Former Italy rugby captain Massimo Cuttitta has died from Covid-19 complications aged 54.

"It was with the deepest dismay that the Italian Rugby Federation and the entire national rugby movement learned of the untimely death of Massimo Cuttitta," the FIR said in a statement on Sunday.

A prop, Cuttitta played for Italy 70 times between 1990 and 2000, including  22 with the captain's armband.

He competed in two World Cups in 1991 and 1995, and Italy's first matches in the Six Nations tournament which they joined in 2000. 

Born in Latina, Italy, Cuttitta spent part of his youth in South Africa where he played rugby, along with his twin brother Marcello, also a former Italy international.

Returning to Italy in 1985 he played for several Italian clubs before joining English club Harlequins in 1997.

After retiring as a player he worked as a scrummaging coach with Scotland, and as a consultant with teams such as Romania, Canada and Portugal.

"Massimo was one of the symbols of the national team who, thanks to an extraordinary generation of players, gained access to the Six Nations Tournament with a series of unforgettable performances in the 1990s," said FIR president Marzio Innocenti. 

"He was not only an incredible servant of Italian rugby and an excellent interpreter of the role of prop, but also an appreciated ambassador of our movement abroad."