Patience the key as Vintcent targets Scotland

Patience the key as Vintcent targets Scotland

Ross Vintcent has had to be patient as he takes his first steps in international rugby during the 2024 Guinness Men's Six Nations.

The Italy back-rower made his debut off the bench away to Ireland in Dublin, then had to wait a fortnight before he made his first start, in Italy’s dramatic 13-13 draw with France that rounded off Round Three. If he is selected for Round Four, he will have had another two-week wait to add a third cap, at home to Scotland.

That said, he has had to be patient from the start, with technology intervening as he waited to read confirmation of his place in Gonzalo Quesada’s first Championship squad as Italy coach.

“I didn’t have a clue I was going to be called in,” he said. “There wasn’t too much communication between me and Gonzalo, but he sent me a New Year’s message that said to keep working hard.

“That was all the communication we had before the team was released.

“The manager Giovanbattista Venditta messaged me and said 'congratulations, check your inbox,' and I checked my inbox for half an hour and eventually something came through and my name was there. Of course, I was really pleased and the first thing I did was phone my parents.”


Gregor Townsend’s Scotland team will roll into Rome’s Stadio Olimpico in confident mood following their retention of the Calcutta Cup in Round Two.

The Scots saw off England 30-21 at Murrayfield in Edinburgh to record a fourth consecutive tournament win over their old enemies for the first time since the 1890s.

Italy last beat Scotland in 2015, and the most recent time in Rome was 2012 when the Azzurri prevailed 13-6.

In Round Three Italy were centimetres away from their first Six Nations win in France when Paolo Garbisi’s last-minute penalty rebounded off the post to leave the match all-square. It was frustrating, but the team are keen to get back on the field and show off their new levels of confidence.

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“The boys are eager to play, they’ve had some down time, the legs are fresh, and they are eager to get out there,” Vintcent said. “At the same time, it is right to go through our process, do our homework, get things right, and build to Saturday.

“After that France game, I wasn’t too upset there wasn’t a game the next weekend because the body needed a bit of time to recover. Once you get a sniff of it you just want to be playing, so it is a little bit frustrating, but the body is grateful for it.

“It is massive step up and I felt it in the lungs. It was the same with the physicality, some of those French boys aren’t the smallest. I’m just hoping I can have another opportunity to get out there again.”


The South African-born Vintcent qualifies for Italy through his maternal grandfather who hails from Sicily.

Vintcent also has an Italy teammate’s brother to thank for introducing him to the Italian system. In his final year at Bishop’s School in Cape Town Sebastian Negri’s elder brother Tom called him up to ask his thoughts about moving to Italy.

When Covid-19 ended the schools’ circuit early in 2020 he made the jump to the U20 Academy where he “fell in love with Italy and the culture.”

He was based in Remedello near Brescia in northern Italy for 18 months, and then moved down to Parma for a year, during which time he appeared for United Rugby Championship (URC) side Zebre.

The 21-year-old also played in nine matches over the 2021 and 2022 U20 Six Nations, where he lined up alongside Lorenzo Cannone and Alessandro Garbisi, who he now calls Test-level teammates.

“It was surreal,” Vintcent said about making his Test debut, with his girlfriend sitting in the Aviva Stadium stands.

“I don’t think it's sunk in that I was playing in that environment. It was a proud moment for my family, and I was pleased they could be with me there.

“My grandad has been closely following and very proud. He doesn’t give too much away. he was very frustrated by the French result. He’s really enjoying seeing me on this path.”


While Vintcent was making strides with his rugby, education was always his main driver. To that end he earned a place at Exeter University in south-west England, where he planned “to play some social rugby,” and earn a degree in Business and Economics.

Naturally, it didn’t take long for former European Champions Exeter Chiefs to find out that there was an unattached talent on their doorstep and they quickly snapped him up.

He has quickly made an impression at Sandy Park, where he is one of a new wave of players stepping up after several club stalwarts moved on, and where he is benefitting from the guidance of Chiefs Director of Rugby Rob Baxter, a man who knows all about back-row play.

Vintcent has played 17 matches and scored nine tries since he made his debut. He is also among a group of players who, like him, are juggling their rugby commitments with earning a degree, most notably England wing Immanuel Feyi-Waboso who is studying medicine at Exeter University.

“Loving it, absolutely loving it,” Vintcent said when asked if his life in Devon was suiting him. “I’m lucky to be in a set-up with a university and a professional club so near and which has such a great relationship.

“We’re a young group, who work hard, and it is a great craic. I really like Rob Baxter and they are all inspirational coaches.

“He tries to allow the boys the freedom to express themselves on the field and because everyone respects him so highly, they try and express themselves, but they understand that it is a high-level competition and games are to be won. He’s instilled the right mentality in us, and I think everyone looks up to him.”

Italy v Scotland kicks off this Saturday at 14:15 GMT 

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