Leonardo Ghiraldini To Captain Italy

Leonardo Ghiraldini will captain Italy in its opening match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup against France at Twickenham on Saturday.  Coach Jacques Brunel will know that the last time the sdie met in Rome in March at the Olympic Stadium, Les Bleus ran out 29-0 winners.  Moreover, the Azzurri will have to do without regular skipper and eighthman Sergio Parisse.

The inspirational Parisse suffered a left calf injury in a pre-World Cup match against Wales.  Despite drainage of a hematoma in the muscles, the 32-year old has not recovered in time to face the French.  Instead hooker Ghiraldini, playing in his third Rugby World Cup, will captain with Matias Aguero and Martin Castrogiovanni on either side in the front row.

Brunel’s boys for this match has an average age of just over 23.  Italy’s match day squad is as follows: 

15 Luke MCLEAN (Benetton Treviso, 71 caps)
14 Leonardo SARTO (Zebre Rugby, 19 caps)
13 Michele CAMPAGNARO (Exeter Chiefs, 14 caps)
12 Andrea MASI (Wasps, 95 caps)
11 Giovanbattista VENDITTI (Newcastle Falcons, 29 caps)
10 Tommaso ALLAN (USAP Perpignan, 17 caps)
9 Edoardo GORI (Benetton Treviso, 43 caps)
8 Samuela VUNISA (Saracens, 8 caps)
7 Francesco MINTO (Benetton Treviso, 19 caps)
6 Alessandro ZANNI (Benetton Treviso, 90 caps)
5 Joshua FURNO (Newcastle Falcons, 31 caps)
4 Quintin GELDENHUYS (Zebre Rugby, 57 caps)
3 Martin CASTROGIOVANNI (Racing ’92, 113 caps)
2 Leonardo GHIRALDINI (Leicester Tigers, 78 caps) – captain
1 Matias AGUERO (svincolato, 36 caps)

Replacements:

16 Andrea MANICI (Zebre Rugby, 13 caps)
17 Michele RIZZO (Leicester Tigers,  19 caps)
18 Lorenzo CITTADINI (Wasps,  40 caps)
19 Valerio BERNABO’ (Zebre Rugby, 25 caps)
20 Simone FAVARO (Glasgow Warriors, 24 caps)
21 Guglielmo PALAZZANI (Zebre Rugby, 11 caps)
22 Carlo CANNA (Zebre Rugby, 3 caps)
23 Enrico BACCHIN (Benetton Treviso, 3 caps)

Photo credit: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for ER2015