Parisse available for Italy after ban reduced
Sergio Parisse runs in to score Italy’s first try in their Six Nations victory over France at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. Photograph: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters
Rugby:Italy captain Sergio Parisse will be available for his country’s final two Six Nations games against England and Ireland after a reduction in his suspension for a sending off in a French club match.
The number eight had been suspended for the remainder of the tournament after he was banned for 30 days following a sending off for insulting a referee during a French Top 14 club match for Stade Francais last month.
However, Parisse appealed to the French rugby federation's appeals commission and has been given a partial reprieve.
Italy, who beat France before losing to Scotland and Wales, host Ireland in the final weekend on March 16th after visiting Twickenham on Sunday.
Parisse, 29, was banned for 40 days, 10 days of which were suspended, after being sent off in a league game against Begles-Bordeaux.
His initial punishment meant he was sidelined until March 18th, with Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni taking over as skipper against Wales.
But Italy will now have 93 times-capped player back in their ranks to face England, and then Ireland in Rome six days later.
“We learn with satisfaction the news that the disqualification of Sergio Parisse was reduced to 20 days,” said Italy team manager Luigi Troiani.
“Therefore, the player will be available for the next two days of RBS 6 Nations.
“Sergio is an important element for this group, and we could not be happier to be able to make (him) available to the (head coach) Jacques Brunel for matches against England and Ireland. ”
Parisse, whose appeal was heard today, will link up with the Italian squad in Rome tonight.
He was suspended by French league chiefs following the incident with referee Laurent Cardona, although Parisse vehemently denied he had insulted the official.
His availability is a huge boost for Brunel as Italy look to recover from the Wales defeat, when they failed to score a try and were destroyed in the scrums.
Although they started their Six Nations campaign by recording a memorable victory over France, the Azzurri then succumbed 34-10 to Scotland before Wales were similarly comprehensive winners in Rome.
Italy are currently fifth in the Six Nations table, two points above France, and they will head to Twickenham as rank outsiders against an unbeaten England team chasing a first Grand Slam since 2003.