Parisse available for England clash
Italy captain Sergio Parisse will be available for his country's RBS 6 Nations clash against England at Twickenham on Sunday.
Italy team manager Luigi Troiani has confirmed that Parisse's suspension for insulting the referee in a French league game last month had been reduced to 20 days on appeal. And that means he can return to action this weekend after missing Italy's 26-9 home loss against Wales 11 days ago.
Parisse, 29, was banned for 40 days - 10 days of which were suspended - after being sent off in a Top 14 fixture between his club Stade Francais and Bordeaux-Begles.
His initial punishment meant he was sidelined until March 18, with Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni taking over as skipper against Wales. But the Azzurri will now have 93 times-capped number eight Parisse back in their ranks to face England, and then Ireland in Rome six days later.
"We learn with satisfaction the news that the disqualification of Sergio Parisse was reduced to 20 days," Troiani told the Italian Rugby Federation's official website.
"Therefore, the player will be available for the next two days of RBS 6 Nations. Sergio is an important element for this group, and we could not be happier to be able to make (him) available to the (head coach) Jacques Brunel for matches against England and Ireland. "
Parisse, whose appeal was heard on Wednesday, will now link up with the Italian squad in Rome. He was suspended by French league chiefs following the incident with referee Laurent Cardona, although Parisse vehemently denied he had insulted the official.
His availability is a huge boost for Brunel as Italy look to recover from the Wales defeat, when they failed to score a try and were destroyed in the scrums.
Although they started their Six Nations campaign by recording a memorable victory over France, the Azzurri then succumbed 34-10 to Scotland before Wales were similarly comprehensive winners in Rome.
Italy are currently fifth in the Six Nations table, two points above France, and they will head to Twickenham as rank outsiders against an unbeaten England team chasing a first Grand Slam since 2003.