Evergreen internationals, fly-half Veronica Schiavon and flanker Silvia Gaudino (main picture), have been named in Italy’s 28-strong squad for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017.
The pair boast 145 caps between them and are the only players to have experience at this level, Italy having not played at a Women's Rugby World Cup since their last appearance in Spain in 2002.
Andrea Di Giandomenico’s squad has experience running right the way through it though, with captain and scrum-half Sara Barattin capped on no less than 71 occasions – only seven fewer than half-back partner Schiavon.
“It is very emotional for me to be the captain of the Italian squad,” said Barattin. “Participating at a World Cup is a dream for any rugby player. We are ready and we know that we have a great responsibility to represent our country.”
Seven players have at least a half-century of caps to their name, while three others – prop Lucia Gai, second-row Flavia Severin and utility back Maria Grazia Cioffi – could all reach the milestone in Ireland next month.
Second-row Sara Tounesi and sevens specialist Aura Muzzo are the only uncapped players in the squad.
“I’m very proud of this group,” said Di Giandomenico. “All the players have shown great determination in training for the World Cup. We are very excited by the opportunity to play in the tournament.”
Forwards: Elisa Cucchiella, Marta Ferrari, Lucia Gai, Gaia Giacomoli, Melissa Bettoni, Lucia Cammarano, Valeria Fedrighi, Valentina Ruzza, Flavia Severin, Sara Tounesi, Alice Trevisan, Ilaria Arrighetti, Michela Este, Silvia Gaudino, Elisa Giordano, Isabella Locatelli.
Backs: Sara Barattin (captain), Claudia Salvadego, Beatrice Rigoni, Veronica Schiavon, Maria Grazia Cioffi, Manuela Furlan, Veronica Madia, Maria Magatti, Aura Muzzo, Michela Sillari, Sofia Stefan, Paola Zangirolami.