Some of the best Rugby players in Italy and Ireland will compete in Chicago in November as part of a Rugby Weekend hosted by USA Rugby and TLA Worldwide in conjunction with Chicago Sports Commission and Soldier Field. All matches will take place at Soldier Field on Nov. 3
The USA Women’s Eagles will open the match line-up against the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup Champion Black Ferns. Six Nations Champions Ireland will then take on Six Nations rivals Italy. The final match will pit the USA Men’s Eagles against New Zealand’s Maori All Blacks.
Tickets are available at www.therugbyweekend.com.
The following profile of Italian rugby star Edwardo Gori was published in the July issue of Fra Noi.
Born to scrum
by Elena Ferrarin
A veteran of the rough-and-tumble sport of rugby, he prefers strategy and tactics of the scrum-half position.
Edoardo Gori, a veteran of Italy’s national rugby team, says he was hooked on the sport from day one. After all, what else would allow a 5-year-old to tackle and wrestle other kids without fear of reprisal?
Gori, now 28, played other sports — track and field, rhythmic gymnastics, baseball, basketball — while growing up in Prato, Italy, but nothing compared to rugby.
“It gave me an outlet,” he says. “In school you had to stay still, you couldn’t talk. With rugby, you could let go and roll around in the mud without being admonished, as long as you followed the rules.”
Gori plays in the scrum-half position, whose trademark is making decisions under pressure. “The scrum-half manages the rhythm of the game,” he says. “It’s a more strategic and tactical role, rather than physical. In fact, it’s typically the smaller player on the field because you have to run a lot and communicate constantly.”
Gori has been playing since 2010 for Benetton Rugby Club based in Treviso, Italy, and is a member of the Italian national team, with whom he played in the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cup.
He also played in 19 consecutive Six Nations Championship games until injury ruled him out last season. Sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Six Nations Championship is an annual international competition between England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.
Competing internationally has helped him grow and develop as a player, he says. “Wales, Ireland and Scotland are nations that are much smaller than Italy, but culturally everyone knows rugby. There is so much talent there,” he says.
Gori will be part of the Italian team matching up against Ireland — the current Six Nations champion — in The Rugby Weekend event Nov. 3 at Soldier Field in Chicago. Other matches that day feature USA Rugby men’s team against New Zealand’s Maori All Blacks team and USA Rugby women’s team against the reigning Rugby World Cup women’s champion, New Zealand’s Black Ferns.
Gori started playing rugby around age 5, following in the footsteps of his father, Andrea Gori, who started playing in his 20s with a group of friends.
“I got into it right away,” Edoardo Gori says. “I remember I always wanted to go to the field. When things weren’t going well in school, the threat was always that I wouldn’t be allowed to play rugby for a week. That was the worst thing that could happen to me.”
Over time he began to forge bonds with teammates and coaches and began to feel like he belonged to a family, he says. He finished high school at the Rugby Academy of the Italian Federation of Rugby, which recruited the best young players in Italy. He then joined Benetton Rugby Club in Italy’s first division.
Italy has never made it past the first round at the Rugby World Cup. “The World Cup was a fantastic professional experience, but as far as results, it could have been better,” he says. “For the World Cup in 2019, our goal is to get past the first round. But we are facing New Zealand and South Africa, so it won’t be easy.”
Italian rugby has seen some ups and downs in the last decade or so, but the last two years have been very promising, Gori says. In the end, the only way to make a sport popular is to achieve results because that’s what the public demands, he notes.
Gori, who is studying to earn a college degree in sports business administration, says that despite his injuries, he hopes to play for another four or five years. “If it were up to me, I’d play for the rest of my life.”