Heavy rains force Italy rugby game switch

Heavy rains in recent days in the flood-hit city of Genoa have forced the rescheduling of Saturday's rugby Test between Italy and Argentina, the Italian rugby federation (Fir) confirmed on Thursday.

Heavy rains force Italy rugby game switch
Italy's captain Sergio Parisse (R) and teammates wave to fans at the end of the rugby union test match Italy v Samoa on November 8th. Photo: Gabriel Buoys

The match will still be played at Genoa's Luigi Ferraris stadium but kicks off on Friday at 5.15pm local time (1615 GMT).

"The Italian rugby federation announces that the test match between Italy and Argentina, originally scheduled for Saturday at the Luigi Ferraris stadium, has been brought forward to Friday at 17.15pm," a statement from the Fir said.

Earlier, the Saturday fixture was cancelled over fears that predicted heavy rain in Genoa on Saturday would lead to further chaos.

So far this month, five people have been killed in flood-related incidents. Fir officials said the decision was taken following hours of meetings with officials from the city, including those tasked with guaranteeing public safety.

"The decision was made because of the very strong possibility of heavy rain on Saturday. Security officials felt that holding the match then posed just too much of a risk."

The death toll from the latest wave of storms to batter northern Italy rose to five on Thursday as floods and landslides continued to wreak havoc across the region.

Genoa suffered particularly badly during heavy floods last month when millions of euros' worth of damages were caused and people were forced from their homes.

The floods also badly affected the pitch at the Luigi Ferraris stadium, which is usually shared by Serie A sides Genoa and Sampdoria.

The statement added that the choice of hour for Friday's game was "necessary to safeguard the proper arrival and departure of the public".

"All tickets that have been sold will still be valid for the game."

Italy began their November Test series with a morale-boosting 24-13 win over Samoa in Ascoli last week.

But after moving on to Genoa at the start of the week, the Azzurri were forced to train indoors due to poor conditions outside.

The game against Argentina will be the Italians' second in the three-Test November series, ahead of meeting South Africa in Padua next weekend.

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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?