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Top12 logo.svg
SportRugby union
Instituted1929; 91 years ago (1929)
Number of teams12
Most titlesAmatori Milano (18 titles)

The Top12 is the highest tier of the national rugby union competition in Italy.[1] The first Italian championship took place in 1929, contested by six of the sixteen teams that existed in Italy at that time.

The competition runs from September to May. After a home-and-away season, the top four teams play a knock-out competition to decide the championship and the last two teams are relegated. The season-ending play-offs have one feature which distinguish them from rugby play-offs in most other countries; the semi-finals are two-legged, with the winner determined by aggregate score.

Until season 2008-09 the Super 10 was operated by the L.I.R.E. (Lega Italiana Rugby d'Eccellenza, Italian Elite Rugby (Union) League), but since its folding (in 2009), the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) has taken over its organisation.

The leading Top12 teams qualify to play against teams from the other leading rugby union nations in Europe in the European Challenge Cup. Aironi and Benetton Treviso began competing in the league now known as Pro14 in the 2010-11 season, and took both Italian places in the Heineken Cup. Due to financial problems, the FIR revoked Aironi's professional licence after the 2011-12 season; that team was replaced in Pro12 by the FIR-operated Zebre. From 2014-15, one of the two Italian Pro12 sides competes in the Heineken Cup's replacement, the European Rugby Champions Cup; the other plays in the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Both Pro12 teams are intended to concentrate the best domestic talent and help develop the quality of Italian players and therefore improve the talent pool for the national team.


Names of the Italian National Rugby Championship
Divisione Nazionale 1928-29 until 1945-46
Serie A 1945-46 until 1959-60; 1965-66 until 1985-86
Serie A1 1986-87 until 2000-01
Super 10 2001-02 until 2009-10
Eccellenza 1960-61 until 1964-65; 2010-11 until 2017-18
Top12 2018-present
Logo 2010-18.

Originally named Divisione Nazionale since its origin in 1928-29 until 1945-46 season, the name of the National Championship was changed to Serie A until 1959-60, when was changed to Eccellenza from 1960-61 until 1964-65, then Serie A again until 1985-86. In 1986-87 it was named Serie A1 and the second tier took the name as Serie A2. Since the season 1987-88 the Championship has gone into a play-off phase after a regular season, and the title is assigned through a final (several venues have hosted the final match, notably Padua, Bologna and Rome). After a major restructuring for the 2001-02 season, the national championship was named Super 10 and Serie A1 and A2 became the second and third divisions respectively. The name of championship was changed to Eccellenza once again for the 2010-11 season. Before the 2018-19 season, the competition was increased to 12 teams and rebranded as the Top12.[2]

The withdrawal of Viadana and Benetton Treviso from the league has been compounded by club mergers.[3][4]Rugby Viadana, GRAN Parma and Rugby Colorno have merged to form GranDucato Parma Rugby. Parma RFC and Noceto RFC have merged to form Crociati Parma RFC, both new clubs to be based in Parma. These changes created two vacancies in the Super 10. Additionally Colorno and Noceto created vacancies in the second tier of Italian rugby as these five Parma area sides would only now field two professional senior teams between them. All five clubs are shareholders in Aironi. For the 2011-12 season, Calvisano, Reggio Emilia and San Gregorio Catania were all promoted. They took the places of GRAN Parma, Roma Olimpic and Veneziamestre.

Current teams

Locations of the 2019-20 Top12. The teams marked with a green dot compete in the Pro14 league and do not take part in the domestic competition.
2019-20 Top12
Club Established City Stadium Capacity Titles (Last)
San Donà 1959 San Donà di Piave, Veneto Stadio Romolo Pacifici 1,500
Calvisano 1970 Calvisano, Lombardy Stadio San Michele 5,000 7 (2019)
Colorno 1975 Colorno, Emilia-Romagna Stadio Gino Maini 1,000
Fiamme Oro 1955 Rome, Lazio Centro Sportivo Polizia di Stato 1,300 5 (1968)
S.S. Lazio 1927 Rome, Lazio Centro sportivo Giulio Onesti 1,300
I Medicei 2015 Florence, Tuscany Ruffino Stadium Mario Lodigiani 2,000
Lyons Piacenza 1963 Piacenza, Emilia-Romagna Stadio Comunale Beltrametti 3,000
Mogliano 1956 Mogliano, Veneto Stadio Maurizio Quaggia 786 1 (2013)
Petrarca 1947 Padua, Veneto Stadio Plebiscito 7,715 13 (2018)
Rovigo Delta 1935 Rovigo, Veneto Stadio Mario Battaglini 5,500 12 (2016)
Valorugby Emilia 1970 Reggio nell'Emilia, Emilia-Romagna Stadio Mirabello 4,500
Viadana 1970 Viadana, Lombardy Stadio Luigi Zaffanella 6,000 1 (2002)

The leading title holder is Amatori Milano who have won eighteen titles (the first one in 1929, the most recent in 1996) before being disbanded in 2011; Benetton Treviso follow with fifteen (first in 1956 as Rugby Treviso); Petrarca (rugby union club from Padua that won their first title in 1970) with thirteen and Rovigo (first title in 1951) who won twelve titles. Apart from the aforementioned teams no one has won more than five titles. The team that wins the Italian championship wears the Scudetto on their jerseys the following season, The clubs that hold at least ten titles win the right to wear a golden star on their jerseys.

Celtic League participation

Despite rising playing standards and more media attention on rugby union, Italian teams competing in the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup have generally struggled to compete against the established club teams of the other Six Nations countries. In response both John Kirwan, the former Italian head coach, and David Pickering, the Welsh Rugby Union chairman, suggested that merged Italian teams should enter the Celtic League, now known as Pro14,[5][6] and in March 2009 the Celtic Rugby Board and FIR announced an agreement in principle to add two Italian teams to the Magners League for 2010-11.[7] The two teams were intended to offer Italian qualified players a higher standard of rugby to hone their skills. It removed the best Italian players from the top tier league, and it was envisaged that the Super 10 would be a semi-professional league.

On 18 July 2009 it was announced that the two Magners League teams would be the newly formed Aironi, based in Viadana, and "Praetorians Roma", from the capital. As of October 2009, there was a change and it was announced the two teams will be Aironi and Benetton Treviso. Praetorians Roma were nominated in the first round but failed to meet the criteria set down by the evaluators and Benetton Treviso took their place. These new sides will also played in the Heinken Cup and Italy retained its four places in the Challenge Cup, which were taken by top Super 10 teams, become Eccellenza, orphan of Benetton Treviso and Viadana.

After the 2011-12 season, the first for the league under the Pro12 name, the FIR revoked the licence of Aironi due to financial problems. That team was replaced in Pro12 by a new FIR operated side, Zebre.

Beginning in the 2014-15 season, the Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup will be replaced by a new three-tiered European competition structure: the Heineken Cup will be replaced by the European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Challenge Cup will be replaced by the European Rugby Challenge Cup, and a new third-tier Qualifying Competition will be added. The highest-placed Italian Pro12 side automatically qualifies for the Champions Cup, the other Pro12 side will compete in the new Challenge Cup unless it qualifies for the Champions Cup by being one of the three highest-placed teams apart from the top team of each Pro12 country (Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Wales). Select sides from the Excellence will play in the Qualifying Competition, to be held before the main season. Along with club sides from second-tier European rugby nations, the Eccellenza sides will compete for two places in the new European Rugby Challenge Cup with 4 teams. From the 2016-17 season the third-tier is named European Rugby Continental Shield.


Currently the Italian senior leagues are structured in the following way:

  • Top12 made up of 12 teams; the first four go into the playoff stage and the winner is the "Champion of Italy"; the last two classified are relegated in Serie A.
  • Serie A: is the second level of Italian rugby union, divided in 3 same-rank territorial pools of 10 teams each, who play each other home and away. There are 4 relegations in Serie B, scheduled for the 3 teams that end the season in 10th place in their own pool and one of the three teams ranked 9th after a mini-playout. With the same scheme are organized the 4 promotions to Top12: the three teams that win their own pool automatically qualify for the finals, reached by one of the second teams after a mini-round of playoff. The finals, played home and away, are used to determine the two teams promoted to Top12.
  • Serie B: divided in 4 same-rank territorial pools of 12 teams each, who play each other home and away. A playoff stage determines the 4 teams promoted to Serie A and a playout stage the 8 teams relegated in Serie C.
  • Serie C: is the very 4th tier of Italian rugby union, divided into regional divisions. A playoffs stage determines the 8 teams that are promoted to Serie B.

Past winners


Performance by club

Club Winners Winning Years
Amatori Milano 18 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1946, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996
Benetton Treviso 15 1956, 1978, 1983, 1989, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010
Petrarca 13 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 2011, 2018
Rovigo 12 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1976, 1979, 1988, 1990, 2016
Calvisano 7 2005, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019
Rugby Roma Olimpic 5 1935, 1937, 1948, 1949, 2000
L'Aquila 5 1967, 1969, 1981, 1982, 1994
Fiamme Oro 5 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1968
Parma 3 1950, 1955, 1957
Partenope 2 1965, 1966
Mogliano 1 2013
Viadana 1 2002
Brescia 1 1975
Ginnastica Torino 1 1947

See also


  1. ^ "Structure National Championships 2010/2011 football season". FIR (in Italian). 10 April 2010.
  2. ^ "CONSIGLIO FIR: TOP12, IL MASSIMO CAMPIONATO CAMBIA NOME" (Press release) (in Italian). Federazione Italiana Rugby. 21 July 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  3. ^ "Super X - Ready for merging in Parma, Venezia to score reprieve". blogosfere (in Italian). 3 June 2010.
  4. ^ "Yes to Futura Park, Venezia saved". yahoo (in Italian). 17 July 2010.
  5. ^ Top-level Italian exports threaten to damage domestic product
  6. ^ Pickering: We have to improve league
  7. ^ "Celtic door opens up for Italy". 26 March 2009. Retrieved 2009.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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