Source: FER

Revolutionary News from Italy and Spain

  • +1

Just before Christmas the FIR has announced a completely new initiative to advance the standing of women’s rugby in the two Latinate nations.


Two new franchises have been created, based on the existing men’s clubs, Benetton and Zebre. They include 65 players from 15 clubs, a blend of seasoned internationals, players on the edge of test recognition, newcomers and – significantly – a maximum of one non-Italian player.

The national head coach, Giovanni Raineri, will be in overall charge; the two head coaches are his two assistants, Plinio Sciamanna and Francesco Iannucci.

The squads:

Benetton Rugby:

Martina Busana (Villorba Rugby), Erika Campigotto (Benetton Treviso), Beatrice Capomaggi (Villorba Rugby), Micol Cavina (Villorba Rugby), Francesca Celli (Benetton Treviso), Matilde Cheval (Valsugana Padova), Elettra Costantini (Valsugana Padova), Rebecca Crivellaro (Villorba Rugby), Alyssa D’Incà (Villorba Rugby), Alessia Della Sala (Rebels Rugby Vicenza), Giordana Duca (Valsugana Padova), Alice Fortuna (Rebels Rugby Vicenza), Alessia Franco (Benetton Treviso), Alessandra Frangipani (Villorba Rugby), Sofia Giacomini (Benetton Treviso), Elisa Giordano (Valsugana Padova), Laura Gurioli (Villorba Rugby), Maria Magatti (Benetton Treviso), Alessia Margotti (Valsugana Padova), Aura Muzzo (Villorba Rugby), Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi (Valsugana Padova), Aregash Pellizzon (Benetton Treviso), Michela Sillari (Valsugana Padova), Gaia Simeon (Villorba Rugby), Emanuela Stecca (Villorba Rugby), Sofia Stefan (Valsugana Padova), Emma Stevanin (Valsugana Padova), Emma Tognon (Benetton Treviso), Margherita Tonellotto (Valsugana Padova), Vittoria Vecchini (Valsugana Padova), Beatrice Veronese (Valsugana Padova), Gaia Vigolo (Valsugana Padova), Alice Visman (Valsugana Padova).

Zebre Parma:

IIlaria Alonzi (Roma Rugby), Anna Carnevali (Rugby Colorno), Alice Cassaghi (Cus Milano), Sofia Catellani (Rugby Colorno), Giulia Cavina (Cus Milano), Chiara Cheli (Rugby Colorno), Angelica Cittadini (Unione Capitolina), Giada Corradini (Rugby Colorno), Giorgia Cuoghi (Highlanders Formigine), Sara D’Andrea (Lupi Frascati), Gaia Dosi (Rugby Colorno), Elena Errichiello (Unione Capitolina), Melania Galleani (Cus Milano), Francesca Granzotto (Unione Capitolina), Rubina Emma Grassi (Toulon), Alessia Gronda (Cus Torino), Mascia Jelic (Rugby Colorno), Isabella Locatelli (Rugby Colorno), Antonella Maione (Neapolis Campania Felix), Sara Mannini (Rugby Colorno), Nicole Mastrangelo (Unione Capitolina), Lucie Moioli (I Centurioni Rugby), Sara Negroni (Unione Capitolina), Laura Paganini (Cus Milano), Alessia Pilani (Rugby Colorno), Mihaela Pirpiliu (Rugby Rovato), Alissa Ranuccini (Rugby Colorno), Maria Nicole Ruggio (Rugby Colorno), Luna Agatha Sacchi (Cus Torino), Desiree Spinelli (Le Puma Bisenzio), Arianna Toeschi (Cus Torino), Lavinia Tonna (Lupi Frascati).

At first glance the Benetton squad looks much the stronger; so many experienced first-choice internationals figure there (Sillari, Giordano and Stefan for starters).

The mention of the fifteen clubs from the top two elite leagues is less impressive than it might seem. It’s sensible to cast the net wide, so that more players have the chance to catch the selectors’ eyes. But the gulf in attainment is one of the abiding weaknesses of the Italian structures. In Elite 1 alone the top teams, Valsugana and Villorba, regularly win by colossal margins. The gaps between them and clubs in the second tier will be that much greater.

The hope must be that bringing this wider pool of talent together will help to overcome these structural weaknesses.

Organising the Italian end of the project is Giuliana Campanella, who is also the team manager of the Azzurre. Beyond her we can detect the influence of Marzio Innocenti, the FIR President, who has been so proactive in supporting the women’s game, and World Rugby.

Full fixtures are shown below.


La Leonas are following a similar trajectory.

Two new squads have been assembled, the Iberians Sitges and the Iberians Valencia. Aroa González and José García take charge at Sitges, Marina Bravo and Juan González (head coach of the national team) in Valencia. The two cities are sited close together on the Mediterranean coast.

The squads:

Iberians Sitges:

Inez Antolinez, Gemma Silva, Nuria Jou, Cristina Blanco, Marina Garcia, Mireia De Andres, Anna Puig, Beatriz Rivera, Lourdes Alameda, Sara Martori, Nerea Garcia, Sara Marin, Marina Rodriguez, Carmen Castellucci, Alba Alpin, Bingbing Vergara, Ines Bueso-Inchausti, Claudia Barrio, Carmen Miranda, Alba Vinuesa, Clara Piquero, Martina Marquez, Claudia Pena, Elisabet Segarra, Marina Benito

Iberians Valencia:

Sofia Ayuso, Laure Tabarot, Marieta Roman, Abril Martin, Angela Rodriguez, Laura Delgado, Eider Garcia, Kasandra Sylla, Nadina Cisa, Elena Martinez, Ana Peralta, Vico Gorrochategui, Alicia Guio, Victoria Rosell, Lucia Diaz, Julia, Castro, Zahia, Perez, Bianca Ruiz, Claudia Cano, Claudia Araujo, Claudia Perez, Denisse Gortazar, Klara Exposito, Lia Pineiro, Elisa Alvarez, Marta Buendia
Both squads contain the expected mingling of seasoned internationals and newcomers to the elite level. They consist of 25 and 26 players respectively, fewer than the 30-strong Italian squads. Unlike their Italian counterparts they include players active in the PWR, (Blanco, Castellucci, Delgado).

The Shape of Things to come:

The initiative, undersigned by World Rugby, is to concentrate the best of the two nations’ players in two new franchises – bringing the cream to the top; but at the same time they are widening the pool of talent. All four squads will be under the watchful eye of national selectors.

They act as an important stepping-stone between club and international levels.

The campaign is of greater immediate help to the Azzurre, as they seek to improve their standing in the Six Nations. But it is significant that WR has paired Spain off with them, an overdue recognition of the unfair treatment Las Leonas suffered when expelled from the leading annual championship in the world.

But WR are not responsible for the way the 6N is organised. Will the 6N board one day prove equally innovative?

The Fixture Schedule:

7 January
Iberians Sitges v Benetton Treviso (Sitges)
Ibrians Valencia v Zebre Parma (Quatre Carreres, Valencia)

10 February

Zebre Parma v Iberians Sitges ( Parma)
11 February
Benetton Treviso v Iberians Valencia (Treviso)