Italy legend Alessandro Zanni bowed out in the colours of his beloved Benetton after more than 15 years at rugby’s top table.
The back-rower was given a guard of honour by team-mates and the opposite numbers of Zebre as the Guinness PRO14 restarted with an emotional occasion in Italy.
The 36-year-old played his final game of rugby without a crowd as Benetton were beaten 16-13 by Zebre at Stadio Comunale di Monigo.
He will continue to influence his country’s next generation as he retires to a coaching role in Kieran Crowley’s staff in Treviso.
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LIST | 5 England players who could swap nations for 2023 World Cup
Sir Bill Beaumont has hit back in the World Rugby election race and revealed he wants to create a law change that would allow Manu Tuilagi and other England stars to end their Test career playing for other nations.
The former England captain raised the possibility in his re-election manifesto ahead of next month’s contest with former Argentina scrum-half Agustin Pichot.
In it he promises a review of Regulation 8 which covers eligibility to play for national teams “to see how we can support the longevity of players’ international careers”.
Based on this, we’ve looked at some other current England stars who could head to the 2023 Rugby World Cup to represent other nations.
We’ve not included Billy Vunipola, as we think he is likely to be still in the reckoning for England in three years time.
1. Manu Tuilagi (Samoa)
- Current number of caps: 41
- Age at the start of RWC 2023: 32
- Did you know: He was named Manusamoa, after the name of the Samoan national team
The England centre, who was born in Fogapoa and came to the UK at the age of 13, is one of a clutch of Pacific Island players whose eligibility status could change if the restrictions are relaxed. He is the younger brother of Freddie, Henry, Alesana, Anitelea and Sanele Vavae Tuilagi, all of whom are Samoan internationals and also played for Leicester. It would be fantastic for the powerhouse to complete the set.