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Danilo Fischetti set to stay in Italy

By Ian Cameron
Danilo Fischetti (Photo by Tullio Puglia - Federugby/Getty Images)

Italy loosehead Danilo Fischetti has re-signed with Zebre for two more seasons extending his stay until June 30 2026.

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After his time with the now defunct London Irish, Fischetti’s return marks a significant boost for Zebre’s ambitions.

The 26-year-old Roman, who grew up playing for Aprilia Rugby and Rugby Lanuvio before joining UR Capitolina and the “Ivan Francescato” National Academy.

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Now with 51 Zebre caps and 39 for Italy, the 6’1, 112kg front rower started his career at 19 with Rugby Calvisano and quickly making a mark. Fischetti debuted for Italy in February 2020 and before becoming a regular within the Italian squad set-up under Franco Smith, Kieran Crowley and Gonzalo Quesada respectively.

Fischetti, who faced France in Lille yesterday in the third round of the Guinness Six Nations, commented on his contract renewal: “Zebre are a club I know very well. I arrived when I was 19 years old and grew up here. It is a team that is clearly growing, with important ambitions and goals. Seeing a future, competing to achieve it, is an aspect that stimulates me; hence the decision to extend my experience in Parma.

“I will continue to give 100 per cent, or rather more, to offer my contribution to the youngsters, the team and the club. I’m happy to be part of this project that reflects my ambitions: to grow as a player and as a person. This year I have seen a major effort from everyone. We qualified for the Challenge Cup playoffs; I expect to reach this goal again next year and to set ourselves ambitious goals in the championship as a team.”

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Poorfour 10 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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