|Union||Italian Rugby Federation|
|Nickname(s)||The XV of the North-West|
1973 (as Invitational Team – disbanded in 1997)2012 (as Professional Team)
|Ground(s)||Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma (Capacity: 5,000)|
|President||Pier Luigi Bernabò|
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. They are based in Parma (Emilia-Romagna), Italy. They are operated by the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) and replaced Aironi in the Pro12.
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.
- 1 History
- 2 Current standings
- 3 The team
- 4 Current squad
- 5 Selected former players
- 6 Season records
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
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. 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 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.
After initial applications in 2010, it was proposed that Aironi would join along with a new team, Praetorians Roma, 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. However, Pretorians Roma failed to satisfy the evaluators of their financial muscle and Benetton Treviso were nominated in their place.
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. 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. In June 2012, it was announced that the new franchise would be known as Zebre and based in Parma.
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, 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.
|Team||P||W||D||L||Points F||Points A||Points +/-||Tries F||Tries A||Try bonus||Losing bonus||Pts|
|11||Newport Gwent Dragons||22||4||0||18||368||569||−201||38||71||1||6||23|
|If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
Green background (rows 1 to 4) are play-off places and earn a place in the 2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup.
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.
Stadium and training
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. They played one match in the 2012–13 Pro12 season at Reggio Emilia's Stadio Città del Tricolore, against Leinster.
Staff and coaching team
- Director of Rugby – Gianluca Guidi
- Assistant Coaches – Roland De Marigny, Victor Jimenez, Fabio Roselli
- Team Manager – Andrea de Rossi
- Fitness coach – Silvano Garbini, Matteo Arbelti, Ada Lombardi
- Video analyst – Niccolò Gaetaniello
Zebre is mostly based on Italian players, rather than foreigners. 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.
2017-18 Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
- 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.
Selected former players
Former players who have played for Zebre and have caps for their respective country
- Bruno Postiglioni
- Guillermo Roan
- Luke Burgess
- Kameli Ratuvou
- Matías Agüero
- Alberto Benettin
- Mauro Bergamasco
- Mirco Bergamasco
- Marco Bortolami
- Paolo Buso
- Pietro Ceccarelli
- Alberto Chillon
- Paul Derbyshire
- Carlo Festuccia
- Joshua Furno
- Quintin Geldenhuys
- Gonzalo Garcia
- Davide Giazzon
- Kelly Haimona
- Tommaso Iannone
- Luciano Orquera
- Roberto Quartaroli
- Samuele Pace
- Salvatore Perugini
- Lorenzo Romano
- Federico Ruzza
- Leonardo Sarto
- Josh Sole
- Tito Tebaldi
- Giulio Toniolatti
- Michele Visentin
- Samuela Vunisa
- Andrei Mahu
- Brendon Leonard
- Mils Muliaina
- Sinoti Sinoti
Celtic League / Pro12
Heineken Cup / Rugby Champions Cup
European Rugby Challenge Cup
- "Zebras to take over from Aironi - The Irish Times - Thu, Jun 07, 2012". The Irish Times. 2012-06-07. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
- "Italian side Aironi to pull out of Pro12 after their licence is revoked". BBC Sport. 2012-04-06.
- "Italy announces new club". Ercrugby.com. 2012-06-07. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
- "Zebre will replace Aironi for Italy - RTÉ Sport". Rte.ie. 2012-06-07. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-08-20. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
- "London Wasps sign Italy back Andrea Masi from Aironi". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
- "Peter Bills: Italian fury at 'insult' after Magners League snub". Independent.ie. Retrieved 2011-11-11.
- "RTÉ Sport: Italian teams to join Magners League". Rte.ie. 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2011-11-11.
- Roberts, Gareth (2009-03-21). "Wales 15-17 Ireland". BBC News. Retrieved 2011-11-11.
- "Aironi and Praetorians set for Magners League | Live Rugby News | ESPN Scrum". Scrum.com. Retrieved 2011-11-11.
- "International Rugby Union | Italy Rugby Union News". Planet Rugby. 2009-07-21. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-11-11.
- "Italians' bid to join the League not a done deal". The Irish Times. 2009-11-11. Retrieved 2011-11-11.
- "Italian side Aironi to pull out of Pro12 after their licence is revoked". Bbc.co.uk. 2012-04-06. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
- "Tournaments | Magners League | Aironi | Viadana's Pro12 bid rejected". Planet Rugby. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
- "Rugby Union News | New PRO12 team to be called Zebras". Planet Rugby. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
- Competition Rule 3.5 "Summary of Key Rules". Pro12. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- "Champions Cup Qualification". EPC Rugby. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
- "Zebre 22 - 41 Leinster Rugby". Pro12. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
- "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.
- "Zebre Rugby i giocatori della rosa 2015/2016". Zebre (in Italian). Retrieved 28 August 2016.