Fina out more about Italy back-row

Ross Vintcent won his first cap for Italy against Ireland in the 2024 Six Nations. Find out more about the back-row below.

Age 21 (5 June 2002) Born Johannesburg Position Back-row Club Exeter Chiefs Country Italy

Related: Italy top try-scorer

When did you start rugby? 

We moved to Dubai when I was three for my dad’s job and he took me down to one of the rugby clubs there called Arabian Knights when I was six.

Did you play rugby at school? 

I went to high school in Dubai before I went to boarding school in Cape Town at Bishops Diocesan College for the last three years of school.

What first attracted you to rugby? I couldn’t sit still as a kid and I loved ball sports. I wasn’t a massive football fan and my dad taught me to spin pass really early and I loved rugby.

Did you play other sports? 

Cricket and squash.

Positions played? 

Scrum-half, fly-half, 12 and then all over the backline before my final year of school I tried back-row and didn’t really look back.

How did you end up playing for Italy? 

My mum’s dad was born there and through him we got Italian passports and then I got the chance to live there for 18 months after school to be in the U20 national academy and I spent a few months training with Zebre. I got called into camp for the U20 Six Nations in 2021.

What was it like? 

I had to learn the national anthem pretty quickly! It was definitely a proud moment. It felt like there was a lot of weight on my shoulders but I enjoyed the pressure.

Are you captured by Italy? 

Yes, as I played an A-team game last season. I was quite proud to choose Italy because they nurtured me, it’s a beautiful country with great people and I have great memories there.

Any childhood heroes? 

I was a big Springbok fan growing up but that’s changed now. I watched Faf de Klerk and Francois Hougaard as I was a scrum-half.

Your strengths? 

Pace and skills.


Footwork and first contact carrying.

Biggest influences on your career? 

Omar Mouneimne, Chiefs’ defence coach, Massimo Brunello who was our Italy head coach and Agustín Cavalieri who was our forwards coach.

What are you studying? 

Business Economics at Exeter University.

RW verdict:

A rapid rise from the uni set-up to the Chiefs ranks has made people take note. Rob Baxter said the No 8 was the fittest player in his squad and he’s had some standout Premiership Rugby Cup performances. A senior Italy bow won’t be too far away on this trajectory.

This article first appeared in the December 2023 edition of Rugby World magazine

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