Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Italy national rugby union team
Forms of football involving both hands and feet have long been played in Italy from harpastrum in Roman times to Calcio Fiorentino in the medieval era. It is normally said that Rugby union was first introduced into Italy by French students at Milano University in 1911 but recently it has been discovered that British communities brought rugby to Genoa between 1890 and 1895. It remains stronger in the North of Italy than in the Centre or the South.
The first documented rugby union match played in Italy was a demonstration game played in 1910 in Turin between Racing Club París and Servette of Geneva on the initiative of a newspaper. The society that organised the game didn't have a long life and disssolved after this frist game but the game became known in Milan. The first match played by an Italian team was a year later US Milanese against Voiron of France. In July 25 of the same year the "Propaganda Commitee" was formed which in 1928 became the Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR). The FIR joined the International Rugby Board (IRB) in 1990. There was a further game in 1928 when Ambrosiana Milano beat R.C.T. Bucharest 15-03.
The first Italian championship, won by Ambrosiana Milano, took place in 1929, with 6 of the 16 teams that existed in Italy. The same year Italy played their first international losing 9-0 against Spain (represented by Catalonia) in Barcelona.
After the formation of FIRA in 1933, which encompassed the national teams of Italy, France, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Germany rugby union spreads through Italy, especially the cities of Milan, Rome, Turin, Bologna, Padua, Naples, Genoa, Brescia, Treviso, Rovigo and Parma
World War Two interrupted Italian rugby union. After World War Two, there was a desire to return to normal and Italian rugby union entered a new dimension thanks to the help of Allied troops in Italy. But Italy followed the French model until the 70s. Very soon Veneto (Rovigo, Padua and Treviso) came to assume a prominent position in the Italian rugby union scene earning the name "Republic of the Italian rugby union". Parma and Áquila were also main centres for rugby union.
In the 70s rugby union made enormous progress thanks to great foreign players (John Kirwan, Botha, Campese, Lynagh) and coaches (Saby, Bish, Greenwood, Nelie Smith) in the Italian championship. Even foreign coaches were and continue to be chosen for the national team, like Bertrande Fourcade and Georges Costas. In 1973 the national team went on a tour of South Africa, coached by ex-Springbok prop Amos Du Ploony. Tours of England and Scotland followed, even games against Australia and New Zealand, the masters of their day.
Since 1980 Italy has been chasing the dream of playing in the 5 Nations. Consistently good results against nations that now play in the European Nations Cup (Romania, Spain, Georgia etc), the occasional win against the major nations such as France, Scotland, Wales or Ireland and a last 16 finish in the '91, '95 and '99 World Cups meant that they were often talked about as strong candidates.
Since then they have struggled to compete against the other nations and their participation was called into question, however they answered their critics by playing a more disciplined game. The 2001 and 2002 tournaments were particularly disappointing as they did not win a single game. They managed to get their second win in 2003 against Wales and their third against Scotland in 2004. They are coached by John Kirwan.
With many of their top players also involved in European club competition, the overall standard of play is improving constantly but it is likely to be a long time before Italy win their first Six Nations Championship. More and more Italians are coming watch rugby games and where as before most of the fans at the Stadio Flaminio were away fans, now Italy has a good home crowd. One cause for optimism in Italian rugby is that their star players tend to be young and are likely to improve with time.
Italy, along with other nations, had made good use of IRB rules which allowed them to select foreign born players if they had Italian ancestry or had lived in Italy for a qualifying period of 3 years. From 2004 they announced that they would only pick three such 'non-Italians' per team in order to develop their own domestic players.
- Mirco Bergamasco
- Carlo Checchinato
- Massimo Cuttitta
- Diego Dominguez
- Andrea Lo Cicero
- Aaron Persico
- Alessandro Troncon
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