Italian teenager Jacopo Tomaselli spent 10 days in Swansea this month as part of the Ospreys age-grade set-up after impressing the region's development coaches at the first European Summer School.
The 15-year old from Livorno on the west coast of Italy was one of 60 teenagers from across Europe who spent week based at Swansea University during July, taking part in a daily programme of rugby skills, personal development seminars and English language lessons, getting a real taste of Ospreys life.
A scrum-half for his hometown club in Tuscany, he caught the eye with his ability and was invited back to Ospreylia to work with the U16 squad, spending time at a training camp and army boot camp in Tenby.
Speaking about his experience, Jacopo said:
"I had an incredible time with the Ospreys. Everyone was so kind and helpful especially with the language since my English isn't very good. I found it such a professional, high-level environment. The staff worked us very hard but the coaches still managed to keep a lot of enjoyment in the training. This is the big difference I noticed, combining those two things which are usually separate!
“The highlight was the training camp with the boys at Tenby and the army course - hard but great and worth the pain. I really hope I can come back to Swansea and rejoin the Ospreys again in the future.”
Youth Performance Manager, Damian Karauna, said:
“Jacopo attended the European Summer School with his team-mates from Livorno and he really impressed the coaches who were leading the sessions so we felt that it was worth inviting him over to spend some time with us. He showed up very well and settled in with the group, overcoming the language barrier to mix in really well. He showed that he has plenty of ability and now he’s gone back to Italy we’ll be keeping in touch with him and monitoring his development.”
Tony Thomas, Ospreys Development Officer and European Summer School Manager, added:
“The Summer School was established to allow young rugby players the opportunity to enjoy an Ospreys experience and to help spread the Ospreys message far and wide. We certainly didn’t expect to be able to identify young players with Jacopo’s quality, but having seen what he is capable of we were delighted to invite him to spend more time with us over the last two weeks.
“The interested generated by the European Summer School has been beyond what we could have hoped for and we are looking forward to it being even bigger and better next year, when who knows what other talent we may be able to identify.”