Benetton Rugby is pleased to announce that Marco Bortolami will hold the role of head coach of the Lions until 30 June 2026 . The coach, who has led the Lions since July 2021, therefore extends his contract for another two years; the current agreement would have expired on June 30th.
Born in Padua on 12 June 1980, Bortolami began his rugby career at Petrarca, where he played until the age of 24, winning an Italian Cup in 2001. In 2004 he moved to France for two seasons, at Narbonne in Top 16, before being signed by English club Gloucester, playing for 4 years in the Premiership. Bortolami then returned to Italy in 2010 wearing the Aironi shirt, and after the dissolution of the club he continued his experience in the Celtic League with the Zebre, a team of which he was also captain, as already happened with the other clubs in which he had militated.
He made his debut in the national team in 2001 against Namibia, a year later coach Kirwan appointed him captain of Italy in the match that saw the Azzurri challenge the All Blacks in Hamilton. Bortolami thus became the youngest captain in the history of Italrugby; in the same match he scored his first try for the national team. In his CV Marco boasts 112 caps with Italy , 12 Six Nations in which he collected 51 appearances and 3 World Cups (2003, 2007, 2011), numbers that make him a symbol of the recent history of the national rugby movement.
A professional with considerable international experience and great charisma, in the summer of 2016, just a month after his retirement from playing rugby, he was chosen by Benetton Rugby as assistant coach with responsibility for forwards and touchlines. He is a fundamental protagonist of Kieran Crowley's coaching staff and of the Lions' ride in the 2018/2019 Guinness PRO14, with the green and whites reaching the final stages of the Celtic championship for the first time. Bortolami also played a key role in Benetton Rugby's victory in the Rainbow Cup in 2021. In green and white, Marco has over time shown that he deserves the prestigious possibility of being the head coach of the Lions and since July two years ago he has been in charge of the technical area. Last April he wrote a new historic chapter for the green and white franchise by taking the Lions to the semi-final of the Challenge Cup , a European goal never reached by an Italian team. For him therefore a well-deserved confirmation until 2026:
“ More than two years ago we decided to focus on Marco to open a new cycle full of satisfactions, having observed his growth path as assistant coach. We are very happy with the choice in 2016 and subsequently in 2021, because in recent years Bortolami has led Benetton Rugby to fight for ambitious goals, reaching the semi-final of the Challenge Cup. We believe Marco is the right profile to continue to write high-level results and lead the technical staff for another two seasons. It represents our philosophy and perfectly reflects what our club aims for. We trust that he can grow further as head of the technical area and we trust in him to further raise the bar " declares the green and white President Amerino Zatta .
“ I am very happy with the trust placed by the president Amerino Zatta, the general director Antonio Pavanello and the Benetton family in the project started two years ago. I am convinced that the team still has ample room for growth and my goal will be to continue to grow a high performance culture with the help of all the people involved alongside me. Continuing to improve year after year and ensuring that this growth is based on solid foundations to allow the team to compete with the best clubs in Europe is the goal of all of us. Great challenges await us but with the ambition and determination to give the best of us, through hard daily work I am sure that we will make the Benetton Rugby fans proud ” explains Marco Bortolami .