Sport The rough 3rd line of the UCS and former Italian U20 has embraced a different career from that of Capuozzo. But with ambition. Read the following instead.
If he will not be in the Italian group which will challenge Wales this weekend, the Toulousain Martin Page-Relo nevertheless had the merit of knowing his first summons with the Squadra Azzurra. A call that suggests beautiful things for the future, especially since the Ange Capuozzo case law certainly allows many “bi-nationals” to fall in love with dreaming. Which could also have been the case with a certain Lucas Gulizzi. You have searched in the transalpine selection, this name means nothing to you? It’s normal, the 3rd line of the Union Cognac / St Jean d’Angely has never been called up with the Italy of captain Michele Lamaro, the country of his grandfather. Lamaro, a boy he knows well enough, however, to have rubbed shoulders with the Italian U20s in 2018, as well as the Danilo Fischetti or Nicolo Cannone. Yes, at the time, the Charente flanker knew the honors of a selection in the Tournament, against France please.
In 2017, I was with a friend who also had an Italian grandparent and we gave it a try, we sent our CV by email to the federation. We didn’t really believe it but finally, some time later, I was called to go do a preparation course. Then two. And in 2018, against France, I was offered my first U20 selection. This is, for now, my best rugby memory. Representing my grandfather’s country, against my own country and colleagues with whom I had played since childhood in a club like Louis Carbonel or JB Gros, it was very intense. And even if we had taken a beating that day (78 to 12, editor’s note), it was against the team that would be the first generation of French U20 world champions a few months later…
An intense moment that the 24-year-old keeps preciously in the back of his mind. Without any bitterness at not having been able to continue on a World Cup behind, a real springboard for many young people to take off their career, as was the case in 2019 for Capuozzo for example, or for the Argentinian brothers Santi and Matteo Carreras, now residents of the Premiership. “It’s still a great moment.In Italy, it’s not like in France with our categories Crabos, Espoirs… There, the best young players are all grouped together in a kind of academy and evolve together all year long and have always been.” He pursues : “The players do not come from all the clubs in the country as we know here. And their U20 team is made with all these boys. So inevitably, for me, the Frenchman who arrived from Toulon, I immediately felt that it would be complicated to integrate the group fully and that priority would be given to the locals by the coaches, even if I was very well welcomed. I felt it like that.“
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Year after year, the solid flanker (1m88 for 105kg) of the RCT feels that he must try to bounce the ball in his favor and commits the following season to Béziers, where he initially plays in Espoirs but trains with the professional group. After having played in the military world cup in 2019, where France finished 3rd, the child of Six Fours (Var) returns with additional baggage – at the time of the appointment of Pierre Caillet in stride at the ASBH – and knows that he should benefit from his first cartridges in ProD2. Except that an injury to the ligaments of the knee comes to deprive him of it. At the end of the contract in the Hérault, he therefore joined Cognac to approach this new National championship in the shoes of a holder.
Sport A rough, powerful profile that “touches everything”
Two and a half years later, “Gugu” has recovered from another serious injury to now be an undisputed UCS player. Despite the club’s season, dead last in the championship and which will go down to National 2 next season, the big brown is one of the few elements to float and accumulates a significant playing time (16 games, 15 starts, 2 tries). Physical player, hard on the man and airy, he describes himself as a 3rd line a little “jack of all trades” and who adores above all the touch, which he notably studied enormously with Caillet in Béziers. Another advantage? His harshness, therefore, which he explains draws from his experiences with the French Navy in particular:“I was able to benefit from a volunteer contract in the army, which allowed me to play in a club as with the Navy. And this because I worked as a boilermaker at the Toulon arsenal. It brought me a superb experience like this military world cup in 2019 in Japan, but also the fact of being able to harden myself very young. While in Espoirs we almost only played against boys under 23, from my first year as a senior, I was able to face men. It allowed me to elevate my approach to physical confrontation and combat in particular.“
The objective for next season is to grab a club at the top of the National table and to show that I can also exist within a team that plays the leading roles in the division. Of course, managing to sign for a ProD2 club directly would be a big milestone in my career, but I am well aware that it may be complicated, given our results this season…
Still, despite this fine background, the one who was champion of France Crabos with Toulon must now look seriously at the future. While he will soon come to the end of his contract with Cognac, he knows that the next lines of his career will be written elsewhere than in Charente, for lack of common objectives. Unless Soyaux / Angoulême, current 13th in ProD2, remains in the antechamber of the Top 14 and is interested in his profile…