Warning – never drive in Milan at rush hour.
This was billed as an Italy Emerging XV versus a Scotland team and the build up very much reflected how the Italians had approached this fixture. The Italian and Scottish flags were paraded, the National anthems were played and there were around 2,000 vociferous spectators present in the stands – of whom 11 were Scots.
Our preparations had been hampered due to a slight transportation challenge which resulted in the game kicking off over an hour late and with only an eight minute warm up, which was testament to the fitness and resilience of the boys that we were competitive to the end.
The physicality, intensity and speed of the game was most definitely a step up from the Premiership and that is not to decry the Premiership – this was a team of professional rugby players who are on the verge of playing regularly for Treviso and Zebre and who had a real point to prove. Italy Emerging is the next generation of Italian internationalists and they were well fired up for the game, expertly coached by Andrea Duodo.
They came out of the traps all guns blazing and we quickly found ourselves 19 0 down before finding our stride and coming back in to the game scoring some outstanding free flowing tries before ultimately losing 50 33.
While all the players deserve huge credit with the work rate, tackle count and amount of ground covered the likes of Russell Nimmo, Michael Maltman, Struan Dewar and especially George Turner are worthy of a special mention for their commitment to the cause. Everyone at the club should be rightly proud of what the boys achieved on Friday night and we are looking forward to the return fixture on Saturday afternoon kick off –14:15.
We were royally looked after by Biella Rugby Club and a big thanks to Vittorio and his team for being such welcoming hosts – you really helped make this a memorable trip.
Saturday will be a massive day in the Goldenacre calendar with Ladies Lunch being a complete sell out, the Italians coming to town and the internationals on the big screen. This is the biggest game on the club calendar this week end and we would encourage all rugby supporters to come along to see the next generation of Italian internationalists before heading up to Murrayfield for the Scotland v Argentina game.
Hopefully this double header will be the precursor to a cross border club competition with more teams taking part and pushing the standards to new heights. It has certainly given all at Heriot’s a taste of what may be round the corner.