Michele Campagnaro

'Campo' - The Italian Diamond

DOB: March 1993

Place of Birth: Mirano, Veneto, Italy

Occupation: Professional Rugby Player

Meet Michele, Our Italian do’er is a Rugby super star. Since the age of six he has been playing rugby with his brothers in the back garden of his home to become the highly-popular Italian international he is now. Renowned for being a tough-tackling centre, Campagnaro has settled well to life and has taken his own game to new levels since playing for the Exeter Chiefs. There is more to him than strong as steel tackles, silky skills, a turn of pace like a leopard and the finishing power of a volcano. Discover how this Italian diamond keeps coming back, even after breaking his knee twice in his career. This resilient do’er is born for the top.

"“Follow your dream, follow your passion. Even if you don’t play at the top, do what you like because that’s the best feeling in the world.”"

When and how did you start playing Rugby?

My father and uncle used to play, we had four brothers in our family so my older brother started playing rugby and I was fascinated by the sport. I wanted to do the same, I started when I was six years old and I never stopped. I was inspired by my big brother.

How did you make it from playing for fun to the professional level?

In Italy it’s quite different, we have only Rugby for clubs, so we don’t learn rugby at school. I used to play in the garden, train and practice and I went to a club for selection. Then I made it through the county selection, from there I made it to another county selection and after one year my professional career started, playing for Treviso. I was 18 and as soon as I signed I broke my knee, it was not ideal. I went through a dark time, so this is the second time I broke my knee.

You went through a dark period when you broke your knee at the start of your career, now you have an injury again. How do you get through periods like this, when you can’t do what you love so much?

I went through a dark moment and the people around me support me like the physiotherapist and the strength and conditioning coach; they help me a lot. My teammates are all doing what they love, while I was constantly in the gym thinking about getting better. It’s such a long period and it is tough, but I do my best to stay positive and it helps that I have been through this before.

"Even when the pressure is on in championship games or the premiership, I still have that feeling of freedom and fun. This is why I play."

"Even when the pressure is on in championship games or the premiership, I still have that feeling of freedom and fun. This is why I play."

How does rugby make you feel when you play?

When you get injured there is always the worry that it might happen again. But as soon as you are out there playing rugby it is like a feeling I can’t really explain to you. You think about nothing, you just enjoy playing with your teammates. This is what drives me.

How does it feel to score in a stadium full of people?

I play for Italy, which is not the best team in the world but we are getting better. When all 80,000 people in the stadium are watching and cheering you on, it makes you feel like you can fly. It’s something you can’t describe and I do miss it when I am injured as it’s so much fun.

Do you have other ways to get to this feeling of freedom now you are injured?

I like nature and outdoor sport. When I am not playing rugby I do things that give me the same feeling. When I was younger I did a lot of skiing, snowboarding and climbing. But because I am a professional rugby player now I can’t really do that anymore. Especially since I am in England! There are a few beaches here where you can surf and when I am free I love to go there into the sea. It’s so peaceful and free.

Can you compare the feeling you have on a snowboard or surfboard to what you have in a rugby stadium?

They are two different kinds of feelings, but they connect to the same quality of feeling free. To be out there playing rugby is a different feeling of freedom.

"I need the moment to be by myself, feeling freedom, and I need the moment to be out there playing with my team."

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