Italian legend confirms retirement

Former Italy rugby captain Sergio Parisse is to retire at the end of the northern season but is still hoping to win more caps before he hangs up his boots.

It will bring an end to a 21-year professional career.

Parisse, 39, previously announced he would retire from international rugby after the 2019 World Cup but changed his mind as his final game was cancelled.

In 2021 he also said he would retire but once again had a change of heart.

"I will finish next June," the Toulon number eight told Rugbyrama.

"I know that after 20 years in professional rugby, there will be difficult moments. I know that I will miss rugby and I am trying to prepare myself for this period of my life in the best possible conditions."

His retirement will bring an end to a 21-year playing career during which he has won two Top 14 titles and a Challenge Cup.

Parisse has not played for Italy since the 2019 World Cup and is not in their squad for the Six Nations.

A swansong game during the 2020 Six Nations for Parisse was previously planned but did not materialise.

But he still holds out hope of winning a record-extending 143rd cap for his country.

"I haven't given up on my international career. I still think I'm on the radar and if the coach calls me I'll be happy to answer his call," Parisse said.

"In the meantime, I'm trying to concentrate on the things I can control: my fitness, my lifestyle, my performances."

The Azzurri face France in their opening Six Nations game this weekend.


Sergio Parisse in action in the Six Nations Photo: PHOTOSPORT