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The future of Italian Rugby

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Mon, 16 Nov 2020, 13:37

Let's think about what would be an ideal city for a professional rugby team. I know there are cultural differences between England and Italy. One of the biggest differences would be where does rugby sit in the order of popular spectator team sports. In England rugby is number 2 after soccer. In Italy I think rugby is probably number 4 after soccer, basketball and volleyball. Rugby in Italy probably only just qualities as a major sport.
Nevertheless, I will use England as an example of a country that is comparable to Italy in terms of economy and population.
With the exception of Bath, all Premiership rugby clubs are in cities of at least 100k people. There are some clubs in huge cities that are de facto regional capitals (Bristol, Leicester, Newcastle and of course London) but 4 of them are in fairly small cities (Exeter, Bath, Gloucester, Worcester) with populations of between 89k and 131k. The rugby clubs in these cities are not in all cases the only professional sports team, but they are the number 1 team in their respective city. And I think that is important. I lived in Northampton. The partners of the firm I worked for would entertain clients by taking them to the rugby club. A Premiership rugby club with its executive boxes has a high cache, matched only probably by Premier League football.
So, back to Italy, for potential professional rugby clubs, 4 can be dismissed for having tiny populations (Calvisano, Colorno, Mogliano, Viadana).
Lyons Piacenza is an interesting prospect. Population 104k. The rugby club is maybe the second biggest sports club after the volleyball team. They don't have a professional soccer team. They went bust. Could there be an opportunity here to convert some soccer fans?
Petrarca is maybe the obvious choice for the third professional rugby team. Padua has a population of 214k, they are natural rivals for Benetton Treviso, and they already have a suitable stadium. My main concern is that they are probably behind the city's soccer team I'm terms of popularity. Could that be changed?
Valorugby Emilia in the city of Reggio Emilia (population 172k) but the rugby club will probably always be third behind the soccer team and the basketball team.
After these cities we can go one of 2 ways:
1. Create artificial rugby franchises in Italy's huge cities (Rome and Milan). I think this will fail. I think of attempts made by rugby clubs to go professional in England's big football cities (Liverpool and Birmingham). Manchester also doesn't have a professional rugby team. I do not believe in the "build it and they will come" approach.
2. Slightly small cities where the rugby club is the number 1 sports team. Rovigo has a population of only 52k, but I believe it is famous for its rugby club, something its citizens will be proud of presumably. Treviso has a population of only 85k. L'Aquila has a population of 71k. If the rugby club puts them on the map and they have nice facilities this could be a better option than Rome. Plus these clubs already have a history and a core of supporters which I expect is as important to Italians as it is to the English.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Mon, 16 Nov 2020, 14:15

But why someone would attend Fiamme Oro or Lazio? They play in places that are barely stadiums in a competition with much lower quality than Pro14.

Lazio is constantly playing against relegation (and wears Lazio symbols... Why a AS Roma would bother watching them?). While Fiamme Oro is the Police club, which is definitly not cool. Plus, what's the quality of their events?
People have hundreds of things to do on weekends. You dont attend a random rugby match in a field with a stand just because it is rugby (well, I do, but most rugby people don't). I honestly cant see any reason for a Capitolina guy, for exemple, to go there, unless he has friends in the other club.

I can't see Fiamme Oro and Lazio as any proof that Romans wouldnt attend Pro14.

Of course Pro14 is not that great as a league as well, but the event itself can be 1000% better than Fiamme Oro or Lazio...

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Mon, 16 Nov 2020, 14:18

io.porcorosso wrote:
victorsra wrote:
io.porcorosso wrote:

victorsra wrote:What I'd like to see is Zebre relocated to Rome, to Stadio Flaminio.

Canalina gave the right reply. In Rome the fan base is even lower than in Parma. The 6N is an happening, it does not increase the Rome rugby potential at all.

Cheers PR-WSM

I realy find it hard to believe Roma has smaller number of rugby followers than Parma. When I look the list of clubs from Top 10 to Serie C it is the city with more clubs in Italy. Of course each one might have less members, but it is hard to believe.... so, what happens?

I guess, a theory, is that while a small city has fewer clubs or even players, the sport gets more attention and, obviously, fans. In a big city like Rome, although there are more clubs there and maybe even more players, the sports usualy stays restricted to that community, as it is harder to get attention in a metropolis. Maybe that makes sense?

Still, when the marketing works and the sport breaks the bubble, the metropolis can offer much more.

You are mixing different data.
The ABs fulfilled San Siro, while Australia just attracted 20000/30000 in Padova last year.

Do we have to assume that we need to settle the core of our rugby in Milan and discharge Padova?
In terms of pure number [or potential number] your hypothesis is right, but the answer is no.
Why?

There's basically a different perspective between what is considered an "event", where people gathers from more then one area and feel it as a must [ABs 2009] or not [AUS 2019], and something considered as a "standard".

The example is clear in your suggestion: Rome. A good number of clubs, many times on the highest domestic: Capitolina [they played for years at the Flaminio stadium too], Roma Olimpic [played in a 3000 seat stadium] and Lazio. So why in Rome [3mln] the crowds are constantly far smaller than in Rovigo [51k]?

The answer lay in more than one aspect, but the core of it is that rugby and membership with the club have different results from area to area. Pro14 - Treviso demonstrates it - does not escape from this rule.

There's one of the biggest International Film Festival in Venice each year with tons is stars and quite all the films got sold out, but cinemas in Venice are struggling to survive, cause quite no one goes to cinema during the year.

Cheers PR-WSM


And how Rome put 37.000 to watch Argentina? That many Argies? They are not the blockbuster kind of team.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby io.porcorosso » Mon, 16 Nov 2020, 21:47

Ehy.
If you don't believe in us [but you can ask in rugby.it forum to anyone else if you want to test your hypothesis] it is fine, but reality won't change.

Cheers PR-WSM
Last edited by io.porcorosso on Mon, 16 Nov 2020, 21:50, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Mon, 16 Nov 2020, 21:49

I obviously believe in you. But there are questions anyway. Isn't that match attendance puzzling for you? The same thing about Lazio/Fiamme Oro vs Other Roman clubs vs PRO14, those are useful questions for the discussion. I'm not trying to find a truth, as clearly there are more questions than answers. That's why it is good to make the questions and advance.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby io.porcorosso » Mon, 16 Nov 2020, 22:00

victorsra wrote:I obviously believe in you. But there are questions anyway. Isn't that match attendance puzzling for you? The same thing about Lazio/Fiamme Oro vs PRO14.

Look, an International match attract people from different area. If you will ever have the possibility to get to a 6N or Test Match in Rome, just investigate from where your seat neighbors are, barely a few would say you Rome.

If you shift Zebre from Parma to Rome, you will obtain just a similar result. I'm sorry, I would love to say you that's s good idea, but actually it won't improve the present situation.

Cheers PR-WSM

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Mon, 16 Nov 2020, 22:16

I attended England vs Italy at the Flaminio in 2010 (that 12-17, that ended Wilkinson's 100% kicking performance streak). I saw many English guys, of course, but also many Italians and many of the Italians looked to be from other cities as they were with club shirts and banners. But I felt many were Romans as well (I talked to a Roman guy that I believe told me he played for Primavera... maybe....).

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby io.porcorosso » Mon, 16 Nov 2020, 22:36

Let me also specify something more.

There're many factors that attract people to sport in Italy, but the main one is to belong.

A club match will attract you mostly because you feel to belong to one of the two teams. This factor is not easy to define but you do not create it easily for a brand new club without roots.

Then the second factor is Rivalry. It is not playing against the best, but against the one you feel the necessity to "prevail". In soccer, the highest crowds at stadium, for all the teams, is the match against Juventus, not because they are the best, but because everyone dream to beat them.

Then the third factor is the level and the familiarity of the competition.

If you put, for instance, Treviso, Petrarca and Rovigo in PRO14 you will have, probably, a sold-out each time. It will be not the PRO14 effect, but the rejoining of the previous rivalry.

There are off course other factors, money, marketing, players and so on, but do not underestimate the value that we give to sport. People like you and me, that do love rugby, simply because it's rugby, are few.

Cheers PR-WSM

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Mon, 16 Nov 2020, 22:46

Well, definitly to kick out Zebre and ad another Venetian team could help, but I'm afraid there will be only room for two teams. Whoever is left out of those 3 will struggle a lot.

Nice article https://www.rivistaundici.com/2020/01/3 ... -problemi/

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Mon, 16 Nov 2020, 22:58

io.porcorosso wrote:If you put, for instance, Treviso, Petrarca and Rovigo in PRO14 you will have, probably, a sold-out each time. It will be not the PRO14 effect, but the rejoining of the previous rivalry.


I believe you are correct. From the basic analysis I did above I think the most suitable clubs to add, to have four Italian Pro 14 teams, would be Petrarca and Rovigo. I think this would be the best situation for Italian rugby.

I don't think there are any other clubs that a suitable for going professional at the moment.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Tue, 17 Nov 2020, 01:14


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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby io.porcorosso » Tue, 17 Nov 2020, 12:28

victorsra wrote:Any news about this? https://www.onrugby.it/2019/11/17/consi ... -dal-2021/

No news.
Last about this bid was that the new elected presidency will decide on it.
Elections seem to be happening in spring 2021.

Cheers PR-WSM

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Tue, 17 Nov 2020, 12:41

io.porcorosso wrote:
victorsra wrote:Any news about this? https://www.onrugby.it/2019/11/17/consi ... -dal-2021/

No news.
Last about this bid was that the new elected presidency will decide on it.
Elections seem to be happening in spring 2021.

Cheers PR-WSM


I don't really see what would be the benefit to Italian rugby of Petrarca replacing Zebre. A third team would be great.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby io.porcorosso » Tue, 17 Nov 2020, 12:55

Chester-Donnelly wrote:
io.porcorosso wrote:
victorsra wrote:Any news about this? https://www.onrugby.it/2019/11/17/consi ... -dal-2021/

No news.
Last about this bid was that the new elected presidency will decide on it.
Elections seem to be happening in spring 2021.

Cheers PR-WSM


I don't really see what would be the benefit to Italian rugby of Petrarca replacing Zebre. A third team would be great.

It has been put on the table 4mln of euros [annually] as private investment to build a better team.

At the present stage Zebre are totally under the FIR sustainment.

Cheers PR-WSM

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Tue, 17 Nov 2020, 13:22

io.porcorosso wrote:
Chester-Donnelly wrote:
io.porcorosso wrote:
victorsra wrote:Any news about this? https://www.onrugby.it/2019/11/17/consi ... -dal-2021/

No news.
Last about this bid was that the new elected presidency will decide on it.
Elections seem to be happening in spring 2021.

Cheers PR-WSM


I don't really see what would be the benefit to Italian rugby of Petrarca replacing Zebre. A third team would be great.

It has been put on the table 4mln of euros [annually] as private investment to build a better team.

At the present stage Zebre are totally under the FIR sustainment.

Cheers PR-WSM


OK, thanks. Still, it would be better if Italy could add a third team, rather than just move Zebre to Padua and name it Petrarca. Is this an admission that Zebre will never have a fan base?

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Tue, 17 Nov 2020, 13:38

With the South Africans in PRO16 I doubt there will be any chance of another expansion soon. If there was a chance, Cheetahs would be happy. But 16 seems to be where they'll stop for a while.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Tue, 17 Nov 2020, 13:48

victorsra wrote:With the South Africans in PRO16 I doubt there will be any chance of another expansion soon. If there was a chance, Cheetahs would be happy. But 16 seems to be where they'll stop for a while.


Maybe a third professional team could play in the STMKY Super League :lol:

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Tue, 17 Nov 2020, 14:41

Yes, one from Botswana and two from Nicaragua as well.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby io.porcorosso » Tue, 17 Nov 2020, 17:22

Chester-Donnelly wrote:OK, thanks. Still, it would be better if Italy could add a third team, rather than just move Zebre to Padua and name it Petrarca. Is this an admission that Zebre will never have a fan base?

No one will never admit it :)
At the moment, if any other union will have the urgent necessity to field another team, there's no way to obtain a third club in PROX for Italy.
Cheers PR-WSM

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby ihateblazers » Wed, 18 Nov 2020, 05:12

I still question what the point of the pro x Involvement is. Yes, signs are looking better recently for the national team and academies but what is the favourable goal and the subsequent benefits it would bring to rugby in Italy? Both realistically and idealistically.

If Italy were to win a 6 nations title or even a grand slam that would be great, but would it have any impact on the game there? The 6 nations doesn’t have the same grip on the sports landscape that it does in the other 5 nations, maybe it could raise the profile of the tournament and then lead to more money for the union which flows down. Even that is unrealistic with Ireland, Wales, France and England having far stronger systems in place to bring in high quality players. So the end result is treading water and hoping to gain some ground.

We see the criticism towards France and the top 14, but they have millions of people watching the top 14 final and regular season games. That’s a larger indication of real interest in the game nationally than international team success in my opinion. I believe that a World Cup win is the only way to drastically raise the profile of the sport and have a lasting legacy for T1 in particular and unfortunately that is not a realistic ambition for Italy anytime soon.

Does Italy really have anything to lose by returning to a pro domestic league? I don’t think so. They won’t be relegated from the 6 nations anytime soon. They would have a larger pool of players to select from. The opportunity to grow their domestic market by focusing on rivalries and tribalism and engage more with the public. With the establishment of the national-regional academy system and high performance academies in Trevino and Zebre, perhaps the time has come to leave and throw caution to the wind. Go on a signing spree in Argentina, Georgia, Romania, Pacific Islanders, South Africans and other T2 European nations to boost the squads.

To clarify, I see Italy’s and other T1’s situation differently than T2. T1 has established international tournaments which brings in a large chunk of revenue which T2 does not have the luxury of. So the goals and the means to achieve growth are different.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Wed, 18 Nov 2020, 12:52

Ihateblazers you make a very good point and I think I agree with you. I think a professional league in Italy's rugby heartlands would give rugby a boost in Italy. And what better time than when the Jaguares players, and potentially Romania's professional players are looking for professional contracts (once Covid is under control). Go with a six team professional league involving Benetton Treviso, a team in Parma, Lyons Piacenza, Valorugby Emilia, Petrarca and Rovigo. These cities are fairly close to one another and well connected. Fans will easily be able to travel to away games. Benetton Treviso will still get to play games against its Pro 14 rivals in EPCR competitions.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Rebus » Wed, 18 Nov 2020, 14:25

Think these are valid points. Italy is not gaining anything in the current Pro format , fans are not interested in seeing losing teams. There would be more benefit in having one strong league with access to the European competitions than prioritisng the budget to 2 teams in Pro X.
Having a strong domestic league would give more opportuities for a wider player pool to exist. Yes , you may find that some players go and play in France and England , but like football , there are strong financial leagues who attract players , but countries retain a strong domestic league.

I read on this thread that countries like Italy should play in the Pro league but develop a domestic league at the same time. Once the need for a team in a cross border league is exhausted , withdraw from the league and focus on the domestic league. Italy is a good example of this and Scotland should be doing the same.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Wed, 18 Nov 2020, 15:03

Rebus wrote:Think these are valid points. Italy is not gaining anything in the current Pro format , fans are not interested in seeing losing teams. There would be more benefit in having one strong league with access to the European competitions than prioritisng the budget to 2 teams in Pro X.
Having a strong domestic league would give more opportuities for a wider player pool to exist. Yes , you may find that some players go and play in France and England , but like football , there are strong financial leagues who attract players , but countries retain a strong domestic league.

I read on this thread that countries like Italy should play in the Pro league but develop a domestic league at the same time. Once the need for a team in a cross border league is exhausted , withdraw from the league and focus on the domestic league. Italy is a good example of this and Scotland should be doing the same.


Do you really think Scotland should leave the Pro 14 and launch their own pro league? I thought the Scottish teams had good rivalries with the Irish and Welsh teams. There are strong cultural links and rivalries between the peoples of the British Isles. Italy is a major country and should be able to support its own professional league.
I guess Scotland could probably support a 6 team professional league with teams in Melrose, Glasgow, Ayr, Stirling and two in Edinburgh.

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby victorsra » Wed, 18 Nov 2020, 16:17

Chester-Donnelly wrote:Ihateblazers you make a very good point and I think I agree with you. I think a professional league in Italy's rugby heartlands would give rugby a boost in Italy. And what better time than when the Jaguares players, and potentially Romania's professional players are looking for professional contracts (once Covid is under control). Go with a six team professional league involving Benetton Treviso, a team in Parma, Lyons Piacenza, Valorugby Emilia, Petrarca and Rovigo. These cities are fairly close to one another and well connected. Fans will easily be able to travel to away games. Benetton Treviso will still get to play games against its Pro 14 rivals in EPCR competitions.


Was just an exemple or are you excluding Calvisano (that won 5 of the last 10 Italian Championships)?

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Re: The future of Italian Rugby

Postby Chester-Donnelly » Wed, 18 Nov 2020, 17:50

Calvisano is a comune of only 8500 people. I don't see how it can sustain a professional rugby club unless it receives a large subsidy from the regional government or a sponsor/benefactor. I was looking at clubs that have the potential to be professional and sustainable predominantly through ticket sales, match day revenue, merchandise, advertising/sponsorship and TV revenue.

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