The Museum of Rugby and us have created an initiative to show the role of art in the sport of rugby, with a function at Mauro Bergamasco’s summer school for young rugby players in Cavallino (about an hour either by swimming or driving from Venice!).
A sport can be differentiated when that sport enters the daily lifestyle and sports teachers become teachers of life. In rugby, encroachment of sport into everyday life is palpable from the behaviour of the players as well as from the fans and the supporters. The “third half” is the perfect example of this link between sport and everyday life. It is the time after the game in which the rivalry so palpably expressed on the field turns into light hearted fun and becomes an opportunity to be reminded of the true meaning of games and of life.
And it is perhaps for this reason that, in his summer school, Mauro Bergamasco, the Italian international rugby player, asked the Museum of Rugby in Artena to give a daily one-hour lesson to the young players. Corrado Mattoccia, President of the Museum of Rugby, hung an exhibition of a range of the museum’s over 1000 jerseys, ones specially selected for the occasion, and when we asked him what he spoke about during his lecture, he replied: “History and geography! Each jersey from the Museum of Rugby was worn by a player during an important match somewhere in the world, then I tell the story and ask questions about the specific countries and on relevant historical events.”
To give an example of what led to the vision, he explained the “ghost jersey”, that of a true legend of the Rugby World, Gareth Edwards. The youngest captain of all time of the Welsh Red Dragons, with 53 consecutive caps of Wales, he scored what is still considered the most beautiful try of all time. In the dark years of apartheid, South African teams were banned from the rest of the world to protest against white racism. No rugby team could agree to play against a South African XV. But in 1978 a team from a South African college asked and got to play a game in Wales, near Neath, home of the oldest Welsh club. The game was played “in secret.” Edwards was on the field in the ranks of Neath. He wore the black shirt on that one occasion.
Another example from the Mueseum of Rugby is the importance of rugby in the history of Ireland. Rugby was the only sport in which teams competed from both Ulster and Ireland.
With this background and in adherence to our initiative and the goals of the Museum of Rugby, being rapprochement between culture, life, art and sport, we found ourselves in Cavallino near Jesolo in early summer. Following suggestions by the artist and ceramic artisans, Giuseppe and Alessandro Facchinello, on how to emphasize the link between art and sport through sport trophies and collectibles, we brought ceramic rugby balls they had made, in variegated colours and sizes. In front of all the kids and staff, some players stamped their hands in coloured glaze, leaving their “signature” on the oval ball.
Arturo and Mauro Bergamasco, Andrea de Rossi, Cinzia Cavazzuti, Davide Giazzon, Corrado Mattoccia, Francesco Tognon, Claudia Bettiol, Samuel Piazzolla, Alessio D’Aniello, Emma Stevanin, Edoardo Sommacal and Pietro Casarin have marked this historic ball that was then fired in the pottery oven by Alessandro Facchinello and subsequently donated to the Museum of Rugby.