On February 16, the Guinness PRO14 will make its comeback at the home of Rugby Viadana 1970 to host the prestigious challenge between Zebre and Irish side Leinster in Round 15.
The challenge between the Bianconeri and the reigning champions of both the Guinness PRO14 and the Champions Cup will be followed by the Italian TOP12 Championship clash between hosts Rugby Viadana 1970 and Rugby Mogliano, making for one special rugby event.
For the first time ever in Italy, the same matchday will see the two tournaments hosted on the same field.
It will start at 15:30, with Michael Bradley’s side, who will challenge Leo Cullen’s men from Ireland.
Then, at 6pm, coach Filippo Frati’s black & yellow lions will challenge Mogliano Rugby in the dourth round of the Italian TOP12 Championship.
With a single ticket, everyone can watch both games. Tickets can be purchased in advance very soon at the Ciaotickets ticket vendor, online and in stores throughout the country.
It will be the third time that Zebre, the FIR-owned franchise based in Parma, 30 kilometres from Viadana, will play away from the Lanfranchi Stadium, for the second time against Leinster.
The Stadio Città del Tricolore in Reggio Emilia was the venue in April 2013 when the two teams met with the aim of raising funds for the earthquake victims of Emilia.
Then, in April 2018, Zebre’s encounter with Dragons was organized together with L’Aquila Rugby Club at the Fattori Stadium in Abruzzo’s capital city.
Andrea Dalledonne, Zebre’s CEO, said: “As a federal franchise, we believe it is our precise task to bring rugby at the highest level in the most passionate places in Italy, thus extending the offer of high-level rugby, in addition to the Guinness Six Nations and other Italian national teams.
“Our goal is to introduce the Guinness PRO14 tournament and the great potential of the public, of interest and of attractiveness for the sponsors that can come from these initiatives.
“Several others will follow after careful analysis together with the Italian Rugby Union and the Guinness PRO14, in this and the next seasons.
“The tournament board has been enthusiastic about this innovation and it’s supporting us in this direction.”
The Zaffanella Stadium is one of the five Italian venues to have hosted official games of the Guinness PRO14 along with Treviso, Reggio Emilia, L’Aquila and Parma.
For two seasons, from 2010 to 2012, the Celtic League saw Aironi Rugby – the first franchise to defend the Italian colours in the international tournament together with Benetton Rugby – play their own home games at the stadium named after the former Rugby Viadana captain Luigi Zaffanella.
From September 11, 2010 to 2012, there were 22 matches played in Viadana, where the black and silver Herons defeated Edinburgh, Benetton, and Connacht twice.
International rugby returns to Viadana after the positive experience of the World Rugby Under-20 Championships in 2015, that saw the city of Mantua province, on the banks of the river Po, chosen by the Italian Rugby Union as one of the three venues of the Pool stages together with Calvisano and Parma.