From Hartpury to top Italian job – Negri looks back on year to remember

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Italy rugby international Sebastian Negri reflected on “an incredible year” after returning to Hartpury College and University Centre Hartpury to meet up with friends and former team-mates.

After skippering Hartpury to a BUCS Super League and Championship double last season, the Zimbabwean-born Italian international stepped up to full-time professional rugby with Pro14 club Benetton Treviso.

“Luckily, I settled in quite quickly and started playing and I was able to take one or two opportunities that came my way,” said Negri, who graduated from University Centre Hartpury with a Sports Business Management degree.

“Benetton have made some good strides this season, particularly in the Pro14, and it’s always good to be part of a team that’s ambitious and getting results, so it’s been a good move.

“The important thing for me now is to keep learning and try to kick on.

“I’m now right in the mix with guys that, a year ago, I was watching on TV – it’s up to me to ensure that I make the most of the opportunities that come my way and that I carry on improving.

“Things have gone well, but you’re always going to have periods when things don’t quite work out.

“Rugby is just like life, there are always going to be ups and downs.

“For me the important thing is to keep my feet on the ground and keep working hard, keep learning.

“If I can do that, then hopefully this is just the start for me. It has been an incredible year.”

Negri said the three memorable years that he had spent at Hartpury had certainly helped when he made the leap from student rugby to the professional game with Treviso.

“There is a very professional environment at Hartpury, which actually made that step up a little easier than it might have been,” he said.

“Obviously a university rugby team and professional club do have some differences – because now it’s my job – but the rugby at Hartpury is built around a winning culture and that really helped with the transition.

“I owe so much to this place and that’s why I’ve been back visiting.  It’s been great to catch up with so many old friends and team-mates – I’ll never forget where I’ve come from, that’s for sure.”

Picture: Sebastian Negri in action against Scotland

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