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Franco makes return trip to Tigers

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Benetton Treviso team manager Franco Properzi made a second trip to Welford Road on Saturday, with some proud - and painful - memories of his previous visit nearly two decades ago.

As a tighthead prop, Properzi won four league titles with Milan and then three with Treviso. He was also a member of the Italian national squad that squared up to defending world champions New Zealand on Leicester soil in the 1991 Rugby World Cup.

“It has not changed much in here!” Properzi said as the Treviso squad arrived at Welford Road on Saturday and he returned to the same corner in the away dressing room where 18 years earlier he prepared to line up against the All Blacks.

What were his other memories of Leicester and the All Blacks?

“I remember the Leicester hospital,” he says pointing to a lengthy scar on the palm of his hand.

“During the game, I think in the second half, I hit a ruck, saw the ball and reached out and a New Zealand boot caught me and opened up my hand.

“The Leicester crowd were all supporting Italy and I was in the hospital when I heard the crowd celebrate a try for us!

“By the time I came back to the stadium the game was over.

“We lost 31-21 but it was a big moment for Italian rugby to be playing against New Zealand in a World Cup.”