National Championship of Excellence
|Number of teams||10|
The National Championship of Excellence is the highest tier of the national rugby union competition in Italy The first Italian championship took place in 1929, contested by six of the sixteen teams that existed in Italy at that time.
The competition runs from September to May. After a home-and-away season, the top four teams play a knock-out competition to decide the championship and the bottom team is relegated. The season-ending play-offs have one feature which distinguish them from rugby play-offs in most other countries; the semi-finals are two-legged, with the winner determined by aggregate score.
Until season 2008–09 the Super 10 was operated by the L.I.R.E. (Lega Italiana Rugby d'Eccellenza, Italian Elite Rugby (Union) League), but since its folding (in 2009), the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) has taken over its organisation.
The leading Super 10 teams qualify to play against teams from the other leading rugby union nations in Europe in the European Challenge Cup. Aironi and Benetton Treviso began competing in the league now known as Pro14 in the 2010–11 season, and took both Italian places in the Heineken Cup. Due to financial problems, the FIR revoked Aironi's professional licence after the 2011–12 season; that team was replaced in Pro12 by the FIR-operated Zebre. From 2014–15, one of the two Italian Pro12 sides will compete in the Heineken Cup's replacement, the European Rugby Champions Cup; the other will play in the newly launched European Rugby Challenge Cup. Both Pro12 teams are intended to concentrate the best domestic talent and help develop the quality of Italian players and therefore improve the talent pool for the national team.
|Names of the Italian National Rugby Championship|
|Eccellenza||1960–61 until 1964–65; 2010–11 to present|
|Super 10||2001–02 until 2009-10|
|Serie A1||1986–87 until 2000–01|
|Serie A||1928–29 until 1959–60; 1965–66 until 1985–86|
Originally named Serie A since its origin in 1928–29 until 1959–60 season, the name of the national championship was changed to Eccellenza from 1960–61 until 1964–65, then Serie A again until 1985–86. In 1986–87 it was named Serie A1 and the second tier took the name as Serie A2. Since the season 1987–88 the Championship has gone into a play-off phase after a regular season, and the title is assigned through a final (several venues have hosted the final match, notably Padua, Bologna and Rome). After a major restructuring for the 2001–02 season, the national championship was named Super 10 and Serie A1 and A2 became the second and third divisions respectively. The name of championship was changed to Eccellenza once again for the 2010-11 season.
Rugby Calvisano were forced to pull out of the competition for the 2009–10 season due to financial difficulties, setting up an amateur side in the Serie A. Roman clubs Capitolina and Futura Park Roma decided to combine and have also taken Calvisano's place in Europe due to their league position. These two clubs would also be the basis of the proposed new Magners League side, Praetorians Roma. L'Aquila and Prato were promoted from Serie A taking Calvisano's place and the spare Roman club's place.
The withdrawal of Viadana and Benetton Treviso from the league has been compounded by club mergers. Rugby Viadana, Gran Parma and Colorno have merged to form GranDucato Rugby. Overmach Parma and Noceto have merged to form Crociati, both new clubs to be based in Parma. These changes created two vacancies in the Super 10. Additionally Colorno and Noceto created vacancies in the second tier of Italian rugby as these five Parma area sides would only now field two professional senior teams between them. All five clubs are shareholders in Aironi. For the 2011–12 season, Calvisano, Reggio and San Gregorio Catania were all promoted. They took the places of Gran Parma, Roma Olimpic and Venezia Mestre
|2017-2018 Campionato Nazionale Eccellenza|
|Amatori San Donà||1959||San Donà di Piave, Veneto||Stadio Romolo Pacifici||1,500|
|Calvisano||1970||Calvisano, Lombardia||Stadio San Michele||5,000||6 (2017)|
|Fiamme Oro||1956||Rome, Lazio||C.S. Polizia di Stato||1,300||5 (1968)|
|Rugby Lazio||1927||Rome, Lazio||C.S. Acquacetosa Roma||3,066|
|I Medicei||2015||Firenze, Toscana||Stadio Mario Lodigiani||2,000|
|Mogliano||1956||Mogliano, Veneto||Stadio Maurizio Quaggia||2,300||1 (2013)|
|Petrarca Padova||1947||Padova, Veneto||Stadio Plebiscito||12,215||12 (2011)|
|Rovigo Delta||1935||Rovigo, Veneto||Stadio Mario Battaglini||6,000||12 (2016)|
|Rugby Reggio||1970||Reggio Emilia, Emilia Romagna||Stadio Mirabello||4,500|
|Viadana||1970||Viadana, Lombardia||Stadio Luigi Zaffanella||6,000||1 (2002)|
- *capacity for Rugby Union games may differ from official stadium capacity
The leading title holder is Amatori Milano who have won eighteen titles (the first one in 1929, the most recent in 1996); Benetton Treviso follow with fifteen (first in 1956 as Rugby Treviso); Rovigo (first title in 1951) and Petrarca (rugby union club from Padua that won their first title in 1970) won twelve titles each. Apart from the aforementioned teams no one has won more than five titles. The team that wins the Championship wears the Scudetto on their jerseys the following season, The clubs that hold at least ten titles win the right to wear a golden star on their jerseys.
Parma with (Crociati and GranDucato Rugby) is the only city to have two teams. The majority of the league teams are from either Veneto or Lombardy in the north of Italy. Treviso, Viadana and Calvisano have dominated the championship in recent years but none now play in the top division.
Italian rugby union is evolving; the clubs are better equipped, better organised and have improved their players training. There is an increase in sponsorship money and an influx of foreign players (some of whom have gone on to represent Italy after qualifying under the three year rule). In 2005 the FIR introduced a rule requiring teams to field at least twelve Italians in their twenty-two match squad. This was an effort to counter the top Italian players often playing in France, which means that the Italian league is not of a high enough standard to improve the national team.
Despite rising playing standards and more media attention on rugby union, Italian teams competing in the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup have generally struggled to compete against the established club teams of the other Six Nations countries. In response both John Kirwan, the former Italian coach, and David Pickering, the Welsh Rugby Union chairman, suggested that merged Italian teams should enter the Celtic League, now known as Pro14, and in March 2009 the Celtic Rugby Board (Magners League) and FIR announced an agreement in principle to add two Italian teams to the Celtic League for 2010–11. The two teams were intended to offer Italian qualified players a higher standard of rugby to hone their skills. It removed the best Italian players from the top tier league, and it was envisaged that the Super 10 would be a semi-professional league.
On 18 July 2009 it was announced that the two Magners League teams would be the newly formed Aironi, based in Viadana, and Praetorians Roma, from the capital. As of October 2009, there was a change and it was announced the two teams will be Aironi and Benetton Treviso. Praetorians Roma were nominated in the first round but failed to meet the criteria set down by the evaluators and Benetton Treviso took their place. These new sides will also played in the Heineken Cup and Italy retained its four places in the Challenge Cup, which were taken by top Super 10 teams.
After the 2011–12 season, the first for the league under the Pro12 name, the FIR revoked the licence of Aironi due to financial problems. That team was replaced in Pro12 by a new FIR-operated side, Zebre.
Beginning in the 2014–15 season, the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup will be replaced by a new three-tiered European competition structure. The Heineken Cup will be replaced by the European Rugby Champions Cup; the European Challenge Cup will be replaced by the European Rugby Challenge Cup; and a new third-tier Qualifying Competition will be added. The highest-placed Italian Pro12 side automatically qualifies for the Champions Cup; the other Pro12 side will compete in the new Challenge Cup unless it qualifies for the Champions Cup by being one of the three highest-placed teams apart from the top team of each Pro12 country (Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Wales). Select sides from the Super 10 will play in the Qualifying Competition, to be held before the main season. Along with club sides from second-tier European rugby nations, the Super 10 sides will compete for two places in the new Challenge Cup.
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Currently the Italian Senior leagues are structured in the following way:-
- Italian Elite Championship (Campionato Nazionale Eccellenza) made up of 10 teams; the first four go into the playoff stage and the winner is Italian Champion; the last classified is relegated in Serie A division 1.
- Serie A: apparently Serie A is a unique-level tier, but is actually a two-ranks Division:
- Serie A pool 1: 12 teams that play each other home and away. The first three go into a playoff stage with the first one of pool 2 to win a place for the next Super 10; the last two go into a playout stage with the 9th and 10th of the pool 2; the loser go to Serie B, the winner are reassigned to pool 1, the midst two to pool 2.
- Serie A pool 2: same number of teams and structure as pool 1. The winner is promoted at least to pool 1, plus goes into the abovementioned playoff stage and has the possibility to be promoted in Super 10; the 12th goes straight in Serie B
- Serie B: divided in 4 same-rank pools of 12 teams each who play each other home and away; a playoff stage determines the 2 teams that are promoted to Serie A division 2
- Serie C: is the very 5th tier of Italian rugby union; is divided into regional divisions
The junior league is structured in the following way:
- Under 19 Championship: 3 divisions of 10 teams who play each other home and away
- 1929 Ambrosiana
- 1930 Amatori Milano
- 1931 Amatori Milano
- 1932 Amatori Milano
- 1933 Amatori Milano
- 1934 Amatori Milano
- 1935 Rugby Roma
- 1936 Amatori Milano
- 1937 Rugby Roma
- 1938 Amatori Milano
- 1939 Amatori Milano
- 1940 Amatori Milano
- 1941 Amatori Milano
- 1942 Amatori Milano
- 1943 Amatori Milano
- 1946 Amatori Milano
- 1947 Ginnastica Torino
- 1948 Rugby Roma
- 1949 Rugby Roma
- 1950 Parma
- 1951 Rovigo
- 1952 Rovigo
- 1953 Rovigo
- 1954 Rovigo
- 1955 Parma
- 1956 Faema Treviso
- 1957 Parma
- 1958 Fiamme Oro Padova
- 1959 Fiamme Oro Padova
- 1960 Fiamme Oro Padova
- 1961 Fiamme Oro Padova
- 1962 Rovigo
- 1963 Rovigo
- 1964 Rovigo
- 1965 Partenope Naples
- 1966 Partenope Naples
- 1967 L'Aquila
- 1968 Fiamme Oro Padova
- 1969 L'Aquila
- 1970 Petrarca Padova
- 1971 Petrarca
- 1972 Petrarca
- 1973 Petrarca
- 1974 Petrarca
- 1975 Concordia Brescia
- 1976 Rovigo
- 1977 Petrarca
- 1978 Benetton Treviso
- 1979 Rovigo
- 1980 Petrarca
- 1981 L'Aquila
- 1982 L'Aquila
- 1983 Benetton Treviso
- 1984 Petrarca
- 1985 Petrarca
- 1986 Petrarca
- 1987 Petrarca
- 1988 Rovigo
- 1989 Benetton Treviso
- 1990 Rovigo
- 1991 Amatori Milano
- 1992 Benetton Treviso
- 1993 Amatori Milano
- 1994 L'Aquila
- 1995 Amatori Milano
- 1996 Amatori Milano
- 1997 Benetton Treviso
- 1998 Benetton Treviso
- 1999 Benetton Treviso
- 2000 Rugby Roma
- 2001 Benetton Treviso
- 2002 Arix Viadana
- 2003 Benetton Treviso
- 2004 Benetton Treviso
- 2005 Calvisano
- 2006 Benetton Treviso
- 2007 Benetton Treviso
- 2008 Calvisano
- 2009 Benetton Treviso
- 2010 Benetton Treviso
- 2011 Petrarca
- 2012 Calvisano
- 2013 Mogliano
- 2014 Calvisano
- 2015 Calvisano
- 2016 Rovigo
- 2017 Calvisano
|2001–02||Rugby Viadana||19–12||Rugby Calvisano|
|2002–03||Benetton Treviso||34–12||Rugby Calvisano|
|2003–04||Benetton Treviso||22–10||Rugby Calvisano|
|2004–05||Rugby Calvisano||25–20||Benetton Treviso|
|2005–06||Benetton Treviso||17–12||Rugby Calvisano|
|2006–07||Benetton Treviso||28–24 (a.e.t)||Rugby Viadana|
|2007–08||Rugby Calvisano||20–3||Benetton Treviso|
|2008–09||Benetton Treviso||29–20||Rugby Viadana|
|2009–10||Benetton Treviso||16–12||Rugby Viadana|
|2010–11||Petrarca Padova||18–14||Rovigo Delta|
|2011–12||Calvisano||43–36 (agr)||Cavalieri Prato|
Performance by club
Club Winners Winning Years Amatori Rugby Milano (Ambrosiana Milano)* 18 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1946, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996 Benetton Treviso 15 1956, 1978, 1983, 1989, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 Rugby Rovigo 12 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1976, 1979, 1988, 1990, 2016 Petrarca 12 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 2011 Calvisano 6 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017 Rugby Roma* 5 1935, 1937, 1948, 1949, 2000 Fiamme Oro Rugby 5 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1968 L'Aquila Rugby 5 1967, 1969, 1981, 1982, 1994 Parma Rugby 3 1950, 1955, 1957 Partenope 2 1965, 1966 Viadana 1 2002 Concordia Brescia Rugby 1 1975 Ginnastica Torino 1 1947 Mogliano 1 2013
- * Amatori Rugby Milano and Rugby Roma were disbanded in 2011.
- Rugby union in Italy
- Italy national rugby union team
- European Rugby Champions Cup
- European Rugby Challenge Cup
- Heineken Cup
- European Challenge Cup
- European Shield
- "Structure National Championships 2010/2011 football season". FIR (in Italian). 2010-04-10.
- Overview: Italy's Super 10
- "Super X - Ready for merging in Parma, Venezia to score reprieve". blogosfere (in Italian). 2010-06-03.
- "Yes to Futura Park, Venezia saved". yahoo (in Italian). 2010-07-17.
- Top-level Italian exports threaten to damage domestic product
- Pickering: We have to improve league
- "Celtic door opens up for Italy". Scrum.com. 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2009-03-26.