Analia Pavan, Date: 17/4/13

“It will be a very interesting championship”

The captain of three-times champion XIII of Ducato, Fabio Berzieri, expects a season harder than ever: “this year is very important because in October Italy will participate in the World Cup so all the players will want to do their best to make an impact in the domestic championship”, says Hogan.

Fabio Berzieri, who is currently playing prop in Serie A for Piacenza and is the captain of the Italian three-time champions XIII of Ducato, has played rugby union for over thirty seasons and has also been the FIRL player’s representative, since the start of the year.

Known to his friends and adversaries by his nickname Hogan, Berzieri is one of the architects of the Italian rugby league championship, along with Vice President Tiziano Franchini, Development Manager and coach Kelly Rolleston, and fellow player Giovanni Franchi.

The captain, who started playing football at the age of six in Fiorenzuola and also later in Noceto, where he played his first season in Serie A rugby union as a 17 year old, has also had experience in the Super 10 with Rugby Gran Parma in 2010 and the Heineken Cup.

“I had a wonderful time”, says Hogan, “but in 2003 I returned to Piacenza, got married and started working on other commitments. It has been a year of change”.
Through these changes did you discover your passion for rugby league?

“Yes, a few years ago my friend Tiziano Franchini, who was the FIRL President at that time, invited me to play a game and from there I discovered this new form of rugby that I had never tried, much faster and more physical. After a few meetings with Kelly Rolleston and Giovanni Franchi we started a rugby league championship in Italy”.

Has the Italian Championship changed much since you started?

“We would like to celebrate a victory with XIII of Ducato again, of course, but this year I think that it will be much more difficult because the championship will now have 10 teams who are really well structured with young and valid players. Furthermore, we have also been able to be involved with the National team in the European Shield with some good results. This year we have three very important matches before the World Cup”.

This season will be crucial for players trying to be selected for the World Cup, will this make the championship more interesting?

“I think so, the selections for the National team will come from the players competing in the Domestic championship then the State of Origin at the end of the championship. This year is very important because in October Italy will participate in the World Cup and so all the players will do their best to make an impact in the domestic championship. Personally, I still hope to be the captain of XIII of Ducato and keep hold of the domestic championship, while hoping to have a chance at making the World Cup”.

As a representative of the players, what are your expectations for the season ahead?

Italian Championship

“Since we started the movement has grown a lot, we have highly trained coaches who work with a group of players who are growing year after year, we also involving Serie A rugby union players. In fact this year our memberships are still rising. All the staff of the Italian Federation are working very well, and we all have the goal of having a high quality Italian championship. So I expect a good season and good preparation for the World Cup, while hoping for a call. Of course …. FORZA ITALIA, and we will support the Azzurri more than ever”.