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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.[3] They were replaced by Zebre from the 2012-13 season.[4]

Aironi
Aironi rugby logo.PNG
Founded2010
LocationLombardy & Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Ground(s)Stadio Luigi Zaffanella, Viadana (Capacity: 6,000)
Coach(es)
Rowland Phillips (Head Coach)[1]
Andrea Moretti (Forwards)
Antonio Zanichelli (Backs)
Andrew Scotney (Backs)[2]
Captain(s)Quintin Geldenhuys
League(s)Pro12
2011–1212th
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website
www.aironirugby.eu

Home groundEdit

The team played in Viadana at Stadio Luigi Zaffanella. It was expected that Reggio Emilia's Stadio Giglio would be used for larger games but no games required its near 30,000 capacity.

KitEdit

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.[5] Their kit was supplied by Adidas.[6]

Member clubsEdit

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%.[7] Gran Parma, Rugby Viadana and Colorno have merged as a result of the formation of Aironi to form GranDucato Rugby Parma.[8] Rugby Parma and Noceto have merged to form Crociati (Crusaders) Rugby Parma.[9][10] These mergers were essential as the Super 10 (now Top12) division would have attracted far less sponsorship.

HistoryEdit

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.[11] Agreement was reached in early March 2010 to allow Italian teams entry to the Celtic League in time for the 2010–11 season.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

It was proposed initially that Aironi would join along with a new team Praetorians Roma,[15] 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.[16] However Roma failed to satisfy the evaluators of their financial muscle and Treviso were nominated in their stead.[17] 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 SeasonEdit

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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20] Their first Celtic League win came at home against Connacht on 26 March, which they won 25–13.[21] They finished bottom of the league in 12th.

SquadEdit

  • 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.
  • Notes:
    • Players in Italic joined in the winter.

Magners LeagueEdit

Team Pld W D L PF PA PD TF TA Try bonus Losing bonus Pts
1   Munster 22 19 0 3 496 327 +169 44 22 5 2 83
2   Leinster 22 15 1 6 495 336 +159 50 25 5 3 70
3   Ulster 22 15 1 6 480 418 +62 44 35 3 2 67
4   Ospreys 22 12 1 9 553 418 +135 56 29 6 7 63
5   Scarlets 22 12 1 9 503 453 +50 49 43 5 7 62
6   Cardiff Blues 22 13 1 8 479 392 +87 37 33 3 3 60
7   Newport Gwent Dragons 22 10 1 11 444 462 −18 47 49 3 4 49
8   Edinburgh 22 9 0 13 421 460 −39 39 44 2 5 43
9   Connacht 22 7 1 14 394 459 −65 32 44 3 6 39
10   Benetton Treviso 22 9 0 13 374 502 −128 29 58 0 2 38
11   Glasgow Warriors 22 6 1 15 401 543 −142 33 48 1 6 33
12   Aironi 22 1 0 21 247 517 −270 21 52 0 8 12
Correct as of 7 May 2011
4 September 2010
19:30
(1 BP) Munster   33 – 17   Aironi
Report
Musgrave Park
Attendance: 8,426
Referee: Graham Knox
11 September 2010
19:05
(1 BP) Aironi   15 – 22   Ulster
Report
Stadio Luigi Zaffanella
Attendance: 4,453
Referee: Stefano Penne
17 September 2010
20:05
(1 BP) Scarlets   49 – 10   Aironi
Report
Parc y Scarlets
Attendance: 6,123
Referee: John Lacey
25 September 2010
18:30
(1 BP) Ospreys   38 – 6   Aironi
Report
Liberty Stadium
Attendance: 7,289
Referee: Andy Macpherson
2 October 2010
19:05
(1 BP) Aironi   9 – 10   Edinburgh
Report
Stadio Zaffanella
Attendance: 4,053
23 October 2010
18:30
Newport Gwent Dragons   36 – 5   Aironi
Report
Rodney Parade
Attendance: 5,033
Referee: Andrew McMenemy
29 October 2010
19:05
Aironi   3 – 20   Cardiff Blues
Report
Stadio Zaffanella
Attendance: 2,900
Referee: Graham Knox
5 November 2010
19:30
Glasgow Warriors   33 – 8   Aironi
Report
Firhill Stadium
Attendance: 2,078
27 November 2010
19:05
Aironi   17 – 34   Scarlets (1 BP)
Report
Stadio Zaffanella
Attendance: 2,000
Referee: Andy MacPherson
3 December 2010
19:00
Connacht   P – P   Aironi
Sportsground
24 December 2010
14:30
Benetton Treviso   15 – 10   Aironi
Report
Stadio di Monigo
Attendance: 3,500
Referee: Carlo Damasco

2010–11 Heineken Cup pool stage - Pool 4Edit

Team P W D L Tries for Tries against Try diff Points for Points against Points diff TB LB Pts
  Biarritz (4) 6 4 0 2 16 9 +7 140 86 +55 4 2 22
  Ulster (8) 6 5 0 1 15 8 +7 145 93 +52 2 0 22
  Bath 6 2 0 4 20 8 +12 147 108 +39 3 3 14
  Aironi 6 1 0 5 4 30 −26 65 211 −146 0 0 4
8 October 2010
19:30
Ulster   30 – 6   Aironi
Try: Trimble 21' m
Humphreys 44' m
Danielli 60' c
Pienaar 67' c
Con: Pienaar (0/2)
Humphreys (2/2)
Pen: Pienaar (2/3) 2', 39'
Report Pen: Mercier (2/3) 5', 17'
Ravenhill, Belfast
Attendance: 7,777
Referee: Chris White (England)
16 October 2010
14:30
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)
Stadio Luigi Zaffanella, Viadana
Attendance: 4,000
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
11 December 2010
14:30
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'
Stadio Luigi Zaffanella
Attendance: 3,000
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
17 December 2010
19:00
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
Attendance: 6,816
Referee: Andrew Small (England)
15 January 2011
14:30
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
Attendance: 10,000
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
22 January 2011
14:30
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'
Stadio Luigi Zaffanella
Attendance: 3,000
Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)

2011–12 Final SeasonEdit

Aironi transfers 2011–12
Pos Out In
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)
Coach

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[36] and eventual Heineken Cup Semi-finalists Edinburgh.[37][38] 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.[39] 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.[40]

Pro12 Table watch · edit · discuss
Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points For Points Against Points Difference Tries For Tries Against Try Bonus Losing Bonus Points
1   Leinster (F) 22 18 1 3 568 326 +242 48 28 5 2 81
2   Ospreys (C) 22 16 1 5 491 337 +154 44 22 2 3 71
3   Munster (SF) 22 14 1 7 489 367 +122 45 27 5 4 67
4   Glasgow Warriors (SF) 22 13 4 5 445 321 +124 34 23 2 3 65
5   Scarlets 22 12 2 8 446 373 +73 43 30 5 5 62
6   Ulster 22 12 0 10 474 424 +50 53 41 5 3 56
7   Cardiff Blues 22 10 0 12 446 460 −14 43 45 5 5 50
8   Connacht 22 7 1 14 321 433 −112 27 36 0 7 37
9   Newport Gwent Dragons 22 7 1 14 370 474 −104 27 41 1 5 36
10   Benetton Treviso 22 7 0 15 419 558 −139 41 57 3 5 36
11   Edinburgh 22 6 1 15 454 588 −134 42 65 2 4 32
12   Aironi 22 4 0 18 289 551 −262 22 54 1 5 22

If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:[41]

  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 red cards received;
  7. the fewest yellow cards received.
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 SeasonEdit

[42]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
Antonio Denti Hooker   Italy
Davide Giazzon** Hooker   Italy
Fabio Ongaro Hooker   Italy
Roberto Santamaria Hooker   Italy
Matías Agüero Prop   Italy
Alberto de Marchi Prop   Italy
Andrea de Marchi Prop   Italy
Salvatore Perugini Prop   Italy
Luca Redolfini Prop   Italy
Lorenzo Romano Prop   Italy
Fabio Staibano Prop   Italy
George Biagi Lock   Italy
Marco Bortolami Lock   Italy
Filippo Cazzola** Lock   Italy
Carlo Del Fava Lock   Italy
Joshua Furno Lock   Italy
Quintin Geldenhuys (c) Lock   Italy
Andrea Benatti Flanker   Italy
Mauro Bergamasco Flanker   Italy
Nicola Cattina Flanker   Italy
Simone Favaro Flanker   Italy
Filippo Ferrarini Flanker   Italy
Frans Viljoen Flanker   South Africa
Josh Sole Number 8   Italy
Nick Williams Number 8   New Zealand
Player Position Union
Giorgio Bronzini Scrum-half   Italy
Tyson Keats Scrum-half   New Zealand
Tito Tebaldi Scrum-half   Italy
Naas Olivier Fly-half   South Africa
Luciano Orquera Fly-half   Italy
Alberto Benettin Centre   Italy
Gilberto Pavan Centre   Italy
Gabriel Pizarro Centre   Italy
Matteo Pratichetti Centre   Italy
Roberto Quartaroli Centre   Italy
Riccardo Pavan** Wing   Italy
Kaine Robertson Wing   Italy
Sinoti Sinoti Wing   Samoa
Giulio Toniolatti Wing   Italy
Giovanbattista Venditti Wing   Italy
Paolo Buso Fullback   Italy
Andrea Masi Fullback   Italy
Ruggero Trevisan Fullback   Italy

**World Cup Cover

TransfersEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit