Sport is still a game: lessons from the rugby field
In Civitavecchia a father referees a match in which his son is captain. One may think that there exists a world in which an adult is not interested in spoiling the result of a meeting between children, because it is not necessary and because it is more important to experience a day of collective joy
This is a small story and like all small stories it hides a big message. Rugby is a tough sport, that's for sure, but it's also a sport that carries a positive message of mutual support and inclusion. The motto of the Barbarians, the world's oldest invitational club, says that rugby "it is a sport for gentlemen of all social classes, but never for a bad sportsman, of whatever class he belongs”.
The Baa-Baas don't have a field, they don't have a venue, they don't have a pre-established squad of players, they don't have a designated coach. But they have a motto, they have a clear vision of what rugby is: a house open to all, where there are no second thoughts.
In this sense it can happen that a referee is a compatriot (or fellow citizen) of one of the two teams on the field, it can happen that the same referee may have played with one of the two teams in the past. All without great surprise. More rarely, it can happen that a referee directs the match of his son, captain of one of the two teams in the field.
In Civitavecchia, in the province of Rome, a couple of Sundays ago Pasquale Ciocci put the whistle in his mouth to referee his son, Damiano's match.
“I always try to keep the designations of his category (Under 15, ed.) hidden from Damiano – he explains -, but in the end he came to know about it. What I didn't know is that his coaches had chosen him as captain. In his team they rotate his role: that time it was his turn. It was strange, but it went very well."
Even Damiano agrees with his father: “We had fun, he was good. It made no difference to me that he was my dad. Indeed, I even scored a try in the middle of a group, but he didn't even realize it was me."
In the end Civitavecchia won the match against Viterbo, but the result counts for little. Perhaps the most important part was the one before the kick-off, when the Cioccis, father and son, found themselves side by side for the recognition.
“I called him lei, as I always do with players – says Pasquale – and I saw that the boys were surprised by the situation. Someone on the staff snapped a photo, which at first made me feel a bit in the spotlight, but now I like it and it's allowed the story to circulate."
In fact, that photo went beyond the chronicle of a provincial rugby Sunday. It reached the local newspapers, the larger ones and, above all, the CNAR, the national committee of referees.
“Many colleagues complimented me and were happy that with such a particular story it was possible to show how much room there is for everyone in rugby. This sport is open to anyone: I've played for years, now I'm a referee and I help out with these kids during training, but many other parents are managers, coaches, third-timers. Everyone finds a role and, above all, respects it”.
Damiano, who has been playing rugby since he was three and a half years old and who will soon turn fourteen, has learned so much on the field, which sees him engaged as a scrum-half, but brings with him many lessons that are valid in the life of all days. “Respect, support, friendship, brotherhood, are all things that I discovered with rugby. I have fun with my classmates, but I also learn. Then of course, it happens to have dad as a referee, but he doesn't embarrass me: he's good and impartial. Arbitrate? I like the regulation, so maybe in the future I'll be able to try, why not".
In short, a small episode hides a great moral: one can, one must go beyond stereotypes. One might think that there exists a world in which an adult is not interested in spoiling the result of a meeting between children, because it is not necessary and because it is more important to experience a day of collective joy. Father and son on the same field, at the same time, with very different roles: a re-edition of the dynamics of the home, where the parents dictate the rules and the children respect them. A great teaching for those who don't know the motto of the Barbarians, or simply for those who forget what sport is, especially at these levels. A game.
Then let's play.