I got Balls

Petrarca Padova Rugby Club player and former Auckland Grammar School international student, Federico Ponzi, is now studying at Languages International and playing for Ponsonby Rugby Club.

Italian rugby player, Federico Ponzi, is taking an English for University and IELTS preparation course to hone his academic writing skills, achieve his goal of IELTS 7.0, and gain entry to an English-medium university.

It all started when Federico was 10.  A friend’s brother who played club rugby inspired him to take up the sport, and Federico fell in love with the game.  He showed promise, and was soon invited to play for local clubs.  By the time he was 16, he was playing for Petrarca Padova Rugby Club, one of the oldest and most important clubs in Italy. He’s now 18, and over the past 8 years, Federico has played for 7 clubs, 4 in Italy and 3 in NZ.

“NZ rugby is different from Italian rugby.  It’s like another game.  In Italy, we play a faster game – with more runs.  In NZ, players tackle each other a lot.” he says.  Federico has gotten used to the NZ style of play.

Rugby is not popular in Italy, where soccer is the national game, but soccer has never appealed to Federico; rugby is more his style.

“Rugby’s not like soccer.” says Federico, “You can’t fake in rugby, and if you did try it on, your teammates would make fun of you.  In rugby, you have to fight for something.  It’s a tougher game.”

Federico remembers plenty of occasions when he or a teammate has played injured like the time he took an elbow to the nose, and despite a blood-soaked shirt, played on.  In the heat of the game, you don’t notice the pain, he says.  That spirit of resilience, inherent in the rugby ethos, is part of what attracts Federico to the sport.

In New Zealand, Federico first spent 6 months at a prestigious local high school, Auckland Grammar School, and played for their rugby team, which has produced more All Blacks than any other school in New Zealand.  He then chose to follow on with Languages International’s English for University course because he needed to focus on academic writing, and Languages International specialises in teaching English to international students and has an international reputation for excellence.  He had studied English before, in New York, but the course he took didn’t cover his writing needs.  He has found that in his first 3 weeks at Languages International, his writing has already improved.

“The teachers have really shown us how to write essays and so on.  It has made a big difference.”

He has combined English for University with a preparation course for the IELTS test to give him the option of enrolling at an English-medium university. The entry requirements are high, including a 7.0 IELTS score, so Federico realised he needed the best English tuition available.  To enrol at the right schools Federico enlisted the help of Indirizzo Inghilterra, a language travel consultancy in Italy, who made the process an easy one for Federico and his family.

While studying at Languages International, Federico is playing for Ponsonby Rugby Club, which has produced more All Blacks than any other club in New Zealand.  The club is near Languages International, which allows Federico to study during the day and train in the evenings.  He trains with his team for 2 gruelling hours a day, 5 days a week.

Studying in NZ has provided some exciting opportunities for Federico.  He has attended 5 ITM Cup games and 3 World Cup games; and played rugby for Auckland Grammar School and the Ponsonby Rugby Club.  When his course at Languages International ends, Federico will return to Italy to finish high school and play for Petrarca. One day, Federico may meet some of his NZ teammates again, but from across the field, and wearing a different shade of blue, the blue of the Italian national team.

Hannah RobinsonAuthor: Hannah Robinson

Hannah Robinson is Languages International’s Digital Marketing Manager / Latin American Market Manager. You can read more articles by Hannah here.

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Photo by claytonjayscott.com