Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
2 minute read
16 Jun 2021
8:47 am

Rainbow Cup final: Who are Benetton Treviso?

Ken Borland

In terms of style of play, Benetton are fond of scrummaging and using their physical defence to force turnovers, from which they are quick to counter-attack.

Benetton captain Dewaldt Duvenage in action for the Italian side during a Pro14 match against the Cheetahs. Picture: Gallo Images

Benetton Treviso, the Bulls’ opponents in the Rainbow Cup final on Saturday, may have gone through the European leg of the competition unbeaten, but they are a dark-horse club and an unknown quantity for most South African rugby fans.

The vagaries of the European competition format and the resting of the big guns by clubs like Leinster, Munster and Ulster obviously helped Benetton, who failed to win a game in the preceding season of the Pro14 competition.

They are under the coaching of New Zealander Kieran Crowley, and it is his last game in charge before he becomes head coach of the Italian national side, replacing South African Franco Smith, who is moving to the position of head of high performance. The Benetton players will obviously be keen to send him off on a winning note.

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Smith himself played for Benetton and there is a history of South African involvement at the club. Fellow Springbok Marco Wentzel also pulled on the green jersey of Treviso, as did lock Corniel van Zyl. Michael Lynagh and John Kirwan are the two most famous former players of the 89-year-old club.

Former Stormers and SA A scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage is the current captain of Benetton, who also boast a pair of former Bulls locks in Irne Herbst and Eli Snyman, a former Bulls hooker in Corniel Els and Cradock-born loose forward Braam Steyn, who has played 44 times for Italy.

Second-choice flyhalf Tommaso Allan is the nephew of former Sharks and Springbok hooker John Allan.

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In terms of style of play, Benetton are fond of scrummaging and using their physical defence to force turnovers, from which they are quick to counter-attack. They also have a reliable goalkicker in first-choice flyhalf Paolo Garbisi.

So they play a style of rugby that the Bulls themselves favour, although most people are expecting the visitors to be more proficient at it than their Italian hosts.

But Benetton did push Montpellier, who went on to win the competition, all the way in their European Challenge Cup quarter-final in April, losing by just six points.

Benetton will also have a crowd of 1 000 spurring them on in the Stadio Monigo, which was chosen as the venue for the final before they qualified, but just happens to be their home stadium.