Giovanni Grespan, head of the Benetton youth sector and blue pillar, escapes the doubts of families who lead to direct their children towards other sports
Parents’ fears, prejudices about a sport little practiced in Italy: a whole series of clichés that push families to direct their children towards other sports, deemed safer and more peaceful. Giovanni Grespan, head of Benetton’s youth sector (from 5 to 19 years old) and former pillar of the Italian national team between 1989 and 1994, dismantled one by one all the main clichés that still hang around the world of the oval ball, and which often leads parents to keep their children away from mini-rugby and then “adult” rugby.
“Rugby is a violent sport”
“It’s not true, on the contrary – says Grespan -. In recent years further progress has been made in protecting players at all levels and for all ages, with the new refereeing rules checking you even if you twist the opponent’s hair, rugby is become a highly protected sport. That rugby is violent is only a rumour. It’s clear and normal for a parent to be apprehensive, but in the end I see that everyone likes to take their children to play. Without being presumptuous, but in rugby, you really experience the sport at 360 degrees: before, during and after the match.
“I am afraid that my children will be injured”
“In fact, statistics in hand, in football we get injured a lot more than in rugby. And absurdly, even in sports like basketball and volleyball, there are more traumas than us. So it’s clear, in all contact sports there is the possibility of injury, but in rugby it certainly does not happen more frequently than in the others. Also, contact is very limited in mini rugby compared to “adult” rugby, so there are even fewer problems. And in general, staying at home on the sofa and not doing any activity involves a lot more problems from a motor point of view, compared to doing any sport, I’m not just talking about rugby.”
“To play rugby, you have to be tall”
“From the first team to the last age group, there are skinny players and tall and tall players, and they are all equally prepared for contact from a technical point of view. Think of Ange Capuozzo, who is certainly not the biggest and most muscular player in the world, yet he won us against Wales and stands out against physically stronger players, and tackles them with no problem. , if we work the technique well, the problem does not arise”.
“Whoever plays rugby eats too much”
“In fact, it’s the other way around. We have had many examples of young people who arrived here overweight or even with obesity problems, who found within the structure qualified people capable of also giving dietary advice, and who in 2-3 years regained their form. physical. This year in the Italian under 20 there is a Benetton boy, Alex Valentino Artuso, who was overweight, was followed in particular by a technician within the company and by the person in charge of nutrition, he lost 10 kg of fat and arrived in the national team”.
“Rugby is little known, nobody plays it”
“Over the past two years, we have had a noticeable increase in the number of players, even after the pandemic. As the gymnasiums were closed, in fact, many children came to our house to play outside, and even after the emergency ended, they stayed because they were having fun. When people discover rugby, they fall in love with it. We are talking about boys who played basketball or volleyball, and who were therefore not even used to rugby contact, yet they had no problem, to return to the previous question on the risks of the game.
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