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Parma Set For Pre-Season Opener

Parma Set For Pre-Season Opener

Italian side Overmach Rugby Parma will fly into Dublin on Monday evening for Tuesday’s pre-season against Connacht (the Sportsground, kick-off 6.30pm).

Parma players celebrating their Challenge Cup qualification

Italian side Overmach Rugby Parma will fly into Dublin on Monday evening for Tuesday’s pre-season against Connacht (the Sportsground, kick-off 6.30pm).

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Alessandro Ghini’s squad, which has been bolstered by over twenty summer signings, take on the westerners in Galway, before travelling to Naas RFC to face Leinster on Saturday week (kick-off 3.00pm).

Parma spokesman Corrado Vecchi said: “We’re very much looking forward to our trip to Ireland. We start the Italian Super 10 championship against Rovigo on September 3 so these friendlies will offer us a good chance to see some of our new and younger players in action.”

While Parma, who qualified for the European Challenge Cup courtesy of a top-six Super 10 finish last May, have lost high profile players – Fijian flyer Sereli Bobo (Biarritz), Italian full-back Roland De Marigny (Leeds Tykes) and Samoan Siuleo Lafaiali (Bayonne) – in close-season transfers, the club has recruited reasonably well for 2005/06.

US Eagles Paul Emerick and Albert Tuipulotu, both centres, have joined, while former Wales Under-21 Luke Tait, who lined out for Canada during the summer, has signed from the Ospreys. Italian internationals Franceso Mazzariol (fly-half) and Nicola Mazzucato (winger) have been pinched from Gran Parma and Calvisano.

Overmach Parma have also boosted the Italian Under-21 international representation to five – Fabio Staibano, Robert Barbieri, Alessandro Chillon, Riccardo Robuschi and Marco Neethling.

The travelling 31-man Overmach Parma squad, in full, is: Michael Barbieri, Robert Barbieri, Tommaso Besio, Sebastien Busato, Alejandro Canale, Alessandro Chillon, Marco Coletti, Sergio Cortesi, Paul Emerick, German Fontana, Marco Frati, Ezio Galon, Michele Garulli, Giovanni Ghidini, Alessandro Giacon, Fabio Gumiero, Bruno Masetti, Francesco Mazzariol, Nicola Mazzucato, Federico Minello, Gianmario Mori, Andrea Orsi, Bruno Pani, Liviu Pascu, Jose Pellicena, Pablo Sciarretta, Juan Martin Soffredini, Fabio Staibano, Luke Tait, Albert Tuipulotu, Manoa Vosawai.

Connacht’s pre-season opener should give them some pointers at to where the strengths of Challenge Cup Pool 5 opponents Amatori Catania lie.

Connacht coach Michael Bradley had added ten new players to his squad for the new season – New Zealand lock Andrew Gallagher, South African front rower Frik Venter, former Connacht number 8 Colm Rigney returns from Leeds, centre John Hearty and lock David Gannon have joined from Leinster, while UL Bohs back Keith Matthews has signed up with the province.

Connacht have also promoted four players – full-back Daniel Riordan, hooker Joe Merrigan and props Michael Diffley and Ronan Loughney – from their own rugby academy.

Meanwhile, new Munster prop Federico Pucciarello is expected to link up with the province soon. The 30-year-old is currently away at Nevegal as part of a 45-man training squad under new Italian coach Pierre Berbizier. The camp comes to a close tomorrow.