Meet one of the up-and-coming players in Italian rugby

Italy U20 centre Matteo Moscardi

Date of birth 24 January 2000 Born Rovigo Club Rovigo Country Italy Position Centre

When did you first play rugby?

Rugby has always been at the very core of my life as both my dad and uncle played for many years for Rovigo and Treviso in the Italian league. My uncle, Alessandro, also skippered Italy in the Six Nations.

What other sports did you play growing up?

I played soccer and baseball but I felt it wasn’t right for me. Aged seven I moved to rugby and I’ve never left.

The values and friendship are the things I like the most. Discipline, respect and commitment are unique in rugby. To play for your team and score tries to help the team reach their goals is amazing, a huge stimulus.

Who were your childhood heroes?

Sonny Bill Williams and Brian O’Driscoll – two legends. Watching them play was a real show.

What positions have you played?

I played as winger, full-back and No 8. Eight and 13 are my favourite positions as you’re always at the core of the game.

What are your strengths?

Speed and offloads, alongside a good understanding of the game.

Talk us through your progress with Italy U20…

I played in the Junior World Cup in 2018 in France as a rookie, still being U18. It was an honour but a tough one in terms of managing a new kind of pressure. It was stimulating to compete at a higher level than I was used to, and helped me grow physically and mentally. I got huge support from senior players.

What has been the biggest influence on your career?

Not being selected for an inter-regional competition changed my approach. I started setting personal goals for myself, both short and long term, and I’m now fulfilling them.

My family has always been a huge support for me. Everything is easier with your family’s support.

What are your goals for the rest of 2019?

First is getting a pro contract with Zebre or Benetton as soon as I can. In order to do that, improving my weaknesses and strengths to be an even more impactful player.

What do you do away from rugby?

The few times I’m not committed to rugby, I spend time with my girlfriend, Carolina, and my family. I also love being on the road and enjoying great landscapes, so I like travelling whenever I can.

RW VERDICT: The 6ft and 13st 10lb centre trains with the National Academy on a day-to-day basis. His vice-captaincy role in the Six Nations shows he has leadership skills similar to uncle Alessandro Moscardi, who led the senior Italy team 19 times.

This article originally appeared in the July 2019 edition of Rugby World magazine.

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