RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Italy

TrevisoTeam: Benetton Treviso
Coach: Franco Smith
Ground: Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Key players in:
Doppies La Grange (Lions), Alberto de Marchi, Simone Favaro and Giulio Toniolatti. (Aironi), Dean Budd (NEC Green Rockets, Japan), Christian Loamanu (Toulon), Bees Roux (Bordeaux)
Key players out:
Carlo Fazzari and Gonzalo Garcia (Zebre), Willem de Waal and Bian Vermaak (Released.)
Last season Treviso were very much the underdogs, but sneaked some impressive victories over the Warrior Nation and Ulster. Their key strength lies in the new faces at Stadio di Monigo. As one of two Italian sides, the profile of the club is getting larger and the support base growing.
Lack of scoring ability and a failure of various kickers last year will be hard to overturn this season. A victory in preseason against Wasps has revitalised the dressing room, but the backline last season leaked tries at an unsustainable rate.
Player Watch:
New boy Dean Budd, who has moved from the lucrative Japanese league. The Kiwi flanker will be quick off the scrum and should put pressure on scrum halves throughout the league.
Last season:
Poor run after Christmas left the Benetton Treviso side languishing in tenth place. Out of the 22 league games they won only 7.
It’s difficult to see a huge change in a side that needed to bring in no fewer than 13 new players this season. Other federations have programmes in place to raise the standard of rugby throughout their specific region. Whilst the F.I.R also has this system they do not seem to enforce it. Prediction? Lowly 11th
Website: www.benettonrugby.it
Twitter: @benettonrugby
Facebook: www.facebook.com/benettonrugby
Click here to join the Benetton Treviso Fans league on SuperBru


ZebreTeam: Zebre Rugby
Coach: Alessandro Troncon and Vincenzo Troiani
Ground: Stadio XXV Aprile
Key players: Marco Bortolami, Mauro Bergamasco, Josh Sole, Daniel Halangahu, Giovanbattista Venditti
Assessing the strength of this new team is difficult, but in a recent pre-season friendly with Aviva stalwarts, Northampton Saints, they ran out 30-28 winners. They showed the ability to make line breaks and formed decent defensive lines, and the large number of Italian internationals will bring experience and ability to make them hard to beat at home.
The big unknown for this squad is how they will combine in a competitive match after preseason. The names are there to ensure a good start against the Dragons in Newport, but it is likely to take two to three rounds to get themselves together.
Player Watch:
This year’s skipper is Marco Bortolami. The Azzuri captain has had successful spells at Gloucester, reaching the Premiership final, and Aironi. A devastating carrier he will lead this new side from the front and dominate the breakdown.
Last season:
Not applicable here.
The new players will struggle at times with the pace of the RaboDirect Pro 12, and as previously mentioned defence may be a problem. It’s hard but no better than 12th this year.
Website: www.zebrerugby.com (This is in Italian and the page translation is not the greatest.)
Twitter: @zebrerugby
Facebook: www.facebook.com/zebrerugby
Click here to join the Zebre Fans league on SuperBru

8 thoughts on “RaboDirect PRO12 Preview: Italy

  1. Dear “expert” I’m willing to bet with you that the Benetton Lions will not reach 11th. There will be nice surprises for you!

  2. Adribordi, firstly thanks for taking the time to read the article. I genuinely do hope that I am wrong. The Italian support at every game I have been to has been exceptional, and I am willing to bet that the travelling support will grow this year. We cannot get away from the fact that certainly the start of the season will be difficult for both the Italian sides due to the new players having to ‘gel’ very quickly and in argubly one of the fastest leagues in the world. The three opening games Ospreys, Munster and Leinster is no easy start for any team. I wish Treviso the very best for the year.

  3. Dear Andrew, thank you very much for your quick response. I am convinced that the situation is very different Benetton and Zebras. Treviso has never reached 11 and is continuing to grow. In preseason won largagamente with Wasps and show a very good defense with Sarries.
    I predict a sixth or seventh place. If I win, I’ll buy you a beer!

  4. I hope you do win!!!! Mines a Peroni! In all seriousness the Italian national side will only benefit from having competetive teams and players, and Treviso/ Zebre have class players across the board. I hope that 11th and 12th are dire predictions and they infact push for playoff places.

    Con un po’ di fortuna, tutto è possibile.

  5. Ciao Andrew!
    Well begun is half done(chi ben comincia è a metà dell’opera)! Meanwhile, for the first time we beat the Ospreys (playing badly). I confirm that surprises you from Italy! The Zebras will come last, unfortunately. Meanwhile, Treviso started the season by beating Wasps, Sarries and Ospreys: it never happened! In your opinion, how many points will win the next Muster we?
    Con un po’ di fortuna, tutto è possibile. Fortune favors the bold!
    Birra e pizza confirmed!

  6. I didnt get to to see the game but by all accounts Ospreys failed to take chances and conditions meant Biggar missed off the tee. A red card for Evans for two yellow card offences. I think it says all you need you need to know that all the points came from the boot. I hope that Burton can keep this form into the Six Nations. A poor game, but a win! Sorry but a Munster side at home will be a task to large for Treviso. Munster by 15. Spero che mi sbaglio

    1. Hello Andrew, finally I write you!
      Only a few games at the end of the season is very near. I have to say that maybe I’m closer to my forecast about Benetton’s season.
      I had planned well. Now we have at home Blues, Connacht and Edinburgh. What do you say? We are able to keep the seventh position?

  7. Hello Andrew. When celebrating my prediction correct?
    Have you seen that much good season made the Lions of Treviso?
    If the referees are not biased toward Anglo-Saxon you might have done even better.
    I’ll wait to Treviso for a beer!
    Foeza Leoni

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