Rugby union in Italy

Rugby union enjoys a good level of popularity, especially in the north of the country. From the 2010–11 season, Italy had two teams in the Magners League, previously an all-Celtic competition, involving teams from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. To accommodate this move, the country's Super 10 will effectively become a semi-professional developmental competition. The two Magners League sides will take up Italy's existing places in the elite Europe-wide Heineken Cup tournament, and four Super 10 sides will compete in the second-tier European Challenge Cup. Italy's national team competes in the Six Nations Championship, and is a regular at the Rugby World Cup. Italy are classed as a tier-one nation by the International Rugby Board. Rugby union in Italy goes back around a century, and it has been established that British communities brought rugby to Genoa, between 1890 and 1895, with other confirmations of games in Italy around 1909. The society that organised the first games did not survive long and dissolved soon after them. Rugby union's traditional heartland consisted of the small country towns in the Po Valley, and other parts of Northern Italy.[4] One version says that Italian workers returning from France, particularly the south, introduced the game there, and gave it a significant rural/working class base, which still exists in towns such as Treviso and Rovigo.[4] A demonstration game was also played in 1910, in Turin between Racing Club Paris and Servette of Geneva

French students also introduced the game to Milan University c. 1911. While each of these events has been hailed as the "origin of Italian rugby", it seems that they probably happened more or less simultaneously and independent of one another, and that the introduction of rugby to Italy was a series of events, rather than a single starting point. Whatever the ultimate origins of the game in northern Italy, the region's proximity to the French rugby heartland helped as well. Traditional sports Several traditional team ball sports, called sferistici in Italian language, are played in sphaeristerium, or sferisterio in Italian language, so also in open playing fields since 1555 and when Antonio Scaino from Salo regulated pallone col bracciale. There are many modalities of these sports: pallone col bracciale, pallapugno, pallapugno leggera, palla elastica, palla, and tamburello. Professional players compete in the national circuit of tournaments and international championships. The traditional sport of bocce is a popular sport and pastime. Cue sports are played on traditional billiard table in many forms: five-pins, goriziana (nine pins), and boccette. There are almost 6,000,000 amateur players and professional players who compete in national circuit of tournaments and international championships. Palio or annual athletic contest is followed very much, because every comune celebrates ancient events in these competitions. The most famous in the world is palio di siena.