Our profiles of EPCR Challenge Cup Pool B teams continue with a look at Treviso-based side Benetton Rugby.

EPCR Challenge Cup record

Benetton have competed in the Challenge Cup on six occasions, with their best showing coming in the 2020-21 season, when they reached the quarter-finals.

The pool stage was disrupted by coronavirus issues, but their 44-20 win at Stade Français Paris in the opening round saw them progress to the Round of 16. A 29-16 victory over Agen followed, but they went down 31-25 at Montpellier Hérault Rugby in the last eight.

Last season

Benetton picked up two wins from four in Pool B as they beat Dragons (23-9) and USAP (17-7), earning a place in the Round of 16. However, another quarter-final proved a step too far as they were defeated 36-17 at RC Toulon.

Head coach

Former Italy captain Marco Bortolami was promoted to head coach at Benetton in 2021 after a five-year stint as an assistant.

A lock in his playing days, he won 111 caps for the Azzurri and played his club rugby for RC Narbonne, Gloucester Rugby, Aironi Rugby and Zebre Parma, making 63 appearances in EPCR competitions between 2001 and 2016.

Key players

Benetton boast a plethora of Italian internationals, with prop Tiziano Pasquali, lock Federico Ruzza, flanker Braam Steyn and back-row forward Sebastian Negri some of the most experienced in the pack.

Props Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro and Thomas Gallo are both Argentina internationals, while hooker Siua Maile has featured for Tonga.

In the backs, wing Mattia Bellini and full-back Edoardo Padovani have scored tries for Italy, with fly-half Tomás Albornoz and full-back Ignacio Mendy further Argentina internationals. South African utility back Rhyno Smith is a regular points-scorer too.

Pool fixtures

Benetton begin their Pool B campaign with a trip to Stade Français on December 9 before visiting Aviron Bayonnais in Round 2 on December 17.

They then have back-to-back home clashes, hosting Bayonne on January 14 before welcoming Stade Français a week later.