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Bassano 2023 - Round-up

The Scambio di Lingue touch rugby team that competed in the IT championship leg in Bassano in April 2023

Boldly becoming the best after the tournament in Napoli was beyond the bounds of many of the brilliant brains of the Scambio. Would this belief-breaking blessing become a burden as we burrow deep into the back end of the season?

Bassano is basically becoming a battleground for besting our belligerent buddies in the ranking championship. However, back-breaking efforts would be the bare bones if we were to beat the best in the business that day. I’ll stop now…

Expectations are naturally high. Other teams are highly aware of the danger we now pose when it comes to these tournaments, and we ourselves are just as aware of what can be achieved when we play to our full potential.

However, a chronic lack of ‘mids’ this season has meant that we rarely have a full-strength team available for selection. In any case, the overall goal was still the same as ever: win.

The group stages saw the Scambio front up against the Black Devils (Varese), I Griffoni (Thiene), and the Treviso Knights. The performances left much to be desired but a strong defensive display, particularly from the girls out on the wing, held the opposition at bay, allowing the team to pick up wins with relatively few tries being scored.

As coach for the day, it was promising to see that, even when the attack was maybe not quite as dangerous as it could have been, the team’s defensive efforts were often so effective that the opposition found themselves taking the last touch closer to the halfway line rather than our try line.

This year the Scambio has been cursed with an unusually high number of serious injuries and, after the first three games, it was time for some more worrying injury news. Alberto’s Achille’s tendon was playing up and there was little point in risking making things worse, and after an inspection from the pitch-side physio, it was game over for the captain, who was then forced to take on the role of manager as the Scambio prepared for the knockout stage.

Having started the tournament with just two full-time mids, we were left with little choice but to reorganise the formation. We had to adapt and we had to do it quickly, and, taking to the field against the Turt…torti…turtolo…the team from Modena, there was a sense of uncharted territory as we lined up with a male-female mid combo, not to mention a male player out on the wing.

Luckily for us, our girls this year have shown that they are up for any challenge thrown their way, and between Anna’s athleticism and Shadi’s understanding of the game, the team was in good hands. Zampi’s efforts in the middle of the park were also glorious to watch as he and Shadi dismantled the defence multiple times with apparent ease. A solid defence, tries from Chiara C, and the continuing avalanche of tries from the returning Alessia, who showed how devasting a wing can be, ensured a place in the semi-finals against a strong Verona team.

This was never going to be an easy match. We know what to expect from Verona and that we must be at our best to take them down. The close game down in Napoli just a month previously had demonstrated this perfectly. In the end, we came away with our heads held high despite a 3-1 defeat, having displayed true grit, calm heads and with the girls once again showing their prowess on the field.

This left us in a 3rd 4th playoff with the hosts ‘Mezzi e Mezzi’. Another team we know well, and a match we knew was not going to prove easy. Tired legs and the new formation meant that the team from Bassano had strong chance to take us down on their home ground. After winning the toss, newly self-appointed team manager Alberto (Rana), decided to make sure that we would start with the ball in the event of a drop-off (a kind of sudden death) and twenty minutes later, with the score tied at 3-3, that’s exactly where we found ourselves.

Drop offs are fast, tense, and can often be over before they begin. We knew we had to strike first and then pull off a strong defensive set to seal the victory. A perfectly executed 32 with Suriani at dummy-half allowed us to achieve step one within the first six touches and, as had been the case almost all day, our defense proved too strong for the opposition, allowing us to come away with a well earned 3rd place when all was said and done.

Despite not winning, the team can be proud of this performance. Players like Giovanni, Giulio M and Amine showed versatility, speed and determination. Filippo and Zampi stepped up again at the last minute, highlighting their ability to adapt and react to a dramatically different role. And the girls, all of them, were outstanding.

Changing roles and going well out of comfort zone was a chance for us to see the game from another perspective, to understand what the game is like for others, and an opportunity to grow as players. An opportunity everyone took firmly in two hands.

In the coming months, this experience could just prove vital.

Onwards and upwards.

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