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 Guinness 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. 

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“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.”

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RugbyPass brings you This Is Zebre, the behind the scenes documentary on the Guinness PRO14 club based in Italy

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 Guinness PRO14.”

Born in Irvine, Scotland, Biagi first arrived at Zebre in 2013 and he quickly worked his way into the Italy Test team, winning the first of his 23 caps the following year. His last appearance came in 2018 against Ireland in Chicago. During the early weeks of this year’s lockdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak, Biagi gave a compelling insight to RugbyPass into its impact on life in Italy, one of Europe’s countries hardest hit by the pandemic.  

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“The new normal is very different,” he said. “It’s almost surreal. I just went for some grocery shopping. I live in a small town, about 10,000 people just outside Parma. It’s normally quite busy around lunchtime but in the main square, there was just no one about. 

“Most of the shops are closed other than pharmacies and grocery shops, and everyone is wearing gloves and masks. It looks like you’re in a movie. It’s very low noise, there are hardly any cars going around. The country is functioning but it is very, very different.”

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