Monday 18 December 2017


Benetton Treviso

They have consistently been Italy's best club with a long history in the game. They have been waiting for this chance to compete regularly on the international stage but the fear is that, like Italy finally getting into the Six Nations, in 2000, it's all come a little bit late.

Their coach Franco Smith has chosen to reward the players who have brought them the last two Italian championships rather than buy in, and he might find that the long, hard slog of a league competition is too much for his squad where there are no half-backs of real quality.

Based in the Venuto region, up the road from Venice, Treviso has become an attractive destination on the Heineken Cup circuit.


Aironi are in the neighbouring region of Lombardy but are at the other end of the scale to Treviso in terms of their history. They will be based in Viadana, itself a rugby town, but have drawn players in from South Africa as well as repatriating other Italians to make up the new franchise. They have spent more than €6m on assembling their squad and have upgraded their stadium from a 4,500 capacity to 6,000.

The wear and tear on both teams will be their biggest issue, and they will need a few big results to muster support -- the fact that the broadcast deal has been done with a new pay-per-view channel, which will require punters to go out and buy a card, will not help.

Sunday Independent

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