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The future of Italian Rugby

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The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 13:05

There has been much discussion inside Italian rugby about the future of Italy's PRO12 teams. Last month FIR president Alfredo Gavazzi suggested a third PRO12 team as part of the solution. This week his opositor and head of Venetian rugby Marzio Innocenti said that what Italy need is just one PRO12 team, without foreigners, and to save money to fix Eccellenza and junior rugby.

http://rugby1823.blogosfere.it/post/549 ... eccellenza

I am not Italian to have a deeper analysis, but I tend to agree with Innocenti. Italy needs one good federal team playing PRO12+Champions Cup, and not two struggling sides, and a strong Eccellenza (with 6 or 8 clubs, not 10, in my opinion, to secure a better level).

Discuss Italian rugby is key to understand the paths for new countries to grow.

What do you think?
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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby dropkick » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 13:52

Definitely not a third team in the pro 12. I think they should take a wait and see approach to see if their pro 12 sides become more competitive.

Also for a country like Italy, foreigners are important to bring new ideas.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Sables4EVA » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 14:45

I think 2 teams are necessary to give a certain number of players exposure, 1 is too little and 3 too much, but I do think the Eccelenza needs to be reduced to 6 or 8 teams.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby tryman » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 15:08

I really think they need two sides in the Pro12 but it goes without saying that they have to be competitive. Zebre have picked up four wins so far this season and where robbed in at least two other games, they are by far more competitive this season. Treviso have really gone backwards after a promising start. They had a mass clear out the pre season before last and never probably replaced their squad. Isn't there talk that Crowely the former Canadian coach will be part of their team?

Reduce the teams and in their domestic top league and give them more funding in the hope of producing a better standard of player.

I counted and they had 12 players playing overseas from their World Cup squad. Maybe get these 12 integrated back into the two Italian sides is the way to go but it's a double edged sword as they gain very good experience in overseas leagues.

Did I hear recently that Italy have set up a lot of new academy's? Now that they get less and less Argentinean players of Italian descent they really need to focus on their youth. Coaching systems in the country need to improve also.

Less not forget that Italy finished bottom of the six nations only once in the last four years however we obviously want them to achieve more than this.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 15:12

Also for a country like Italy, foreigners are important to bring new ideas.

Yes, it is true, but I believe he means players that cannot play for Italian national team. In the past Super 10 (now Eccellenza) clubs used to import more players with good impact inside the competition as far as I remember.

I think a balance between 6-8 professional Eccellenza clubs with a mix of italian emergent players and good foreigners with one franchise (a virtual national team) in PRO12 could have a positive impact. I must remember Argentina will have just one SR team, but they have a strong amateur clubs environment that provides path to the constant emergence of good players. Maybe Argentina's work is something Italy should look as a model.
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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby m.map » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 15:31

like Sables4EVA, I think we need two pro12 teams and a stronger Eccellenza (with 6 or 8 clubs).
but/and, above all, an approach to the rugby in school. If we start playing rugby aged 10/12 years (copying the english way), maybe in a decade we could grow a little. moreover, more rugby in free tv - Super XV, Currie cup, Rugby Championship, english and french championships, etc. - to raise awareness of rugby to the general public, currently anesthetized by soccer...

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Hansgrohe » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 19:28

If I'm not mistaken the current plan in Italy is for a youth movement; they've cleared house in the national side and have more young native borns in the ranks, which is ideal.

They probably should keep their Pro12 investments at two; Zebre is showing promise but Treviso has been awful. They need foreigners to help the game progress there. More coverage, and a focus on the domestic league itself. The reform in youth system sounds promising. Hopefully Italy will fulfill its potential one day... so promising in the 90s.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby sk 88 » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 19:32

I think joining the Pro 12 was the biggest mistake Italian rugby has ever made.

It has failed on all grounds, the national team is no better now than in the Super 10 era, the clubs performances in Europe is no better and the national side still calls on players based abroad. These were the three justifications used when Mallett forced this through.

Zebre have 4 wins but two were against Treviso!

For me they should withdraw from the Pro 12 and concentrate on their own domestic league. It has the potential to grow to be the size of the Prem or Top 14 given time, and when the Italian national team was at its best was in the mid to late 90s when the likes of Campese, Lynaugh, Kirwin and Nass Botha were all playing in Italy.

Italy is a big country and needs to act like it. All clubs to have academies and the FIR to run 3 (possibly 4 but north west, north east and Rome/central are the three natural rugby regions in Italy) combination academies until U-20s. Can the tide be turned though? After forcing the benefactors out with nationalising the clubs will they come back?

Going to 1 team is madness. Going to three might work but I doubt the other 10 clubs would agree to it. I seriously doubt the home games v Italians cover the costs of the away ones at the moment.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby ruckovercdn » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 19:36

m.map wrote:like Sables4EVA, I think we need two pro12 teams and a stronger Eccellenza (with 6 or 8 clubs).
but/and, above all, an approach to the rugby in school. If we start playing rugby aged 10/12 years (copying the english way), maybe in a decade we could grow a little. moreover, more rugby in free tv - Super XV, Currie cup, Rugby Championship, english and french championships, etc. - to raise awareness of rugby to the general public, currently anesthetized by soccer...



I think that's key, it's a similar story to South Africa in that changes at the top are easy to make, and have media appeal, but the reality is that grass roots stuff is so much more important long term.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby rugby.change » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 19:53

Italy need to bring in something similar that South Africa did before the change of format in the Super Rugby.

Have a single pro-team in the Pro 12, made up of the best Italian players in Italy. Then have a 6-8 team semi-pro competition underneath the Pro side. The Pro team can then be made up of the best players in the Eccellenza, with the option to bring in or chuck out players during the season from the Eccellenza, depending on form. So basically the Pro team is an Eccellenza select side. Then should players not play for the pro team one week, can then be released to their Eccellenza team to play that week. It gives them game time, and the "pro" players can help mentor the "amateur players" in the Eccellenza.

As for in Europe, I don't like the idea of each nation having their best side automatically getting a place in the Champions Cup. It should be the best 6/7 regardless of how many Irish, Welsh and so make up the 6/7. If the pro Italian teams makes the top 6/7 then they are in the Champions Cup, if not the Challenge cup.

Then the top 2/3 Eccellenza sides get a place in the Champions Cup to give those players exposure to a higher level. As for the national team, the head coach, weather it's Brunel or not, needs to stop pretending Italy is a professional top Tier 1 side. They need to think like some of the Tier 2 sides, who still looks at the talent at the amateur level in their countries. They need to stop ignoring the players in the Eccellenza as there could be as proven in the World Cup, top talent in the mix. Canna in particular!!

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby m.map » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 20:26

rugby.change wrote:They need to think like some of the Tier 2 sides, who still looks at the talent at the amateur level in their countries

I agree your arguments. and, I think, Italy is no more a tier 1.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 20:36

Have a single pro-team in the Pro 12, made up of the best Italian players in Italy. Then have a 6-8 team semi-pro competition underneath the Pro side. The Pro team can then be made up of the best players in the Eccellenza, with the option to bring in or chuck out players during the season from the Eccellenza, depending on form. So basically the Pro team is an Eccellenza select side. Then should players not play for the pro team one week, can then be released to their Eccellenza team to play that week. It gives them game time, and the "pro" players can help mentor the "amateur players" in the Eccellenza.


Agree!

Moreover, Italian PRO12 fail in attract supporteurs. It is always dismal crowds even compared to poor crowds other PRO12 sides use to have.

If Italy has just one PRO12 team (called "Italia" + something, to make it meaningful for people not used to rugby) and 6-8 Eccellenza clubs, the PRO12 team could play every round in one Eccellenza ground (if the structure is ok), making every Eccellenza club to receive a double-header "Rugby day" PRO12+Eccellenza matches. 11 home matches means 1 or 2 "Double-header Rugby days" for each club. Make a "junior/kids festival" together and that's it, a nice event that can attract people. If the clubs are smart they can even make a partneship with the municipalities to host the event in a local bigger football stadium (if there is a nice one available). Maybe it could shake the things in every rugby town.
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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby sk 88 » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 21:14

Making it a traveling circus is a terrible idea.

No identity. No home advantage. No esprit de clocher.

Having one team only is a terrible idea, though at least as they pick foreign based players there is a chance if you fall out with the local side.

What would it take for people to admit that the regionalisation of Italian rugby has failed?

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 21:21

All probable cities in a 6/8-teams Eccellenza are located in a triangle of 300km per side in the North (Parma-Calvisano-Treviso), except Rome, which means it is not a big trouble.

The idea is just one: make the Eccellenza matches more attended, therefore local clubs stronger, using PRO12 event to boost it. Alone Eccellenza clubs also don't have much support. The PRO12 team must have the identity of "Italy", exatly like what the Jaguars will be in Argentina. There is identity.
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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby sk 88 » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 21:35

There isn't.

There is identity in Treviso, Rovigo, Petrarca, L'Aquila, Viadana, Parma.

Making the national team play in the Pro 12 will just bring down the level of the national side to Pro12 level. Going from 10 to 2 sides has not improved Italian sides either domestic or national. Why will going to 1 make it any better? Wales went from 9 to 5 to 4. The best domestic sides are still at the same level they were when they had 9 sides.

Italy is a country of 60m people with a hundred years of rugby history and people want them to regress to the national side playing Newport & Munster. Sorry but its clearly a rubbish idea.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 21:42

There is identity in Treviso, Rovigo, Petrarca, L'Aquila, Viadana, Parma.

Exactly. That's why these identities must be boosted with good quality events. You are agreeing desagreeing. And it is not quite the national team, because it wouldn't have players that choose to play in other countries, just like rugby.change said. It is simply to agree that regionalization went wrong, Zebre and Treviso split failed, but save better quality games for top players, while focusing on Eccellenza club rugby. Quite simple.

Italy is a country of 60m people with a hundred years of rugby history and people want them to regress to the national side playing Newport & Munster. Sorry but its clearly a rubbish idea.

Argentina has 40m people, more than a hunders years of rugby, more succesful than Italy, and will face Western Force.
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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby sk 88 » Sat, 09 Jan 2016, 22:06

And I'd bet your bottom dollar that they expand to a second team within 5 years.

These Italian sides have competed in European competitions for 20 years. Concentrating their numbers has not made them any better. Concentrating their numbers again will not make them better.

Italy needs to focus on building domestic rugby. A domestic league with local interest will grow the game and raise standards, just as it did in the 90s and just as it does in England and France.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby thatrugbyguy » Sun, 10 Jan 2016, 01:41

I gave up on Italian rugby back in 2007 when the let in 74 points against the All Blacks in the World Cup. The fact they shipped that many points despite having 7 years of exposure to 6 Nations rugby and more regular south hemisphere opponents was embarrassing. Argentina in 4 years of Rugby Championship experience has become one of the elite teams in the world in comparison and will only get better with Super Rugby. The only monkey they have left to get off their back is a win against NZ, and given their rise in the last few years that's not too far away. Italy, well, they've just never gotten their act together. At this point I'm tired of waiting for them to start making some kind of mark in the 6 Nations.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Coloradoan » Sun, 10 Jan 2016, 06:00

thatrugbyguy wrote:I gave up on Italian rugby back in 2007 when the let in 74 points against the All Blacks in the World Cup. The fact they shipped that many points despite having 7 years of exposure to 6 Nations rugby and more regular south hemisphere opponents was embarrassing. Argentina in 4 years of Rugby Championship experience has become one of the elite teams in the world in comparison and will only get better with Super Rugby. The only monkey they have left to get off their back is a win against NZ, and given their rise in the last few years that's not too far away. Italy, well, they've just never gotten their act together. At this point I'm tired of waiting for them to start making some kind of mark in the 6 Nations.


Italy was able to get to a certain level in large part due to Argies via the (grand)parent rule and residency players through their pro clubs. But taking Argie rejects and second rate pros (those typically not good enough to play in one of the other top European leagues) can only get you so far. On top of that, relying on imports makes it easy to neglect the grassroots and high performance age grade systems. Argentina didn't have the luxury of either of those things to supplement the Pumas, so they were forced to develop more young local talent and now they're enjoying the fruits of that labor.

I read (here?) that the FIR had made some reforms in its development systems and, indeed, they beat Wales at U18 level last year so perhaps that will start showing at higher levels of the game soon.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Amargo » Sun, 10 Jan 2016, 14:28

thatrugbyguy wrote:I gave up on Italian rugby back in 2007 when the let in 74 points against the All Blacks in the World Cup.

So one should also dismiss France??

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby pr9rizh » Mon, 11 Jan 2016, 00:36

The italians teams could found a "Latin League" with tems of Spain, Portugal and Romania. I think Zebre and Treviso are so weak im Pro 12. I know than Italian teams will be so strong in this new league but help to open professional players in T2 countries in Europe. A "Eastern League" with teams of Georgia, Rusia, Ukranie and Romania (again). About exit of italian teams from Pro 12, they could be replaced for a new scottish and a new north welsh team

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby thatrugbyguy » Mon, 11 Jan 2016, 01:04

Amargo wrote:So one should also dismiss France??


France we equally disgraceful in October but they've got the foundations to fix the problem. Italy has been going around in circles since 2000.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby josh » Mon, 11 Jan 2016, 13:07

victorsra wrote: Marzio Innocenti said that what Italy need is just one PRO12 team, without foreigners.

I hate that idea. It might be good for the Italian national team, but its not right for PRO12 and goes against the spirit of club teams. Zebre and Benetton Treviso, or whatever Pro12 teams Italy have, should be focused on winning games, getting spectators, selling merchandise, etc., and should be allowed to field plenty of nonItalians, with the aim of becoming profitable and successful. They shouldn't just be a vehicle for the Italian national team to have more matches or to try out potential players.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Sables4EVA » Mon, 11 Jan 2016, 15:39

pr9rizh wrote:The italians teams could found a "Latin League" with tems of Spain, Portugal and Romania. I think Zebre and Treviso are so weak im Pro 12. I know than Italian teams will be so strong in this new league but help to open professional players in T2 countries in Europe. A "Eastern League" with teams of Georgia, Rusia, Ukranie and Romania (again). About exit of italian teams from Pro 12, they could be replaced for a new scottish and a new north welsh team


The Eastern league would struggle to get off the ground with the tensions in that area. I think the Latin league might be a good idea but in the same format as the British and Irish Cup with the 2nd Div French teams.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Mon, 11 Jan 2016, 16:06

Well, a Latin League needs money. Where is it?

Italy needs to focus on Eccellenza development. If Spain or Portugal are interested in field teams in such a competition, great. But Italy's solution is not in Spain or Portugal, definitly. If it is to keep a costly transnational competition stay in PRO12.

For Spain, if they find resources they might field a team in Frence's lower divisions. It would be just cross the border. The main point is to negotiate with LNR. In fact, I've already questioned if Italy should approach LNR (and not PRO12).
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