Colorno 15%, Gran Parma Rugby 10%, Rugby Parma 10%, Noceto 5%, Reggio Emilia 2%, Modena 2% and Mantova 2%. Gran Parma, Rugby Viadana and Colorno have merged as a result of the formation of Aironi to form GranDucato Rugby Parma. Rugby Parma and Noceto have merged to form Crociati (Crusaders) Rugby Parma. These mergers were essential as the Super 10 (now Top12) division would have attracted far less sponsorship.
After several failed attempts, there was doubt that a deal for Italian entry into the Celtic League would be completed in time for the 2010–11 season, with the Scots delaying support for entry until changes were made to the Celtic League management structure. In February 2010 it was announced that the planned expansion of the Celtic League was to be pust on hold. The reasons were the insistence by existing members that the Italian teams could be ejected after three years. Also the financial demands the league placed on the Italians could not be met. The existing teams said this was to cover the need to have larger squads to cover the extra fixtures and additional travel expenses. Agreement was reached in early March 2010 to allow Italian teams entry to the Celtic League in time for the 2010–11 season. The clubs would also be guaranteed places annually into the Heineken Cup that had previously been awarded to the two top teams in the National Championship of Excellence.
Italy had failed to make an impact in the Six Nations Championship tournament since joining 10 years earlier. This was largely blamed on the fact their best players did not have a competitive enough domestic tournament or were forced to play abroad. The fact that the Six Nations decider in 2009 between Wales and Ireland featured 42 Celtic League players out of 44 in their squads supported this notion. Most Italian players played in France's Top 14. In order to ensure the new teams delivered players for the national side the Federazione Italiana Rugby put incentives in place for the new teams. The successful franchises would receive financial support from the FIR to recruit national team players at the time playing abroad and fresh home-grown talent. Signing one of Italy's top players, most of whom play abroad, would net clubs €50,000, while other lesser players, mostly plying their trade in the Italian Super 10 series (Italy's top flight league at the time), would scoop €30,000 and €20,000 bonuses.
It was proposed initially that Aironi would join along with a new team Praetorians Roma, but Benetton Treviso were nominated instead of Roma. Treviso and Duchi Nord-Ovest could not agree to form one club to represent the Veneto region and lost out in the first round of bidding despite the region being the traditional home of Italian rugby. However Roma failed to satisfy the evaluators of their financial muscle and Treviso were nominated in their stead. This was boosted by Treviso's defeat of USA Perpignan in the Heineken Cup. Roma were to be based at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome, where Six Nations matches had been staged.
2010–11 Debut Season
Aironi had a very difficult debut season. They initially struggled to compete in the Celtic League. Their coach, Franco Bernini, was sacked in November after a run of disappointing losses. They suffered a number of heavy defeats but often when they did lose (particularly at home) they did so by a single score. This is evidenced by the 8 Losing Bonus points received in 22 games. They finally registered their first win against French team Biarritz in December in the Heineken Cup. This was a massive shock as Biarritz had contested the previous year's final. Their first Celtic League win came at home against Connacht on 26 March, which they won 25–13. They finished bottom of the league in 12th.
- Players in bold capped internationally.
- Players with the symbol * are qualified to play for Italy on residency or dual nationality so not counted as a Non-Italian player in squad.
- Players in Italic joined in the winter.
|Team||Pld||W||D||L||PF||PA||PD||TF||TA||Try bonus||Losing bonus||Pts|
|7||Newport Gwent Dragons||22||10||1||11||444||462||−18||47||49||3||4||49|
|Correct as of 7 May 2011|
4 September 2010
|(1 BP) Munster||33 – 17||Aironi|
Referee: Graham Knox
11 September 2010
|(1 BP) Aironi||15 – 22||Ulster|
Stadio Luigi Zaffanella
Referee: Stefano Penne
17 September 2010
|(1 BP) Scarlets||49 – 10||Aironi|
Parc y Scarlets
Referee: John Lacey
25 September 2010
|(1 BP) Ospreys||38 – 6||Aironi|
Referee: Andy Macpherson
2 October 2010
|(1 BP) Aironi||9 – 10||Edinburgh|
23 October 2010
|Newport Gwent Dragons||36 – 5||Aironi|
Referee: Andrew McMenemy
29 October 2010
|Aironi||3 – 20||Cardiff Blues|
Referee: Graham Knox
5 November 2010
|Glasgow Warriors||33 – 8||Aironi|
27 November 2010
|Aironi||17 – 34||Scarlets (1 BP)|
Referee: Andy MacPherson
3 December 2010
|Connacht||P – P||Aironi|
24 December 2010
|Benetton Treviso||15 – 10||Aironi|
Stadio di Monigo
Referee: Carlo Damasco
|Team||P||W||D||L||Tries for||Tries against||Try diff||Points for||Points against||Points diff||TB||LB||Pts|
8 October 2010
|Ulster||30 – 6||Aironi|
|Try: Trimble 21' m
Humphreys 44' m
Danielli 60' c
Pienaar 67' c
Con: Pienaar (0/2)
Pen: Pienaar (2/3) 2', 39'
|Report||Pen: Mercier (2/3) 5', 17'|
16 October 2010
|Aironi||6 – 22||Bath|
|Pen: Mercier (2/2) 21', 54'
||Report||Try: Biggs 12' m|
Carraro 23' m
Abendanon 36' c
Watson 67' m
Con: Barkley (1/4)
11 December 2010
|Aironi||28 - 27||Biarritz Olympique|
|Try: Marshall 38' m
Toniolatti 48' c
Pratichetti 63' c
Con: Tebaldi (2/3)
Pen: Tebaldi (2) 3', 31'
Drop: J. Laharrague 78'
|Report||Try: Terrain 7' m|
Ngwenya 16' c
Balshaw 42' m
Gimenez 58' c
Con: Yachvili (2/4)
Pen: Yachvili 73'
17 December 2010
|Biarritz Olympique||34 - 3||Aironi|
|Try: Bosch 10' c
Penalty try 22' c
Ngwenya 46' c
August 56' c
Con: Yachvili (4/4)
Pen: Yachvili (2/2) 2', 16'
|Report||Pen: Bocchino (1/2) 60'|
Parc des Sports Aguiléra
Referee: Andrew Small (England)
15 January 2011
|Bath||55 – 16||Aironi|
|Try: Biggs (2) 9' m, 27' c
Watson (2) 20' c, 77' c
Banahan (4) 29' c, 53' c, 58' c, 70' m
Con: Barkley (6/8)
Pen: Barkley (1/1) 2'
|Report||Try: Sole 36' c|
Con: Marshall (1/1)
Pen: Marshall (3/3) 4', 14', 49'
The Recreation Ground
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
22 January 2011
|Aironi||6 – 43||Ulster|
|Pen: Tebaldi 37'
Drop: Marshall 26'
|Report||Try: Trimble 23' c|
Wannenburg (2) 41' c, 46' c
Penalty try 57' c
Henry 67' c
Danielli 78' m
Con: Humphreys (5/6)
Pen: Humphreys (1/2) 3'
2011–12 Final Season
|Aironi transfers 2011–12|
|PR||Ulyses Gamboa (released - joined Edinburgh)|
|HK||Luigi Ferraro (joined Rugby Calvisano)|| Carlo Festuccia (from Racing-Métro)|
Tommaso D'Apice (from Roma)
|LK||Vickus Liebenberg (joined Aix-en-Provence)|
|FL|| Aldo Birchall (joined Rugby Calvisano)
Gareth Krause (retired - but then joined Border Bulldogs in 2012)
| Frans Viljoen (from Cheetahs)|
Filippo Ferrarini (from Crociati)
|N8||Jaco Erasmus (joined Rugby Calvisano)|
|SH|| Pablo Canavosio (joined Rugby Calvisano)
Mickey Wilson (released - joined Rovigo)
|Tyson Keats (from Hurricanes)|
|FH|| Riccardo Bocchino (released - joined Cavalieri Prato)
James Marshall (released - joined Tasman)
| Luciano Orquera (from Brive)|
Naas Oliver (from Cheetahs)
|CE|| Dylan des Fountain (joined Lions)
Horacio San Martin (released - Périgueux)
|Andrea Masi (from Racing-Métro)|
|WG|| Danwel Demas (joined Boland)
Julien Laharrague (released - joined Lourdes)
Giulio Rubini (released - joined Crociati)
|Sinoti Sinoti (from Hawkes Bay)|
|FB||Ruggero Trevisan (from Crociati Parma Rugby FC)|
Aironi again struggled in the Pro12 league and finished last. However they did record four victories, including a notable home win over defending champions Munster and eventual Heineken Cup Semi-finalists Edinburgh. In a very tough Heineken Cup group they failed to record any win, or even a losing bonus point. In March Aironi announced they were in financial difficulty. The FIR decided to withdraw their licence for the upcoming season, the death knell for Aironi.
Viadana, the primary club behind Aironi applied to take the vacant place in the Pro12 but this was rejected by the FIR. In June 2012 it was announced that the new franchise would be known as Zebre, which would be based in Parma and be built around Italian players.
|Club||Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Points For||Points Against||Points Difference||Tries For||Tries Against||Try Bonus||Losing Bonus||Points|
|4||Glasgow Warriors (SF)||22||13||4||5||445||321||+124||34||23||2||3||65|
|9||Newport Gwent Dragons||22||7||1||14||370||474||−104||27||41||1||5||36|
If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
|Green background (rows 1 to 4) are play-off places. Qualification for the Heineken Cup is based on each country's allocation, i.e. three highest-ranked Irish teams, three highest-ranked Welsh teams, both Italian teams and both Scottish teams. Because Leinster won the 2012 Heineken Cup Final, Ireland earned an extra Heineken Cup place, which will go to Connacht. Aironi were denied a licence for the 2012–13 season due to financial issues; the newly established Zebre side replaced Aironi in the Pro12 and Heineken Cup.
Updated 5 May 2012. Source: RaboDirect PRO12
Squad 2011–12 - Final Season
**World Cup Cover
Players Out 2012–2013
- Alberto de Marchi to Benetton Treviso
- Giulio Toniolatti to Benetton Treviso
- Carlo Del Fava to Newcastle
- Lorenzo Romano to Saracens
- Fabio Staibano to Wasps
- George Biagi to Bristol
- Joshua Furno to Narbonne
- Nick Williams to Ulster
- Frans Viljoen to Free State Cheetahs
- Matías Agüero to Zebre
- Andrea de Marchi to Zebre
- Salvatore Perugini to Zebre
- Tommaso D'Apice to Gloucester
- Antonio Denti to Zebre
- Marco Bortolami to Zebre
- Quintin Geldenhuys to Zebre
- Nicola Cattina to Zebre
- Filippo Ferrarini to Zebre
- Tito Tebaldi to Zebre
- Luciano Orquera to Zebre
- Gilberto Pavan to Zebre
- Matteo Pratichetti to Zebre
- Roberto Quartaroli to Zebre
- Giovanbattista Venditti to Zebre
- Alberto Benettin to Zebre
- Paolo Buso to Zebre
- Ruggero Trevisan to Zebre
- Naas Olivier to Pumas
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