The growth of Italian rugby continues with the announcement that five new teams will join Serie A for 2015/16 season, starting on the 5th October, expanding the league from 14 to 18 clubs overall.
This season eighteen teams will take part, divided - according to geographical criteria (to reduce travel costs) - into two groups of nine teams each, who will compete in the first stage with the Italian championship which will run until May 1.
The top three teams will then enter a play-off phase, leading to a final over the weekend of 4th/ 5th June 2016.
There are five teams that will debut in the top division women:
- Chicken 2012 Rugby*
- Rugby Cogoleto & Prov. Ovest,
- Frascati 2015 Rugby Club,
- Rugby Club i Medici
- Donne Etruscan Rugby.
As the above map (thank you, Canalina) shows, one result is that women’s rugby – which until a few years ago was general confined to Rome and the north the country – has now spread down most of the peninsula. All of the major cities - Milan, Turin, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Genoa, Venice, Naples – now have at least one team within their boundaries or very nearby.
Many of the new clubs have grown into fifteens from sevens, perhaps demonstrating that sevens can be a gateway into the full form of the game. However undoubtedly the improved performances and consequent media coverage given to the national team in recent years (including two wins over France in the past three years, and a best-ever Six Nations in 2015) will have had an effect.
The defending champions this year are Valsu from Padua, who will meet Rugby Casale in their opening fixture.
The games on the opening day of competition will be:
- Chicken 2012 Rugby - Asd Rugby Monza 1949
- R. Colorno F.C. Asd - Benetton R.Treviso
- Rugby Casale Asd - Valsugana R. Padova Asd
- R.Cogoleto&Prov.Ovest - Cus Torino Rugby Asd
- Bye: Rugby Riviera 1975
- Umbria Rugby Ragazze - Frascati R. Club 2015
- C.U.S.Roma Rugby - Rugby Club I Medicei
- R. Belve Neroverdi – Caravaggio S.V. Benevento
- Donne Etrusche Rugby - Rugby Bologna 1928
- Bye: R. Citta' Di Frascati
*Not a misprint or mistranslation - this really IS their name!