Blast From The Past – Luca Vannini

Chiswick RFC former 1st team captain and scrum half takes a trip down memory lane

In our weekly interviews with former players, we caught up with Luca Vannini.

Name: Luca Vannini

Years with Chiswick RFC: 2010-2018

Clubs: Union Rugby Viterbo (Italy), Grande Milano (Italy), Chiswick RFC

Position: Scrum half

Current role at Chiswick RFC: Supporter

Most memorable Chiswick moment(s)?

The playoff vs Diss would seem the obvious pick but to be fair I did not enjoy that day much other than for the result. It was the conclusion of a very stressful season which also ended up being my last one as captain. I remember a sense of relief for achieving something that we could have achieved one or two seasons earlier and that ultimately, we owed to ourselves and to someone that had left us too early.

I have very happy memories of the Middlesex Cup win in 2013 though. The game itself turned out to be surprisingly easy for a final (or at least that’s how I remember it) but as a group of players it was probably the first time that we realised what we were capable of. It was the start a very successful period for the club and my first and only cup (cup competitions are very much a British thing, aren’t day?)

On a more personal level, I have very fond memories of a game against HAC away that ended up being the turning point of my first season as captain. When we played them, they were unbeaten at the top of the table and we had lost the first 6 games in row. We didn’t even have our best team out, but we absolutely smashed them (and believe it or not Dave Hill had an incredible game that day…he was on fire). It was followed by one of many journeys back to the club in the car with Rocky that I will never forget.

And finally, there is my first appearance for the first team vs Hemel away, a game that goes without saying we lost. I started on the bench and from very early on I went through the classic Hoiley’s management of back subs i.e. ‘get warm, I’ll put you on in 5’ and then unless any back got injured, you were lucky to play the last 10 minutes. I don’t think I played more than 5 minutes in the end but before getting on the pitch I remember Hoiley trying to motivate me by telling me something that sounded vaguely Italian. I could barely understand English so that confused me even more. Luckily I did not spend much time on the bench in the following years and more importantly Hoiley never tried to speak Italian to me again (he once asked me to go and speak in French to foreign ref that turned out being from Uruguay but that’s another story).

Best player you played with at Chiswick?

Am I allowed to pick someone other than Keith Luckman?

Joking aside, I am not a fan of choosing the best player in a sport that is probably the epitome of team sport (and I can’t pick my best XV because someone has already done it a couple of weeks ago). Let’s say that I have enjoyed playing with a few great players at Chiswick and a couple are being mentioned in the next question…

I am grateful to Chiswick for having given me the opportunity to play with my brother once, by far the best rugby player in the family (hope he doesn’t read this of course). Due to age (and skills) difference we never played together in Italy but we managed to do so in an awful pre-season friendly against Enfield a few years ago…only reason for me to remember an otherwise very forgettable game (we lost 45-19)! 

Tell us the truth, how bad was it being sandwich between Sam Lazy Miller at 8 and Simon Hallett at 10?

I am sure many at the club couldn’t think of a better sandwich!

To be honest, it never felt like that bad for me. Playing alongside good players and leaders makes everyone’s life easier, even more so as skipper when you play 9 and they play 8 and 10. You don’t have to tell them what to do all the time because you trust them they will make the right decision.

They were also quite different on the pitch – Les was listening most of the time but Hallett would always do whatever he wants to do. I had a certain degree of control over the pack but most times I had no idea of what the backs were going to do and that was probably a good thing!

Plus I always felt more of an added forward than a back…just ask Les how many pushover tries I stole from him…

What do you wish to see from Chiswick RFC in the future?

A few years ago I remember walking into a club that in addition to offer a decent level of rugby made me feel welcomed and one of them from day one. I hope that everyone joining Chiswick RFC in the future will continue to feel in the same way regardless of the level the club will be playing at.

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