Wilmslow Rugby Club's Chairman Jon Hitch knew from his school days studying ancient Roman history that 'In bocca al lupa' – in the mouth of the wolf – has been a symbol of good fortune for Italians to the present day.
His decision, therefore, to present each and every one of their entire squad with a Wolves training top, complete with the bared fangs of the Wilmslow wolf pack was particularly well received and no doubt encouraged the recipients to applaud him enthusiastically when he tried a few words of Italian during his opening remarks of welcome after lunch in the Wilmslow clubhouse on Sunday. Fortunately, former junior coach Helene Evans, a fluent Italian speaker, was also on hand for the more serious stuff.
The party of 39, including 29 players, arrived on Friday and trained at the Memorial Ground the following day and on the Sunday morning in preparation for Rugby Union's International U20 championship, which this season is being hosted in Manchester with all the matches being played at either the A J Bell Stadium in Salford or at the Etihad Academy Stadium. Italy will play five matches in the group stages, the first against England on Tuesday 7th. June. They are being coached by Alejandro Tronjon, a former international scrum half for Italy.
Wilmslow are one of twelve local clubs, who are hosting visiting sides for the duration of the tournament. Lymm are hosting Japan and Widnes are welcoming Georgia. Other clubs participating include, Sale FC, Broughton Park, Stockport, Ashton on Mersey, Burnage, Trafford Metrovic, Bury, Bowdon and Aldwinians.
Photos: Italian squad at Wilmslow, Italian captain Davide Fragnito with members of Wilmslow's colts squad and Jon Hitch with Italian supporters and Wilmslow colts.
Guest post by David Pike.