Sergio Parisse’s greatest Championship moments

Sergio Parisse makes his way to the pitch 9/3/2019
Leader, legend and icon are all words that come straight to mind when reflecting on the brilliance of Sergio Parisse, who has been all that and so much more for Italy.

Leader, legend and icon are all words that come straight to mind when reflecting on the brilliance of Sergio Parisse, who has been all that and so much more for Italy.

Widely considered to be one of the best to ever play the sport, the Azzurri No.8 has etched his name into the folklore of Rugby’s Greatest Championship time and time again.

With 69 appearances, the 38-year-old is the most-capped player in Guinness Six Nations history while only Alun Wyn Jones and Richie McCaw have more Test caps than his 142.

Twice nominated for World Player of the Year, his titanic presence, first-class technique, drive and leadership always puts him firmly in the conversation about the best No.8 of all time.

Parisse has been there for almost all of Italy’s greatest Guinness Six Nations moments – and he has now confirmed he is keen for one last dance in the 2022 Championship.

Having been denied his swansong twice before, it would be the most fitting finale for a man who has provided so many Championship highlights over almost two decades.


Parisse has been a stalwart of the Azzurri back row since making his international debut back in 2002, handed his first start at the age of just 18 against New Zealand in Hamilton.

His Championship bow came in 2004 against England in Rome while he also started that year’s 20-14 victory over Scotland as Italy finished the Six Nations in fifth place.

He remained a fixture of his country’s line-up in 2005 and 2006 editions, starting every game in each Championship – including Italy’s first away point in the 18-18 draw with Wales.

The Azzurri steadily progressed with the all-action Parisse at the helm, performances and style of play improving until a historic 2007 campaign in which he was front and centre.

Italy managed two wins in Rugby’s Greatest Championship for the first time, securing their best finish since their introduction to the Six Nations by coming in fourth place.

Parisse started those two back-to-back wins in 2007, their maiden away victory coming in a scintillating 37-17 triumph in Edinburgh, quickly followed up by the 23-20 win over Wales.

The latter saw the No.8 named man of the match, producing a relentless display as Pierre Berbizier’s team came from behind to edge a thriller in Rome.


Parisse continued his form into the 2008 Championship, winning his 50th cap for his country aged just 24 as Italy came close to upsetting England in Rome before beating Scotland in Round 5.

He was also named Italy captain that year by Nick Mallett, taking over from Marco Bortolami, before being nominated for IRB International Player of the Year.

While injury saw him miss the 2010 Championship, Parisse returned to make more history as the Azzurri beat France for the first time in the Six Nations in the 2011 edition.

Parisse captained Italy once again in the 2012 Six Nations as they secured another victory over Scotland but it was a year later when he arguably enjoyed his greatest Championship.

The skipper scored his side’s opening try after just four minutes as they defeated Les Bleus for just the second time in the Championship, putting in a mighty performance in the 23-18 win in Rome.

He was just as influential weeks later as the Azzurri secured a first win against Ireland and their first victory on Super Saturday as Giovanbattista Venditti scored the decisive try

The powerhouse forward continued delivering the big moments for his country, again winning in Edinburgh in 2015 and famously overthrowing the Springboks in Florence in 2016.


On the opening weekend of the 2019 Championship, Italy’s talisman rose to the top of the tree by becoming the Guinness Six Nations’ all-time appearance-maker.

The then 35-year-old No.8 played his 66th Championship game as the Azzurri took on Scotland at BT Murrayfield, moving him ahead of former Grand Slam-winning Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll.

Starting four of his side’s five matches, Parisse would go on to put clear daylight between himself and O’Driscoll and stands tall with a mighty 69 Guinness Six Nations appearances to his name.

Parisse was planning on retiring from international rugby with a final appearance the 2019 Rugby World Cup – astonishingly his fifth such tournament in his 17-year Italy career.

But he was denied a farewell appearance at the tournament when Italy’s final pool match against New Zealand in Japan was cancelled because of Typhoon Hagibis.

The pandemic then scuppered his plans for a swansong in the 2020 Guinness Six Nations and Parisse has since announced he will retire from all forms of rugby at the end of the season.

But having recovered from a broken wrist that ruled him out of the Autumn Nations Series, the 38-year-old has explicitly stated his desire to be part of Kieran Crowley’s plans for 2022.

And the stage is now set for one last dance for the Italian rugby icon.