Italian international hangs up boots
NEWS: Scottish-born Italian forward George Biagi has brought the curtain down on his playing career, the 34-year-old hanging up the boots at Zebre to instead become rugby operations manager at the Pro14 club.
The second row’s retirement comes after a seven-year stint in the Zebre pack where he made 119 appearances, 51 as captain, and scored seven tries.
“I’m happy to be able to continue to contribute to my former teammates after seven intense years on the field,” said Biagi.
“In this new role, I will be immediately operational with a lot of enthusiasm. I made this professional decision to stay on the front line for the development of rugby and to be able to put all my rugby experience and university studies at the disposal of this sport and the club that has given me so much in these years.”
Zebre director Andrea Dalledonne explained: “Together with the Italian Rugby Federation we have defined a strategy that looks to the future of the franchise, strengthening some strategic areas.
“Biagi will be a new professional figure who, thanks to his direct experience and skills, will be able to help Zebre develop their great talent and competitiveness even better within a prestigious tournament like the Pro14.”
Arriving in Parma in 2013, Biagi has become over the years one of the mainstays of the Zebre team and he also took the rank of captain from the season 2015/16.
Born in Irvine in Scotland on October 4, 1985, the No.5 grew up in Barga in the Tuscany region where he completed elementary and middle school. After attending Fettes College in Edinburgh and discovering rugby in the Scottish capital, Biagi returned to Italy, moving to Milan where he enrolled in the Faculty of Economics at the Bocconi Università.
During his experience in the city of Milan, the lock had the opportunity to show off his rugby prowess with two local clubs Grande Milano and Amatori Milano, subsequently earning a call with Cavalieri di Prato with whom he won promotion to the top Italian championship in 2009.
His debut in the Pro14 and in the European cups took place in 2010 with Aironi. Upon the dissolution of the franchise based in 2012, Biagi moved to England where he was hired by Bristol Bears, playing one season in the Championship.
From 2013/14, the 34-year-old became part of Zebre, a season that also saw him debuting with Italy in the 2014 Six Nations. He became the fifth centurion at Zebre on 26 January 2019 in the Pro14 match against the Cheetahs and also a prestigious call with the Barbarians in November 2019.
In April 2019 Biagi became the sixth Italian to exceed 100 appearances in the Pro14 after Sgarbi, Tebaldi, De Marchi, Nitoglia and Bernabò. Last March he was also selected by the Zebre fans as the No.5 for the Zebre XV from 2012-20.