Andrea Piardi will make Six Nations history

Referee Andrea Piardi will become the first Italian referee to take charge of a men’s Six Nations game with Ireland v Wales on Saturday.

The official will referee the game in the 2024 tournament with the game scheduled for Saturday, 24 February. Find out more about him here.

Related: Six Nations referees

Downtime with Andrea Piardi

What does it mean to be the first Italian chosen to referee a men’s Six Nations game?

It’s an important appointment not just for me but for all Italian referees and the whole Italian rugby movement. This appointment can only make us all very proud,  because so many people have worked so hard to make it happen.

What’s the funniest thing heard or seen on the pitch?

A few times when it’s been raining during a game, players have asked me if I’m still managing to see ok with my hair getting in my eyes!

What makes you angry?

Hypocrisy and hypocrites. I can’t stand that way of saying one thing and doing another. You should live your values at all times.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

Sailing lessons, from my partner, Alessandra. It was something new that really drew me in and now it’s something that I really enjoy.

What would you save if your house was on fire?

My two cats, Robin and Ruccola

Who are your three ideal dinner party guests?

I’m going to keep it rugby-themed, so Richie McCaw, whom I’ve never met, Lawrence Dallaglio and let’s throw Nigel Owens in there as well. They’d all have a few tales to keep us entertained, that’s for sure.

First Italian referee

Richie McCaw at New Zealand training (Getty Images)

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Don’t complicate simple things. That holds for every part of life, not just refereeing.

What was your first job?

As an engineer for a company in Brescia, where I live.

How would you like to be remembered?

For honesty. Plain and simple.

Do you have a hidden talent?

I’m a musician. I can play the violin. I’ve always loved music and took up the violin when I was at school. I still enjoy doing it, but it doesn’t happen all that often now that adult life has got in the way!

Do you have a nickname?

Pia. Nice and simple.

If you could be another referee for a day, who would you choose?

I’d have to say Wayne [Barnes], because not only is he an excellent referee, I would be able to write my life story in that excellent style he has shown in his own book.

What else do you want to do in life?

I’d love to live in the countryside in a really simple style, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city and everything that goes with it.

What has been your most embarrassing moment?

In a Serie C match way back, I was tackled by someone who thought I was a player even though I was wearing a completely different coloured shirt. I resisted the temptation to pull out a yellow card – it was a perfectly legal tackle, just on the wrong man!

What’s the best book you’ve read?

I really like Ken Follett’s books. His Century Trilogy is truly special – I devoured every page.

How have you been preparing for your Six Nations debut?

It will certainly be a huge game for me but I don’t tend to think about things too much in advance, be they in my professional or personal life. When the game is right on my doorstep, that’s when I’ll probably start to think more intensely about it. In the weeks since the appointment was announced, I’ve had other things to concentrate on first – the Italian derbies, other URC matches, Europe. I’ve always been someone who likes to take care of business in the correct order, making sure that nothing is neglected.

How big a help has the URC been for your progress?

It’s been huge for me and, I think, to us all as referees. Being able to encounter different styles of rugby at the highest level is extremely important in helping you to grow and to better understand the game. It’s a fantastic tournament to be part of, really rich in so many ways.

Did you always want to be a referee?

Like most referees, I started out as a player. I must have had about 13 years as a player, from when I was very young until the age of about 20.  I then started refereeing alongside playing, but you reach a certain point and a certain level when you need to make a decision – you can’t keep doing both things.

How does that playing background help you now?

Empathy is such a huge thing when you are refereeing. I consider it absolutely fundamental to our job. I think it’s really helped me to have played, in terms of understanding what a player is thinking and feeling in a certain situation, in a certain moment. I can better understand their reactions that way.

Are there any other Italian referees we should be keeping an eye on?

Gianluca Gnecchi who will assist me in Dublin is an excellent official. We’re from the same city – Brescia – and it’s great to see him getting the sort of exposure he deserves. Federico Vedovelli is another one making big strides, Clara Munarini has been operating at the top level for a number of years and Filippo Russo made his URC debut in one of the Italian derbies over Christmas. It is a really strong moment for Italian referees and hopefully we can all continue to progress and earn good appointments.


Last person you called?

My partner, Alessandra

Last person you messaged?

Gianluca Gnecchi – we’re officiating together at the weekend

Favourite social network?


Last App you downloaded?

Normatec, to help me with my compression device

Last song you played on Spotify?

Ophelia by the Lumineers

Guilty pleasure App?

I love planes and I can spend hours watching the tracking maps on Flightradar 24.

This article first appeared in the March 2024 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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