In his latest column for TRU, Seb Negri discusses the impact the coronavirus outbreak has had on Italian rugby, what the Azzurri can take from the Six Nations and the Hartpury footprint left on the Championships.
We know we have had to be careful
It has been a shock to all of us. It has become worse and worse as every day has passed by. We woke up in camp every morning and it was something different. We were taking those precautions which we were told to take, but we didn’t really think too much about it. We knew we had to just train with the mindset that we were going to play Ireland and England. Of course, it has had an impact on us and it is disappointing it has ended like this. It is frustrating, but we know we have had to be careful. It is what it is now.
England postponement and the wider impact
I think we knew it could be a difficult time after we played Scotland. Things we getting more serious and we headed back to our clubs. We quickly knew we weren’t going to play Ireland so there was a good chance we weren’t going to play England, but we had to just get on with everyday life and we met back up as a squad in Rome.
We would be getting our temperatures taken every morning and having regular chats with doctors. We did have to stay focused, but when we knew the England game off, we haven’t gone back to our clubs and we have the next week off. It is a strange time for us again. First, we have the typhoon affecting our final World Cup game and now this, but we know how serious it is!
#Eyewitness: Sky presenter @jonathansamuels describes the scene in Rome, after Italy's prime minister placed the entire country on lockdown in an attempt to stop the spread of #coronavirus https://t.co/Ru88cZrib4— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 10, 2020
We have had to take more precautions and that will be the same when we get back to our clubs. It has been getting worse and our Pro14 games for March have been cancelled. It is tough to get your head around because we may not actually play for two months. That is a real test of character for us as Italian players, but also for athletes all over Europe. You just have to keep preparing for whatever comes.
It is serious, but I would be lying to you if I said my life has changed completely. We have just got on with things but you do have to take more caution like washing your hands more regularly. In a day or twos time, it maybe different and we might be having a different conversation. It could have a huge impact on the season as a whole and I know the situation is bad in Italy, but there is that feeling that it could start to creep into other countries.
Sergio send off stalls
He is waiting and waiting for this opportunity to say goodbye. It will be frustrating for him, but he is a strong character and will focus on Toulon, however, he knows and we know as team how much a send off will mean to him. It is tough to see where the light is at the moment and what direction the season is going in. There is a lot of uncertainty.
We have shown our new game model
When I said about it being massively disappointing that the Six Nations has finished early for us, it is because we haven’t had that opportunity to test ourselves against Ireland and England. They are both tough teams and one of the hardest games I have had so far was playing away in Ireland in 2018.
Always a privilege representing my country and this jersey. Thanks for all the messages and support over the last few weeks. We unite together as a country at this time and look forward to what lies ahead ?????????? @Federugby #GuinnessSixNations #Italrugby #Insieme pic.twitter.com/6aBATxFFys— Sebastian Negri (@slnegri04) March 9, 2020
We did want to show further what direction we are going in under Franco [Smith] and I do think, even though results might not show it, that we are starting to implement our new game model. It is frustrating because there are positives. There is definitely a clear idea under Franco and even for him, it hasn’t been easy for coming into this situation but he has put his footprint on Italian rugby.
Hartpury highlighted in Six Nations
It does make you really proud to come from Hartpury. Every game in the Six Nations, it seems like you are playing alongside or against someone from Hartpury! You have to give credit to the institution and the players that have come through because there is plenty of talent. I do keep in touch with the guys there and I do keep up to date with things there because they are some of the best memories for me.
Seb was talking to TRU’s Chris Heal