Italy rejigs its Elite Club Structure

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On 16 July the Italian Rugby Union (FIR) announced its new plans for women’s club rugby next season.

Daniele Pacini, the Technical Director, laid out the next steps towards building a thriving set of club competitions to raise Italy’s standing in world rugby.

Six clubs will form an elite league (Group A) within Serie A, chosen on past results. Twenty more will be apportioned to three divisions of six and seven split geographically. Matches will be played home and away over a season lasting from October to June.

A series of play-offs is scheduled for May, with the final taking place at the start of June.

That total of 26 will provide the same challenges as England and France have found in narrowing the spread of talent and achievement across the nation.

Crucially, a series of play-offs will decide which two clubs from the three leagues below Group A will be promoted to join a new elite of eight clubs in 2022-23. So the best path forward is seen as a gradual extension of that select band.

In one respect the club structure in Italy suffers from the same fault as the English Premier 15s and the French Elite 1: a small number of clubs stand way ahead of their competitors in on-field strength. Each nation is feeling its own way towards a solution of the problem.

The FIR will provide more detail of next season’s programme in September.