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Rugby Italian style

by Andrew Jepson — last modified 2008-06-20 15:10

We visit Rome for the Six Nations and discover the one essential ingredient in Italian rugby - passion.

Six NationsPassion! You may have experienced the passion of Dublin, Murrayfield, Cardiff, Twickenham or even Paris. But this is Passion with a capital ‘P’! We're in Rome, the Eternal City, where passion erupts at every traffic light. All this plus the chance to be tempted by all those delights that up until now have been confined to travel and cookery programmes. So, forget the pasta and pizza that we attempt at home, and experience the real thing; produced with Passion!
Travelling to Rome can be a unique experience compared to the usual Six Nations' venues.

Don’t try to cross the road without first crossing yourself!
Don’t think that just because there’s a zebra crossing that drivers will stop! All the skills of the most evasive player come into use; timing, peripheral vision; teamwork, listening etc, and finally you may achieve that try; the other side of the road! Timing.

Stadio FlaminioWant to get into training for the Six Nations? Then head for your local pub . . . in Rome, of course!

English Pubs

Irish Pubs

Scottish Pubs

We particularly like the Lochness Pub (tel: +39-06-5895979) in Via Portuense 94 (Trastevere), which, as well as selection of draught and bottled beers serves hot meals and snacks at reasonable prices.

Real rugger-buggers will head for Il Castelletto B&B, in Via dei Carraresi 27/29 (tel: +39-06- 66166596/ 66166573/ 66148182) where the hosts' son plays in the Italian Under 21 Rugby team . .
Allow yourself at least 2 game times to eat, especially if you sit down. There’s a laid-back feel to ordering and service that is almost horizontal; it’s often said that time in Italy is elastic, and that Italian watches only have the small hand! But, so what? Enjoy this with Passion.

Now, try to avoid that defensive wall
; not the one on the pitch but that created by an Italian supporter who together with a group of friends has decided to block the whole footpath by ‘putting on the brakes’, filling the walkway, and animating his world with hard made points emphasised by elaborate gesticulations, often simultaneous with those of his ‘team-mates’. It truly is a team activity, putting the world to rights!

What will you miss from home? Your local? Try the open-air bars that surround the squares in Rome; gaze upon The Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna, have a leisurely beer opposite the Pantheon (maybe even try to find Ned Kelly’s Rugby Pub –about 5 minutes' walk away). Food? Not unless frozen pizza and Spag Bol are to your taste. Here in Rome you will eat economically (ask a local for a good restaurant). So, what will you miss? Not much really!

Now, head for the Flaminio Stadium. You’ll soon find out one of the anomalies of 6 Nations Rugby. Why is the Italian scrum so average when in fact their scrummaging at bars, kiosks, ticket barriers etc is so well developed? And now, into the stadium itself. When did you last go to a major match and actually sit near the game? And the Passion? Here it erupts like a bubbling Vesuvius - on your feet! Hands in the air! Shout, jump, exchange loud views with all around you, the team, the coach, the referee and the Lord above!

The game is over, and sadly someone has to come second. Now the debates start; the game is replayed; everyone’s a coach, referee and team manager, Rome is alight with happy and sad commentators; what could have been… if only.. why didn’t we…?

Try to come away from this unique experience with addresses and business cards, distribute as many of your own as you can, I guarantee that the friendships that you forge will become as everlasting and eternal as this Passionate city. Do it once, you’ll never regret it, I reckon you’ll come back more often than
courses at a good Italian (Passionate) meal!

*Andrew Jepson - m.i.l.a.m.
(Member of the Institute of Leisure and Management)

Managing Director – RugbyQuest Development Solutions (Northallerton, England)

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