Known as “The XV of the North-West” of Italy, Zebre was founded in 1973 by the then captain of Italy and one of their rugby greats, Marco Bollesan.
City and Country: Parma, Italy.
PRO Rugby Titles: None. Best finish of 6th in Conference A in 2019-20.
Coach: Michael Bradley.
Captain: Giulio Bisegni.
Stadium: Stadio Lanfranchi.
Known as “The XV of the North-West” of Italy, Zebre was founded in 1973 by the then captain of Italy and one of their rugby greats, Marco Bollesan. The club takes great pride in its Italian heritage and the majority of its players are locals. Zebre have as yet struggled to make an impact in European rugby, having only become a professional team in 2012 when they replaced the financially strapped Aironi as the second Italian team in European competition. They are clear underdogs, but play with the typical fire and passion of the Italians and are seen as an important feeder to the Italian national team. This is a team that plays straight from their hearts. It’s written right there on a board in their stadium with the words, “Rugby, Passione Italiana”. Their squad includes former Junior Springbok Johan Meyer.
If you want to sound like a local: Ask one of the players who won the award that week for the most dodgy Instagram post. Every Monday, vice-captain Dave Sisi hands out the award as well as a team punishment.
What you didn’t know: Their name, Zebre, is derived from their early roots as an invitation team and their decision to adopt a similar black and white jersey to the Barbarians. Hence, they resemble zebras.