Ghiraldini brothers the pride of Italy

(IRB.COM) Wednesday 18 May 2011
 
 Ghiraldini brothers the pride of Italy
Edoardo Ghiraldini in action during the U20 Six Nations

Edoardo and Leonardo Ghiraldini will be united by more than just brotherly love over the coming months with the former donning the Italian jersey at the IRB Junior World Championship and the latter at Rugby World Cup 2011.

Born seven years apart in the same city of Padova, they have a strong bond, both on and off the rugby field, and over the next few days will be with their respective national teams at get-togethers in Tirrenia and Cesena.

Edoardo, who turns 20 on the day his brother will hope to be in the Azzurri team facing Russia in Nelson, plays for the Petrarca Under 20 team and is under the tutelage of the Ivan Francescato Academy in Tirrenia.

His older brother, who also began his career with Petrarca, has just finished his first season of Magners League rugby with Benetton Treviso and is the Azzurri vice captain, having accumulated 37 caps since his debut in 2006.

Coping with expectation

“We get on very well,” explained Edoardo, who is attending the camp from which the Azzurrini squad will be named for the IRB Junior World Championship 2011 on home soil from 10-26 June. “We always speak about rugby but also about other things, about our life and our interests.

“Since I was a baby I’ve always felt the burden of my brother’s fame, first at Petrarca then in the national team. At the beginning I was scared, but today I’m completely ok with it ... we are two different individuals.”
 
Leonardo, who like his brother started out in the back row before moving forward to hooker, has pledged to support Edoardo and the Azzurrini on their return to the Junior World Championship, not just as hosts but IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy champions.

“I think that playing the Junior World Championship in your own country represents a wonderful opportunity, especially in Veneto, which is historically the birthplace of the oval-shaped ball in Italy,” insisted Leonardo.

“The level is very high, since many young players are already engaged in the top international championships. We’ll be able to see live the future of rugby all over the world.

Brotherly support

“It’s going to be a wonderful event, I’m sure of it, I hope the followers of rugby will take part in this event. I will be there, I’ll come and see Italy, especially to support them even off the field.”

Italy have been handed a tough draw for the Under 20 tournament, which takes place in Treviso, Padova and Rovigo, with three-time defending champions New Zealand, yet to lose a JWC match, Argentina and Wales their opponents in Pool A.

“It’s hard to think about it, but playing near your home is a fantastic feeling,” explained Edoardo. “We are in a tough pool, certainly it’s not one of the easiest. Above all, it’s not an easy start to play first against New Zealand, but we hope to play well against Argentina and Wales.”

Leonardo, meanwhile, predicts that the “Under 20 national team will reap the benefits of its hard work. I know personally Andrea Cavinato, the coach, and he’s very competent. They have to start from their good performance in the Six Nations, be careful of details, keep calm and most of all have fun.

“As far as our path is concerned at Rugby World Cup 2011, the target is to reach the quarter finals and successfully complete the work we started with Nick Mallett.”