Zimbabwe-born rugby star Sebastian Negri has agreed a new contract at Italian rugby union giants Benetton Rugby which will tie him at the European club until 2025.
The 27-year-old Marondera-born versatile back-row forward has been a revelation for the top Italian club since joining from Hartpury University in England in January 2017.
In addition to starring for the Treviso-based outfit in the newly formed United Rugby Championship, the European Rugby Challenge Cup and European Champions Cup, Negri is also a fully-fledged Italian international.
Qualifying to represent the European country through his father, who is Italian, Negri has also earned 36 caps with the Azzurri which included appearances at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
In addition to his international exploits, Negri has been one of the driving forces behind Benetton Rugby’s rise in European rugby. To date he has earned 53 appearances in the Benetton Rugby jersey, helping the club to the Guinness Pro14 Rainbow Cup title after an impressive win against the Bulls of South Africa in the final reaching the PRO14 playoffs in 2019.
In addition, in the locker room, he is a leader of the group coached by Marco Bortolami.
— Benetton Rugby 🦁 (@BenettonRugby) December 1, 2021
“I am happy to entrust my long term future to the club and I could not be happier than that for choosing to stay in Treviso,” an elated Negri said in a statement on the Italian club’s official website.
“Since I joined in 2017, I have felt at home. I love the fans and I owe a lot to the club for the way they helped me grow as a player both on and off the pitch. Being part of the team that achieved Rainbow Cup success last season was incredible and made us all hungry for even more conquest.”
Negri added: “Now I just want to continue the hard work and do my part to help us have more success this season and the next. I am proud to be a lion and to be part of this family. Finally, I want to thank my family and all those who have been close to me during this trip, looking forward to what the future holds for us.”
Negri was born in Marondera, Zimbabwe where he attended Springvale House for his early primary education before moving to South Africa, where he started building his career in rugby at Clifton Nottingham School.
He then went on a scholarship to Hilton College and ended up maturing through key experiences with the Natal Sharks and Western Province Academies at South African provincial level.
Being one of a few talented international young prospects with Italian heritage (his father Janusz, is from Milan), he initially featured for the European nation at Under-20 level before graduating to the senior side, where he has been a permanent feature since his international debut five years ago.
Despite representing Italy in international rugby, Negri still maintains a close connection with his country of birth and comes back home regularly to visit his parents who still stay in Zimbabwe.