The Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) announced today that ‘Zebre’ (Zebras) are the new team to replace Aironi Rugby in the Rabodirect PRO12 and Heineken Cup for the 2012/13 season.
Zebre were originally founded in 1973 as an invitational club for north western Italy. The FIR announced as well that Zebre will be based and will play in Parma, at the XXV Aprile Stadium which is currently being refurbished and expanded.
The Italian Federation have appointed the 53-year-old Roberto Manghi as Zebre’s director of rugby.
Manghi, moving from Rugby Reggio, was general manager with Gran Parma and Rugby Parma, reaching the Eccellenza Championship semi-finals with both clubs.
Christian Gajan has been appointed as the technical director for Zebre on the recommendation of Italy head coach Jacques Brunel.
The Frenchman has a strong knowledge of the Italian rugby scene having coached Benetton Treviso from 1998 to 2000 and VeneziaMestre during the 2008/09 campaign.
Gajan also coached at Toulouse and Castres Olympique, winning the European Shield in 2003 with Castres. He will be assisted by Vincenzo Troiani and Alessandro Troncon as coaches.
Troiani reached the Eccellenza semi-finals as a head coach in the 2005/06 season, winning the Italian Cup in the same year. He then coached the Italy Under-18s and Under-20s and was part of the technical staff at the U-18 and U-20 national academies.
Troncon, the most-capped Italian player of all-time with 101 appearances, hung up his boots in 2007 and was then appointed as Italy backs coach, a position he held until the end of the 2012 RBS 6 Nations.
Fabio Ongaro, the 81-times capped Italy hooker, announced his retirement from rugby today and was swiftly appointed Zebre’s team manager.
Massimo Zaghini, who is currently on duty with the Italian U-20s at the IRB Junior World Championship, will be the fitness and conditioning coach at Zebre.
He covered the same position with the Under-20 national academy this year and took part in Italy’s 2011 Rugby World Cup preparations as Alex Marco’s assistant.
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