Aggiornamento: 20 mar
After over two years of waiting, the Italia Touch national championship finally came back to life last Saturday with the first ranking event of the season hosted in Napoli.
Emotions were mixed for the Scambio, who travelled South with high expectations but in the end had to settle for second-best as reigning champions Brianza pipped them to the post in the deciding game.
Nevertheless, there was much to be proud of from a Scambio point of view. With three players making their ranking debuts and a host of key players unable to make the trip, those who did played admirably in weather conditions not normally associated with the Mediterranean region.
Freezing temperatures, torrential rain and a driving wind provided an untypical backdrop to the season curtain-raiser as seven teams battled it out at the home of Bersaglieri Sanniti, Napoli's representative team.
For five of their six matches played, the Scambio held the upper hand, scoring an average of six tries per game and producing several memorable moments.
The midfield triumvirate of Alberto Cogliati, Francesco Calderan and Tiago Branco were in particularly fine form, helping themselves to a combined total of 25 tries on their first collective outing together.
The occasion was a poignant one for Cogliati, marking his return to action for the first time since a horrific achilles tendon injury 10 months earlier almost ended his playing days.
Branco, meanwhile, would finish the day as the tournament's top scorer, a welcome development for a player finally starting to show his potential, though in truth his exploits had much to do with the stellar contribution of those around him.
Tasked with laying the ground work, the links on display were a case in point, each one one playing a major role in getting the Scambio to a podium finish.
On one side, the experienced trio of Shadi Firouzi Tabar, Dijana Samardzic and captain Michaela Brandl were their usual industrious selves, orchestrating play around them and putting others into good positions.
Samardzic and Firouzi Tabar were particularly busy and unlucky not to bag a try or two after a couple of courageous dives at the line.
There was plenty of diving from the male links, too, with all three finishing on the scoresheet. Ranking debutants Filippo Bonora and Jose Schiappacasse both slid over for crucial scores at crucial times, just reward for fine individual displays.
The more seasoned of the three - Carlo Pertosa - also grabbed a couple of impressive scores in a superb performance, easily his best tournament to date.
For the wings, try-scoring opportunities were few and far between due to the biblical weather conditions and slippery ball.
Experienced campaigners Chicca Veragnolo and Chiara Konishi did well to dot down for one apiece, but most of their best work was in defence, where they excelled in the wider channels.
The same was true for the other ranking debutant, Chiara Cogliati, who made it a family affair by lining out alongside her brother Alberto.
Competent with and without the ball, the younger sibling stuck diligently to her task all day long and ran some beautiful decoy lines to spur on the attack.
And that was pretty much the theme of the day for the Scambio, who played as a team from start to finish, and embraced the idea of deception on their way to a record try-tally.
And a good day was made better when news came through that Scambio veteran Giulio Carraro had also passed his refereeing assessment following a day of thorough examination.
Lots to celebrate, then, which the traveling party duly did, courtesy of our wonderful hosts from Bersaglieri Sanniti and their typical Neapolitan hospitality.
It all meant for a long trip back to Padova the next day with many tired bodies and a few sore heads on the crowded train home.
But after a two year interval, it was a paltry price to pay.