Less than twelve months ago Sebastian Negri and Jake Polledri (both pictured above) were playing together for Hartpury RFC.
This weekend, they will line up either side of legendary Italian Number 8, Sergio Parisse, in the Azzuri’s final NatWest 6 Nations match of the current series, against Scotland in Rome.
The last game of the 2016-17 season, at Blackheath, was the final occasion on which either player turned out in the Red & Black of Hartpury and was also the day on which our 30th win of that memorable campaign ensured that we finished with a 100% record.
Negri – initially capped twice by Italy in 2016 while still a Hartpury student – had already announced his intention to join Benetton Treviso, for whom he has subsequently appeared extensively in both the Super14 and the European Rugby Champions Cup. That Blackheath game was just four weeks after he had skippered Hartpury to a ‘double’ league and knock-out triumph in the inaugural BUCS Super Rugby competition – Hartpury’s sixth BUCS win in 11 seasons.
It had also been revealed in March 2017 that Polledri, after two seasons as an outstanding, barn-storming back-row forward for Hartpury RFC, had signed professional terms with our friends and neighbours, Gloucester Rugby.
Polledri has gone on to have a tremendous impact for the Cherry & Whites and his development has helped the ease the loss felt at the impending departure of yet another Hartpury old boy, British Lion Ross Moriarty.
Having quickly made his mark in Premiership rugby, Polledri was drafted into Conor O’Shea’s squad ahead of the 6 Nations and now gets his reward for a stellar rise since joining Hartpury three years ago.
Hartpury Director of Rugby, John Barnes, was quick to congratulate Polledri on his elevation, saying “It is great to see another alumni of Hartpury RFC gain full international honours.
Two outstanding seasons for Hartpury gained him his professional contract and since then he’s shown what he can do in the Premiership. He fully deserves his selection.”