Benetton rugby - meet the man who heads up youth rugby at the leading Italian rugby club

Giovanni Grespan spoke with our Italian office about his time as a rugby player, his role at Benetton rugby and the differences between the Italian and UK systems.

Benetton rugby - meet the man who heads up youth rugby at the leading Italian rugby club

Today, our Italian office is delighted to be interviewing Giovanni Grespan, former Italian rugby international he accumulated 20 caps and played at the Rugby World Cup in the 1990s. Giovanni now works with the youth teams at Benetton Rugby, the strongest Italian rugby club and recent winner of the 2021 Rainbow cup.

Giovanni, tell us about how you got started with your home-town team and about your current role with Benetton Rugby.

I started playing rugby at the age of 12, Benetton Rugby was active with local schools and I was encouraged to join the club's youth team, I then progressed into adult rugby and eventually played at the top level of Italian rugby. After my career as a player, Benetton immediately asked me to manage the 1st XV, an incredible experience that lasted 1 year. Afterwards I moved to my current position of director of youth rugby, a role that I have now enjoyed for over 20 years and which has provided me with extensive experience with young players. I supervise the entire youth section from Under-6s to Under-18s and I also work as the logistical coordinator for the women's section.

Tell us about the stunning “La Ghirada” Sport Centre, home to the all the Benetton teams.

La Ghirada was built in 1982 specifically for Rugby but then subsequently extended to be used by teams playing other popular sports in Italy such as Basketball and Volleyball. The centre is also equipped with a golf driving range, beach volleyball pitches, a swimming pool, restaurant and playground for children. The Rugby facilities include 6 pitches, a gym, team offices and changing rooms that are used by more than 450 players.

La Ghirada Sport Centre was chosen by the English national team as its base to prepare for the 2019 World Cup in Japan, can you tell us more about this?

It was a very positive and mutually satisfying experience, and we still remain in touch today with our English guests. The thing that struck me most, in addition to how the players made themselves available to supporters for photos, autographs, etc., was the large number of staff who accompanied the team, practically one person supporting each player: 35 players and 35 staff!

Published: Thursday 01 July 2021