It’s no secret that Italy are underdogs in international rugby, but far be it for us to discriminate. We’re all about sharing the love here at Manpilez so, without further ado, we present il fratelli Bergamasco.
Mauro e Mirco Bergamasco
Mauro is the dark haired older brother, 6’1″ and 15st 6lb. He is a flanker by trade, and a world class one at that. Mirco, the blond brother, is 5’11”, 14st 8lbs and usually plays at centre. He is four years younger than Mauro, plus a few inches shorter – thus, his nickname is Micro! The brothers were born into a rugby family, following their father Arturo into the game from a young age.
In their early days, Mauro and Mirco played in the Italian Super 10 for their hometown team of Petrarca and made their international debuts for the Azzurri in 1998 and 2002 respectively.
The Bergamascos have a tendency to be a bit wild in their attack and have run into their fair share of trouble as a result. Mauro has, in the past, been banned for four weeks for hitting Stephen Jones in the 2007 Six Nations and for thirteen weeks for gouging Lee Byrne in 2008. Never far behind his brother, Mirco also has his fiery moments, well demonstrated by his run-in with Mike Phillips in the 2010 Six Nations Wales v Italy match which resulted in fisticuffs.
In 2003, seeking a new challenge, Mauro opted to move to Stade Francais and took baby brother along for the ride. Amazingly, Mauro sorted out their contracts before consulting Mirco. Mauro recounted the tale in a 2007 interview with The Scotsman:
“It was 2002 and I wanted to experience rugby outside Italy,” he explains. “I wanted a new challenge, a new country, a new culture. Diego Dominguez [Italy’s former flyhalf] was at Stade Francais so we got talking and I organised a contract for myself and Mirco… only I didn’t tell him.
“We were sitting down to a family dinner, myself, my brother and my parents. My dad already knew about my move so I turned to my mother and told her that I was going to join Stade Francais in Paris. Then I looked at Mirco and said that he could come too if he wanted. There was a silence for about 30 seconds before he agreed.”
Seven years down the line, Mauro is preparing to start the 2010/11 season Stade while Mirco will find a new home with Stade’s rival from days of yore, Racing Metro. Upon learning this, the immediate Manpilez reaction was one of fierce dread, for this surely means that the 2011 Dieux du Stade calendar will be sans Mirco. And yet, we must move on… They may be divided by club, but Mauro and Mirco will doutblessly remain a great double act, lest Mama Bergamasco be forced to turn family referee!
Words by Anna, pics by various.