Name: Sergio Parisse
Born: 12 September 1983
Place of Birth: La Plata
Position: Number 8
Clubs: Treviso, Stade Francais
International: Italy (77)
If you asked a rugby fan, what they thought of when you said Italian rugby, more often than not, one answer would come up. That would probably be 'Sergio Parisse'. The Argentinian born, Italian international, has been a collossal for the newbies of the Six Nations, battling manfully as his team-mates were never up to his standard.
Since the year 2000, Parisse has been by far and away Italy's best player, as they seeked to play hardball with the elite of northern hemisphere rugby. Whilst many of his team-mates floundered, Parisse's 'never-say-die' attitude and passion helped them to be competitive.
Parisse, is by no means a one-trick pony, alongside his talent for inspiring those around him, the Stade Francais player is a sublime rugby player. He is a superb line-out jumper, brilliant at breaking over the gain-line and has shown his fair share of subtle handling skills, when the situation requires it.
An appropriate sign of his quality not just for Italy, but in the world of rugby, is best showcased by the fact he is often regarded as the finest exponent of the number 8 jersey. Fine praise indeed, considering players such as Jamie Heaslip, Imanol Harinordoquy and Keiran Read ply their trade at the base of the scrum.
When Italy beat France in the 2011 Six Nations clash, to record their first win over their near-neighbours, in the competition. Nowhere else was the significance of the moment felt more, than on the face of Sergio Parisse.
The captain and symbol of Italian rugby had tears streaming down his face, as he was mobbed by delirious players. For him, it was a culmination of years of hardwork and graft, which had culminated in their finest moment, no player deserved it more.