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Zebre logo.png
Union Italian Rugby Federation
Nickname(s) The XV of the North-West

1973 (as Invitational Team – disbanded in 1997)

2012; 5 years ago (2012) (as Professional Team)
Location Parma, Italy
Ground(s) Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma (Capacity: 5,000)
President Pier Luigi Bernabò
Coach(es) Gianluca Guidi
Captain(s) George Biagi
League(s) Pro12
2016–17 12th
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

Zebre (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdzɛbre], meaning "Zebras"), are an Italian professional rugby union team competing in the Guinness Pro12 and the Heineken Cup from the 2012–13 season.[1] They are based in Parma (Emilia-Romagna), Italy. They are operated by the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) and replaced Aironi in the Pro12.[2][3][4][5][6]

Zebre, often referred to as "the XV of the North-West" (Italian: il XV del Nord-Ovest), represents the four committees of Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Lombardy and Piedmont, and Northern Tuscany, which includes tens of thousands of members and several clubs.[7]


The entry of Italian teams into the Celtic League had been proposed for many years. After several failed attempts, there was hope that a deal for Italian entry would be done 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 put on hold. The reasons were the insistence by existing members that the Italian teams could be ejected after three years. Also, the financial demands that 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.[8] Agreement was reached in early March 2010 to allow Italian teams entry to the Celtic League in time for the 2010–11 season.[9] The clubs will also be guaranteed places in the annual Heineken Cup, which had previously been awarded to the two top teams in the National Championship of Excellence.

Italy have failed to make an impact in the Six Nations Championship since joining in 2000. This has largely been blamed on the fact their best players do not have a competitive enough domestic tournament or are 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.[10]

After initial applications in 2010, it was proposed that Aironi would join along with a new team, Praetorians Roma,[11] but Benetton Rugby Treviso were nominated instead. Benetton 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.[12] However, Pretorians Roma failed to satisfy the evaluators of their financial muscle and Benetton Treviso were nominated in their place.[13]

Aironi struggled in their first season; a surprise European Cup win over Biarritz was the only highlight of a campaign in which they managed only one Pro12 victory. At the end of a second season of struggle on the pitch, Aironi succumbed to financial difficulties off it. Their licence to play both in the European Cup and Pro12 was revoked by the Italian Rugby Federation.[14] The Federation decided against another domestic Italian club taking over the running of the licence, instead opting to maintain complete control of a planned new franchise.[15] In June 2012, it was announced that the new franchise would be known as Zebre and based in Parma.[16]

Zebre did not enjoy much success in their first season, 2012–13, finishing bottom after winless campaigns in both the Pro12 and the Heineken Cup. Although they finished the subsequent 2013-14 season bottom once again, their performance was much improved, seeing their first victory against Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park into Round 3 of Pro12,[17] in a season in which they had five league victories, with their away win in Cardiff followed by home victories against the Ospreys, Edinburgh, Cardiff Blues and Italian Rivals Treviso, who finished the season a single point ahead of Zebre. They fared somewhat worse in 2014-15, managing only 3 victories and finishing bottom of the table for the third season running. In the 2015-16 seasons they again earned five victories including back to back victories against Treviso and a bonus-point victory against the Newport Gwent Dragons. Zebre avoided finishing in last place for the first time.

Current standings[edit]

2016–17 Pro12 watch · edit · discuss
Team P W D L Points F Points A Points +/- Tries F Tries A Try bonus Losing bonus Pts
1 Ireland Munster (Q) 22 19 0 3 602 316 +286 77 34 9 1 86
2 Ireland Leinster (SF) 22 18 0 4 674 390 +284 91 47 12 1 85
3 Wales Scarlets (Q) 22 17 0 5 537 359 +178 66 40 9 0 77
4 Wales Ospreys (SF) 22 14 0 8 556 360 +196 74 42 10 3 69
5 Ireland Ulster 22 14 1 7 521 371 +150 68 47 6 4 68
6 Scotland Glasgow Warriors 22 11 0 11 540 464 +76 72 53 9 5 58
7 Wales Cardiff Blues 22 11 1 10 508 498 +10 59 60 3 4 53
8 Ireland Connacht 22 9 0 13 413 498 −85 47 61 5 3 44
9 Scotland Edinburgh 22 6 0 16 400 491 −91 46 59 1 6 31
10 Italy Benetton Treviso 22 5 0 17 316 664 −348 35 92 1 2 23
11 Wales Newport Gwent Dragons 22 4 0 18 368 569 −201 38 71 1 6 23
12 Italy Zebre 22 3 0 19 318 773 −455 38 105 1 6 19
If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:[18]
  1. number of matches won;
  2. the difference between points for and points against;
  3. the number of tries scored;
  4. the most points scored;
  5. the difference between tries for and tries against;
  6. the fewest number of red cards received;
  7. the fewest number of yellow cards received.

Green background (rows 1 to 4) are play-off places and earn a place in the 2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup.
Blue background indicates teams outside the play-off places that earn a place in the European Rugby Champions Cup.
Yellow background advances to a play-off for a chance to compete in the Champions Cup.[19]
(Q) indicates team has qualified for the play-offs and has qualified for the 2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup.

The team[edit]

Name history[edit]

Founded in 1973 by the former Italian national captain Marco Bollesan, Zebre (English: Zebras) was chosen, in 2012, by the Italian Rugby Federation as the new franchise's name. The name had been used by an invitational select rugby union team based in Northwest Italy that played regular fixtures between 1973 and 1997. In those 23 years, 25 matches were held against international clubs; and resulted in a high number of victories for Zebre. The opening match was an unofficial test played in Milan in 1973 against the Australian team of Randwick Sydney, who won 21–50. Zebre had a memorable 48–38 victory against the Barbarians in Brescia in June 1997.[20]

Two other former select teams are I Dogi (The Doges) based in Triveneto and I Lupi (The Wolves) based in Central and Southern Italy.[21]

Stadium and training[edit]

The team play in Parma at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, the home ground of Crociati Parma and the F.I.R. Academy. Initially, the ground is being refurbished and expanded. Zebre usually hold their summer training camp at Parma University.[22] They played one match in the 2012–13 Pro12 season at Reggio Emilia's Stadio Città del Tricolore, against Leinster.[23]

Staff and coaching team[edit]


Zebre is mostly based on Italian players, rather than foreigners.[24] In 2012, of the initial list of 36 contracted players, only three were ineligible to play for Italy. Nineteen former Aironi players were included in the original squad. An emphasis on youth development was also visible, with a significant portion of the squad being made up of members of the Italian Rugby Federation Academy.[22]

Current squad[edit]

2017-18 Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Tommaso D'Apice Hooker Italy Italy
Oliviero Fabiani Hooker Italy Italy
Andrea Manici Hooker Italy Italy
Dario Chistolini Prop Italy Italy
Andrea De Marchi Prop Italy Italy
Bart le Roux Prop South Africa South Africa
Andrea Lovotti Prop Italy Italy
George Biagi Lock Italy Italy
Gideon Koegelenberg Lock South Africa South Africa
Valerio Bernabò Flanker Italy Italy
Maxime Mbanda Flanker Italy Italy
Johan Meyer Flanker South Africa South Africa
Derick Minnie Flanker South Africa South Africa
Jacopo Sarto Flanker Italy Italy
Dries van Schalkwyk Number 8 Italy Italy
Player Position Union
Guglielmo Palazzani Scrum-half Italy Italy
Marcello Violi Scrum-half Italy Italy
Serafin Bordoli Fly-half Argentina Argentina
Carlo Canna Fly-half Italy Italy
Edoardo Padovani Fly-half Italy Italy
Failaga Afamasaga Centre Samoa Samoa
Giulio Bisegni Centre Italy Italy
Tommaso Boni Centre Italy Italy
Tommaso Castello Centre Italy Italy
Matteo Pratichetti Centre Italy Italy
Mattia Bellini Wing Italy Italy
Gabriele Di Giulio Wing Italy Italy
Giovanbattista Venditti Wing Italy Italy
Kurt Baker Fullback New Zealand New Zealand
  • Players in bold capped internationally.
  • Players qualified to play for Italy on residency or dual nationality. *
  • Players and their allocated positions from the Zebre Rugby Website.[25]

Selected former players[edit]

Former players who have played for Zebre and have caps for their respective country

Season records[edit]

Celtic League / Pro12[edit]

Season Pos Played Won Drawn Lost Bonus Points Matches
2012–13 12th 22 0 0 22 10 10 [1]
2013–14 12th 22 5 2 15 5 29 [2]
2014–15 12th 22 3 0 19 3 15 [3]
2015–16 11th 22 5 0 17 4 24 []

Heineken Cup / Rugby Champions Cup[edit]

Season Pool/Round Pos Played Won Drawn Lost Bonus Points Matches
2012–13 Pool 3 4th 6 0 0 6 1 1 [4]
2013–14 Pool 3 4th 6 0 0 6 0 0 [5]

European Rugby Challenge Cup[edit]

Season Pool/Round Pos Played Won Drawn Lost Bonus Points Matches
2014–15 Pool 5 3rd 6 2 0 4 0 8 [6]
2015–16 Pool 4 2nd 6 3 0 3 1 13 []

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Zebras to take over from Aironi - The Irish Times - Thu, Jun 07, 2012". The Irish Times. 2012-06-07. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  2. ^ "Italian side Aironi to pull out of Pro12 after their licence is revoked". BBC Sport. 2012-04-06. 
  3. ^ "Italy announces new club". Ercrugby.com. 2012-06-07. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  4. ^ "Zebre will replace Aironi for Italy - RTÉ Sport". Rte.ie. 2012-06-07. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-08-20. Retrieved 2012-06-07. 
  6. ^ "London Wasps sign Italy back Andrea Masi from Aironi". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  7. ^ http://www.zebrerugby.eu/io-ci-sono-nasce-la-comunita-della-franchigia-delle-zebre-rugby/
  8. ^ "Peter Bills: Italian fury at 'insult' after Magners League snub". Independent.ie. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  9. ^ "RTÉ Sport: Italian teams to join Magners League". Rte.ie. 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  10. ^ Roberts, Gareth (2009-03-21). "Wales 15-17 Ireland". BBC News. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  11. ^ "Aironi and Praetorians set for Magners League | Live Rugby News | ESPN Scrum". Scrum.com. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  12. ^ "International Rugby Union | Italy Rugby Union News". Planet Rugby. 2009-07-21. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  13. ^ "Italians' bid to join the League not a done deal". The Irish Times. 2009-11-11. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  14. ^ "Italian side Aironi to pull out of Pro12 after their licence is revoked". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-04-06. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  15. ^ "Tournaments | Magners League | Aironi | Viadana's Pro12 bid rejected". Planet Rugby. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  16. ^ "Rugby Union News | New PRO12 team to be called Zebras". Planet Rugby. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  17. ^ http://www.rabodirectpro12.com/matchcentre/12879.php
  18. ^ Competition Rule 3.5 "Summary of Key Rules". Pro12. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  19. ^ "Champions Cup Qualification". EPC Rugby. Retrieved 1 April 2017. 
  20. ^ http://archiviostorico.gazzetta.it/1997/giugno/15/Zebre_battono_Barbarians_ga_0_9706154773.shtml
  21. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=mYBtMajLAaAC&pg=RA1-PA424&lpg=RA1-PA424&dq=dogi+rugby+history&source=bl&ots=MawCgSfDaF&sig=uPtpwyMO1iKdc-3t8-TcfJMNaio&hl=it&sa=X&ei=ZXuoU92jJan9ywOKkoKIBg&ved=0CEgQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=dogi%20rugby%20history&f=false
  22. ^ a b http://www.ercrugby.com/eng/news/18452.php
  23. ^ "Zebre 22 - 41 Leinster Rugby". Pro12. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  24. ^ "Tournaments | Magners League | Aironi | French coach for new Italian Pro12 team". Planet Rugby. Archived from the original on 2013-11-09. Retrieved 2012-11-02. 
  25. ^ "Zebre Rugby i giocatori della rosa 2015/2016". Zebre (in Italian). Retrieved 28 August 2016. 

External links[edit]