“I thought this was a nice initiative to make touch rugby known and to let people know that there are things other than parties for Erasmus students!!”
So said Marie, a 23 year-old communications student from Belgium, one of the many Erasmus students to get stuck in as the Scambio di Lingue Touch Rugby Association teamed up with ESN Padova on Sunday 16th October for a two-hour touch rugby workshop.
With 18 different countries represented amongst the 25-strong Erasmus crew, sport once again proved to be the most universal language of them all as inhibitions were forgotten and friendships formed under the late Autumn sunshine.
And what better sport to bring people together than touch rugby, a non-contact discipline that requires men and women to collaborate and work in unison towards a common goal.
Founded in 1992, ESN Padova is a non-profit organisation for international and Erasmus students living in the city of Padova.
With a stated goal of enhancing the university experience for hundreds of foreign University students ever year, its objectives dovetail nicely with those of the Scambio di Lingue, a multi-cultural, mixed touch rugby team based in the same city.
With so much in common, interest in this event was unprecedented, with young people from Romania, Turkey, China, Japan, the Ukraine, Germany, the Czech Republic, Spain, India, Belgium, England, Ireland, Scotland, Portugal and Norway all in attendance.
For many, it was the first time in their lives touching a rugby ball, but under the careful supervision of the Scambio coaches, they were soon up to speed and throwing the ball around with joyful abandon.
The high-point of a memorable afternoon saw the players broken into four distinct teams to contest a mini-tournament and compete for bragging rights amongst each other.
“I think they precisely gave the basic information needed for the game and if you had more questions they were more than happy to answer them,” said Selenay, a 19-year old medical student from Turkey.
“They were really kind and encouraging.”
“This was one of the first events of ESN I took part in and I liked this event a lot because I was able to both socialize and learn a new sport.
“If it wasn’t for ESN and also Scambio di Lingue, I think I would have no idea about what Touch Rugby is so thank you so much!”
Following a brief awards ceremony to recognise everything from the best talents to the most slippery hands, the Erasmus students were then treated to a distinctly Italian supplement in the form of the Terzo Tempo – or the third half – a tradition that derives from Italian rugby culture whereby players from opposition teams sit down together to eat and drink.
Needless to say, a good evening was had by all as the Scambio put on a delicious spread of traditional dishes and local beverages.
“They did well”, said Gonçalo, a 20-year old economics student from Portugal, who called for “more events like this!” when it was all done and dusted.
“Watch this space!”, came the reply from the Scambio di Lingue organisers, with thoughts already turning to the next Scambio/ESN instalment.