Learning to be part of a team, striving collectively for a single objective and aiming to go beyond limits, both on the field and at work. This is what Carolina De Fazio, a Commercial Operation Specialist at Avio Aero, has learned thanks to her great passion for rugby. For a long time now, she has been playing this sport at an amateur level and has recently found a place for it at work too.
Carolina began working for the company in 1992. Then, in 2005, she moved to Novara to gain new experience in the industrial and aeronautical sectors. In 2009, destiny led her back to Avio Aero and specifically to the new additive manufacturing factory in Cameri (Novara), where she works in the sales department. Although networking and collaboration are a must across the different businesses and brands in the GE world, in this story, sports are even faster than the Arcam machines' electron beams.
In fact, Dragoş Bavinschi is a GE Additive-Arcam Logistics Warehouse Operator, yet also a rugby enthusiast and professional player. During his day job, he would regularly be in contact with Cameri and Avio Aero, as is to be expected but, had never met his colleague who shares the same passion, inside the factory itself.
Carolina, please tell us how you became a rugby fan.
"I started playing in 2013 as a scrum half when my son Danilo - who is now 24 and has been playing rugby as a pro since he was 9 - convinced me to try it. I haven't stopped since then. I can't help it: this sport has taught me a lot. It has helped me become braver and have more confidence in my abilities, strength and endurance. Scrum halves must have a wide vision and great ability to respond quickly to game situations. This role has taught me to look at the situations in which I find myself with a wider perspective, both on the playing field and in life."
How did you meet Dragoş?
"The ' Rinoceronti Rugby PDT' (Papà di Torino, meaning Fathers from Turin) over-35’s team was established in 2015 by a few fathers of the junior players belonging to the Rugby CUS Torino club. Dragoş is the team’s coach, as well as one of the players. I joined them not long ago, when I moved to Rivalta di Torino for work. After meeting Dragoş at a tournament, we discovered that we both work at GE (I worked in Aviation and Dragoş in GE Additive) and that we play two key roles in rugby, that are in "symbiosis" within the team: the scrum half (No. 9, my role) and the fly half (No. 10, Dragoş). After that encounter, Dragoş invited me to the tryouts for the Rinoceronti Rugby team, which has led to a fantastic story of inclusion and team building. Sharing your passion for sport and the playing field with a colleague is a truly great experience. And even more so when the team for which you play shares the same values as your company, like gender inclusion and diversity, which is not a foregone conclusion in sports like football and rugby.
In fact, rugby, just like football, is still for the most part, considered a "masculine" sport. What is your viewpoint as a player?
"Rugby is a physical sport yet it also requires intelligence and quick thinking in order to collect information and act accordingly, by changing the strategy and leading you to the win. These latter characteristics make it an ideal sport for women. Let me also add that on the Rinoceronti team, Dragoş and all his teammates make me feel like just any other player."
"Rugby requires intelligence and quick thinking in order to collect information and act accordingly, by changing the strategy and leading you to the win: an ideal sport for women"
According to popular sources, rugby allegedly derives from a revolutionary act performed on November 1st, 1823 by the young William Webb Ellis. During a football game played on the lawn of the Rugby Public School in Rugby, an English town in Warwickshire, Ellis picked up the ball with his hands (at the time allowed by the rules) and began to run (which was not allowed by the rules) to the end line where he deposited the ball. This account, has been accepted as the official version, because it is fun to think that Rugby comes from the heart and the courage to go against the rules. In Italy, rugby was introduced in Genoa at the end of the 19th century by the English community. It was only towards the end of the 20th century that women's rugby began to significantly develop and see technical progress with the establishment of the Women's Rugby World Cup in 1991, followed by similar international tournaments such as the Home Championship in 1996.
Dragoş, when did you start playing rugby? What has changed since Carolina joined the Rinoceronti?
"I started playing when I was 12 and lived in Bucharest. I have been playing rugby for 31 years now. I have played in different positions, yet always been a three-quarter back (i.e. the ones who run), such as an inside center and a fly half. In addition to being a player, I am a second level coach and have trained several senior teams by working with a number of sports clubs, including CUS Torino. When my competitive career ended and as a result of work commitments also, I decided to follow my son Darius (also a player in the U12) and coach the Rinoceronti. This is an over-35’s team, primarily consisting of parents who, until just recently, had watched rugby from the sidelines as they accompanied their children to play this beautiful sport. The spirit within the team is absolutely inclusive. My task and goal are to pass on my experience and make sure that they have fun by learning and growing both as rugby players and a team. You work together to win together. At every training session and match, we enrich our skills with new experiences, by growing and becoming a group. We also have two female players on the team: one is Carolina, while the first, Raffaella, joined us half way through the season and is a prop who takes part in the scrums. The exuberant Carolina was the second to join our team... What I can say about our girls is that they are very brave and never back down. I believe that their joining the team confirms how much strength there is in diversity. As a scrum half, Carolina still has to make some progress. She needs to learn a few more tricks, but she integrated with her teammates immediately and she is a breath of fresh air for the Rinoceronti. I also have to say that she is clever and talks a lot, which are ideal characteristics for a scrum half that has to coordinate the scrum. Actually, she is like a transistor radio, on and off the pitch; so much so that I sometimes joke about what a chatterbox she is!"
What 'soft skill' best unites your roles at work and on the field?
Dragoş: "I will try to answer for both of us since Carolina has already said a lot and I am the coach: the ability to work under pressure, observe and make decisions, work in a team, organize and manage time, and create relationships."
Can you share an anecdote from your experience on the field?
Carolina: "I admit that for years, as a rugby mom, I complained to my son about the extremely muddy kits he would ask me to wash time and time again after every practice or game. Rugby is a sport played under any (or almost any) weather condition. 'If you didn't get dirty, you didn't play!', is what rugby players often say to their exasperated mothers. Certainly, I will never forget the excitement I felt during my first game. It had rained so much and we were caked in so much mud that we couldn't tell one team from the other. We won that game and while it was great to win my first game, the best part was diving into the biggest puddle I could find on the pitch at the end of the game. It was like being a kid again. Obviously that dive was immortalized by my amused son on the sidelines."
"Rugby can improve work skills too, like the ability to work under pressure, observe and make decisions, teamwork, organization, time management and even relationships."
Dragoş: "After playing rugby for more than 30 years, nice things have happened to me, both as a player and a coach. But there is one memory in particular that still makes me laugh out loud and this happened a few years ago. We were playing a league match and I was a fly half. All the three-quarters were busy trying to score goals. We were almost at the end of the second half and we were winning, not by a lot, but we were winning. For almost ten minutes our opponents had been putting pressure on us in our 22-metre area but we had no intention of letting them score a try. It was a battle between their scrum and ours to conquer just a few centimeters of ground. At a certain point, yet another ruck (a group of players called by the referee immediately after a tackle) was formed by the opposing team and their scrum half decided to open up the game by passing the ball to one of their props. At that moment, everyone expected that the two players (the largest in the scrum) would push forwards to gain more ground and subsequently form a ruck because the props, as it is well known, do not know how to kick. Instead, that prop decided to kick the ball. It is of course no surprise that the kick was far from perfect and the ball hit the referee directly in the face, in turn, knocking him to the ground and leaving him semi-conscious. Over the years, I have only had to call a doctor to the field once and it was for that referee. Fortunately, the referee got up almost immediately and everyone broke into hysterics, both on the field and in the stands."
Besides rugby, do you have any other unusual passions?
Carolina: "I love cooking traditional Neapolitan dishes and making pizza (but that is not really unexpected, considering my origins)."
Dragoş: "I love the mountains, skiing and outdoor sports. And ever since I discovered Carolina's culinary skills, I love to eat whatever she cooks."