Zebre will replace Aironi Rugby in the Heineken Cup and the RaboDirect PRO12.

Zebre were originally founded in 1973 as an invitational club for north-western Italy. They will be based in Parma and will play at the XXV Aprile Stadium, which is currently being refurbished and expanded.

The FIR has appointed 53-year-old Roberto Manghi as Director of Rugby.

Christian Gajan has been appointed Technical Director on the recommendation of Italy Head Coach, Jacques Brunel.

The 81-times capped Fabio Ongaro has retired as a player and has been appointed as Zebre’s team manager.