Our final profile of EPCR Challenge Cup Pool A sides sees us look at United Rugby Championship (URC) side Zebre Parma.

EPCR Challenge Cup record

Zebre made their EPCR Challenge Cup debut in 2014-15. Since then, they have only reached the knockout stages on one occasion, in 2020-21, when they lost 35-27 to Bath Rugby in the round of 16.

Last season

Zebre failed to make it out of the group stage, losing all four of their Pool A matches to finish bottom of the pool with two points from losing bonuses against Worcester Warriors and Newcastle Falcons.

Head coach

Fabio Roselli took over in April 2022, graduating from a two-year stint as assistant coach to replace Argentine Emiliano Bergamaschi on a contract that runs until the end of this season.

Roselli began coaching with the Italian age-group sides before joining Zebre in 2020. A former winger with Rugby Roma Olimpic, he won 16 caps for the Italian national team.

Key players

Across both the backs and forwards, Italian internationals are the backbone of the Zebre squad.

In the front row, there are high hopes for 21-year-old prop Ion Neculai, who made his Italy debut earlier this year, while hooker Luca Bigi is a 38-cap veteran and captained the Azzurri in the 2020 Six Nations.

The club captain is lock David Sisi, who has made 18 appearances in EPCR competitions for Zebre since joining in 2017, and he is joined in the second row by fellow Italian internationals Joshua Furno and Andrea Zambonin. Flankers Giovanni Licata and Johan Meyer also feature for the national team.

In the backs, scrum-half Alessandro Fusco, centre Tommaso Boni and wings Pierre Bruno and Jacopo Trulla are all Italian internationals as well.

Zebre strengthened their squad this year with the signings of Tongan wing Latu Latunipulu and Argentine scrum-half Gonzalo García, both of whom are internationals.

Pool fixtures

Zebre’s opening game is against TOP 14 side RC Toulon at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma on December 10. The reverse match will end Zebre’s 2022-23 pool stage, with the Italians travelling to France on January 20.

In between those fixtures are two match-ups against Gallagher Premiership side Bristol Bears, first away on December 18 and then at home on January 14.