Italy and Stade Français Paris have been dealt a major blow with a serious right knee ligament injury suffered by Sergio Parisse that means the Italian captain and No 8 could be out of action for up to six months.
Parisse was injured during an Italian training session on Thursday (26 November) and the MRI has revealed torn cruciate knee ligaments, a hammer blow for Max Guazzini's team as Parisse is one of the key squad players and was back from a disciplinary suspension after missing the first nine Rounds of the Top 14 Orange.
But now the 26-year-old will miss the remainder of the Heineken Cup Pool stages with Stade Français Paris - one of only four teams able to boast two from two after the opening rounds of matches en route to the 15th Heineken Cup final being staged at Stade de France on Saturday, 22 May, 2010.
"The clinical and instrumental exams showed an instability in the front of the knee which will be re-evaluated in the coming days," explained Italy team doctor Roberto Pozzoni.
"At the moment we're not ruling out the possibility of surgical intervention with a recuperation period of between 120 and 180 days."
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.