Speranza 22 will play at Dubai Rugby Sevens for the second successive year in memory of Marco Speranza, who died in a plane crash in 2013.
Speranza 22 reunited their 2009 Gulf U18 winning side last year in memory of the death of their teammate Marco Speranza. Courtesy photo
DUBAI // Any team who has played at any sevens event – let alone one of Dubai’s leviathan proportions – will know that coming home with the same amount of rugby balls you started with is nigh on impossible.
You plonk your kit down somewhere safe, go and play the match, then come back and someone has had one of the balls away.
People would be ill advised to try that stunt with Speranza 22, a side set up in remembrance of Marco Speranza, the former Abu Dhabi rugby player who passed away in an air crash in 2013.
Last year, in the team bus en route from the hotel to the ground on the final day, Marco’s sister Nadia gave each member of the team an item of his that was personal to them.
Before their last match, those players who had been handed items of kit warmed up wearing them.
Rory Greene, the team manager and co-coach, was given a rugby ball. As often as possible, they train with it.
It will be with them this weekend, albeit under lock and key.
“Nadia said Marco told her to give it to me in a dream, so he is never far away from us, although I am always scared I am going to lose it,” Greene said.
Speranza 22, a reunion team of the side which won the 2009 Gulf U18 trophy, will be playing for the second time in the International Open event.
“We had always said after 2009 that one day we would have a reunion,” said Phil Vorster, one of the players.
“Little did we know back then that the first reunion would be under such tragic circumstances.
“Marco is always in our team and will always be in our hearts.
“Speranza22 isn’t just about rugby, it is about family – a family I know I will always have.”
They reached the semi-final last season. This time around, they are also helping raise money for the Mike Ballard Foundation, the Abu Dhabi rugby player who broke his back in a tackle in last year’s West Asia cup final.
“The fact that a bunch of guys have come from all over the world to play in the memory of our son means so much to us and shows just how much Marco was loved by all,” said Orlando Speranza, Marco’s father.
“It shows the true inspiration, friendship, loyalty, and pride that rugby instils in those involved with the game, qualities that our beloved Marco had in bucket loads.
“We are eternally grateful to the coaches and the team for enabling Marco’s short life to be remembered through something so positive – helping others.”
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