Towering Italy lock George Biagi claims the memory of beating Scotland in the 2015 Championship will always live with him after announcing his retirement from rugby.
Biagi made his Azzurri debut at the relatively advanced age of 28, against England in 2014, and went on to win 23 caps for his country – the last of those coming against Ireland in Chicago in November 2018.
Born in Irvine, Scotland to a Scottish-Italian father and an Italian mother, he spent his younger years in Tuscany before returning to Edinburgh and playing rugby at Fettes College.
Having earned an Economics degree at Bocconi University in Milan, Biagi became a professional rugby player and after reaching international level, helped Italy record a memorable 22-19 win away to Scotland in the 2015 Championship.
His Scottish roots made the victory all the more special, while he also came off the bench as the Azzurri beat South Africa in November 2016 – to date their only triumph over one of the ‘big three’ southern hemisphere sides – and even stole the lineout that secured the win.
“That stolen lineout, together with the 2015 victory in Scotland, is my happiest memory in the shirt of Italy,” said Biagi.
“I am proud of my career – I have no regrets. I leave at the right time and I hope to be able to contribute to the development of the franchise to which I have dedicated the last seven years of my career, and from which I have had a lot in return, as an athlete and as a man.”
The franchise Biagi mentions is Guinness PRO14 club Zebre, who he joined in 2013 and made 119 appearances for, with 51 of those as captain – a club record.
He will now assume the role of rugby operations manager at the Parma-based outfit, putting his Economics degree and playing expertise to good use as an intermediary between the club and the sporting area.
He joins the likes of fellow Italian internationals Alessandro Zanni, Lorenzo Cittadini, Dean Budd and Michele Rizzo in retiring from rugby this summer but is excited by the next phase of his journey.
“I am happy to keep on contributing to the club and to my former teammates, after seven intense years spent on the field,” added Biagi.
“In this new role, I will be starting immediately with a lot of enthusiasm. I made this professional decision to remain at the forefront of the development of rugby and to put all my experience and university studies at the disposal of the club that has given me so much over the years.
“I would like to thank the Italian Rugby Union, [Zebre CEO] Andrea Dalledonne and [Zebre team manager] Andrea De Rossi for this great opportunity.”