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The start of something special

Guinness PRO12 Editor

8 Sep 2010

Benetton Treviso’s head coach believes the inclusion of Italian sides in the Magners League will enhance rugby fortunes in the nation for generations to come.

Treviso kicked off their league campaign with victory over the Scarlets at Stadio Monido whilst compatriots Aironi produced a spirited performance in Ireland away to Munster.

Both sides showed they will be far from an easy touch among Ireland, Scotland and Wales' elite, with what lies ahead unsurprisingly exciting South African Franco Smith.

“This is a massive opportunity for the players, club and country as a whole. It is our chance to grow and influence the future of the sport in Italy,” said Smith.

“Playing in the domestic game in Italy we were attracting just 600-700 supporters and were lucky to get a report in the local paper, but on Saturday over 5,500 people turned up and all the national papers covered the game.

“The atmosphere was fantastic, it was a gorgeous evening in a packed stadium with a good game on the field – the perfect advert for rugby.

“Success at club level will filter throughout the game, right from the international side down to the youth and it is a really exciting time.

“We have done extremely well in the Italian league system, however, we started to stagnate as the competition wasn’t always there and this is our chance to play and test ourselves in a world-class environment on a weekly basis.

“We understand the challenge ahead but if we can put the foundations in this season we can build something very special for the future.”