If you get to know rugby you immediately love it. It is a sport that leaves no one indifferent. The story of the ‘third half’, when the teams meet after the game and celebrate together, is one of the peculiarities that transforms the sport of rugby into a lifestyle involving respect mixed with discipline and excitement.
Rugby derives its name from that of the town of Rugby, during a football game, William Webb Ellis created with excitement of the first “try”. Since 1863, then, two rugby sports separated and have grown under different sporting federations.
The ‘third half’ is unique to traditional rugby, cements friendships and creates unexpected collaborations. The players exchange shirts and memorabilia, and every rugby player, belonging to any category or ever having played, has his own private collection of memories, his own ‘museum’.
Corrado Mattoccia is one of the founders, and is the soul, of a real Rugby Museum initiated in Colleferro, a town of strong rugby traditions where the rivalry with nearby Segni brought the sport to a high level of performance.
Corrado, how was the Museum born?
Like all players, I started collecting rugby memorabilia, actually since 1976 when I was in my early teens. Then in 2007 after accidentally making friends with some of the national ‘blues’ (Italy’s national team) – especially with the Bergamasco brothers – I started putting into order all the items collected so we could show those rare gifts that I started to get from the ‘blues’. Many things were a treasure for me. Then in 2008 after a heartfelt donation by Giovanni ” Nanni ” Raineri we began seriously and on 14 November 2012 the Foundation was born.
The word museum is often associated with the word ”culture.” What is the sports culture? How is rugby different from other sports?
It’s a difficult question, as I could write many words on sports culture. Meanwhile, for me the “culture of sports” is – and should be first of all – a way of life … you cannot create sports culture without living as a sportsman. Example? How can you accept that a journalist can write about sports without ever even thinking about spending time in the gym? How can an athlete who dedicates his life to sport and for sport, even if he did that as a professional, accept that someone would question ‘his labours’ without having a ‘culture of sport’?
In our contemporary society there is less and less space for sport and always too much space for talking about sport. For me sports culture is ‘living’ sports, life is highlighting the values of sport that you practice in your life. If we ‘go down’ into the specifics of Rugby, we must look at passion, respect, friendship and sacrifice. It‘s impossible to practice a tough sport like rugby if you do not have these values in mind. The friends that I have made in rugby are for life!
How many jerseys have you collected? Which is oldest and which the most prestigious?
To date we have collected over 1400 all ‘match worn’ jerseys, those that have been worn during a game. The oldest is one of Maci Battaglini that Bruno Piva, the Mayor of Rovigo, donated to the Museum. The most prestigious? For a rugby union fan jerseys are all prestigious, even the one with which we have played in the most modest club. In the Museum today there are so many that it would be better to come to see them …. Gareth Edwards, David Campese, Jonny Wilkinson, Stephen Bettarello, Grant Fox, Jon Smit, Victor Matfield, Neil Jenkins, Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio, and many others.
What other memorabilia does the Museum collect?
The museum houses more than 15,000 relics: balls, crests, pins, ties, caps, match program, books, magazines, cups, and medals.
What is the role of sport and rugby in particular in the education of boys?
I am a living example of how sport can help a boy to grow. Before playing rugby I was so shy that in practice of other sports I had never taken a shower with the others because I was ashamed … now I can ‘dance naked on a table’ … if it’s worth it. At each level, school sport should have adequate space, at least 6 hours per week. As far as I’m concerned, they should all be devoted to rugby, but I am biased by the ‘three halves’; we always say that “we take them as children, and give them back as men!”
When can you visit the museum?
Always and every time we are asked … otherwise that would not be the Museum of Rugby?!