Sara Barattin made history by becoming the first Italian woman to reach 100 international caps during the Azzurre’s Rugby World Cup Europe Qualifier match against Ireland.
Barattin started in her traditional scrum-half role for the contest at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma and is just the eighth female rugby player to make 100 Test appearances, as well as the first from outside the UK, with five English stars, one Scottish and one Welsh making up the other seven.
The Italian rugby legend is already the top appearance-maker in Women’s Six Nations history, having played 68 games in the Championship during her storied career.
The 35-year-old made her debut against Germany back in 2005 and currently has 14 international tries to her name but insists she never set out to make history when she first pulled on the Azzurre jersey 16 years ago.
“I am honoured and proud to be the first Azzurra to reach the 100th cap and I hope to be able to pass on my passion for rugby to the next generations,” explained Barattin.
“I never thought of this milestone as a goal, when it comes to my sport career: I just wanted to overtake Michela Tondinelli (87 caps)!
“This moment is for my grandmother, for Serena, who has been helping me with my preparation for eight years, and for the team groups with whom I have shared every single moment, on and off the pitch.”
— Italrugby (@Federugby) September 19, 2021
Her leadership and competitive edge have been crucial for Italy through the years, while her ability to read and control the game from No.9 mark her out as one of the most intelligent players in the sport.
One of her career highlights was helping the Azzurre to an impressive second-place finish in the 2019 Women’s Six Nations and Marzio Innocenti, president of the FIR, hailed her impact on the set-up over the past two decades.
“Sara is an extraordinary athlete and an example for every rugby player in Italy,” he said. “The clarity in reading the game, her technical skills, determination and leadership are just some of the traits that make her one of the living legends of Italian rugby.
“She was Italy’s guiding light in the toughest moments and played a key role in leading the team to the highest positions in the world rankings.
“The 100-caps milestone is just another confirmation of how extraordinary this woman is, without a doubt, one of the greatest international players of all time.
“We are proud of her, her achievements and her infinite desire to continue to improve and make Italian rugby the best possible.”