Zebre (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdzɛbre], meaning "Zebras"), are an Italian professional rugby union team competing in the Pro14 and EPCR competitions 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.
|Union||Italian Rugby Federation|
|Nickname(s)||The XV of the North-West|
|Founded||1973 (as Invitational Team – disbanded in 1997) |
2012 (as Professional Team)
|Ground(s)||Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma (Capacity: 5,000)|
|2017-18||7th (Conference A)|
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, which includes tens of thousands of members and several clubs. Since 2018, it represents also teams from others committees like Abruzzo, Lazio, Marche, Tuscany and Sicily.
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 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.
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|If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order -
Green background indicates teams that compete in the Pro14 play-offs, and also earn a place in the 2019–20 European 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 trainingEdit
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. In its history, Zebre played also official matches in others different homegrounds:
- In the 2012–13 Pro12 season at Reggio Emilia's Stadio Città del Tricolore, against Leinster;
- In the 2017–18 Pro14 season at Stadio Tommaso Fattori of L'Aquila, Abruzzo, against Dragons;
- In the 2018–19 Pro14 season at Stadio Luigi Zaffanella of Viadana, Lombardy, against Leinster
Staff and coaching teamEdit
- Director of Rugby – Michael Bradley
- Assistant Coaches – Carlo Orlandi, Alessandro Troncon
- Team Manager – Andrea de Rossi
- Fitness coach – Giovanni Biondi, Francesco Della Ceca, Emiliano Crescenzo, Maicol Maccagnani, Matteo Cavalca
- 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.
|Zebre Pro14 squad[b]|
|(c) denotes the team captain, Bold denotes internationally capped players. |
* denotes players qualified to play for Italy on residency or dual nationality.
Players and their allocated positions from the Zebre website.
Selected former playersEdit
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
- Valerio Bernabò
- Marco Bortolami
- Paolo Buso
- Pietro Ceccarelli
- Alberto Chillon
- Dario Chistolini
- Tommaso D'Apice
- Paul Derbyshire
- Andrea De Marchi
- Carlo Festuccia
- Joshua Furno
- Quintin Geldenhuys
- Gonzalo Garcia
- Davide Giazzon
- Kelly Haimona
- Tommaso Iannone
- Andrea Manici
- Matteo Minozzi
- Luciano Orquera
- Roberto Quartaroli
- Samuele Pace
- Sami Panico
- Salvatore Perugini
- Matteo Pratichetti
- Lorenzo Romano
- Federico Ruzza
- Jacopo Sarto
- Leonardo Sarto
- Fabio Semenzato
- Josh Sole
- Tito Tebaldi
- Giulio Toniolatti
- Dries van Schalkwyk
- Michele Visentin
- Samuela Vunisa
- Andrei Mahu
- Brendon Leonard
- Mils Muliaina
- Failaga Afamasaga
- Sinoti Sinoti
European Rugby Challenge CupEdit
Heineken Cup / European Rugby Champions CupEdit
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- "Tournaments | Magners League | Aironi | Viadana's Pro12 bid rejected". Planet Rugby. Archived from the original on 2012-06-04. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
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- Competition Rule 3.5 "Summary of Key Rules". Pro14. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
- "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.
- "Archivi La Squadra". Zebre Rugby Club. Retrieved 31 July 2018.