Life under lockdown in Italy has been hard, but despite the country being hit hardest by the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Benetton’s Dean Budd says the “spirit of the people” has made things bearable as rugby pauses indefinitely.
For Kiwi-born Budd, it’s hard to deny the presence of the virus, with the number of cases and deaths rising with each passing day.
“It’s not nice,” said Budd in a Pro14 Rugby video with Premier Sports pundit and former Ospreys coach Sean Holley. “I’ve tried to isolate myself, from the news as well as anything else.
“It’s horrible here, seeing the military trucks pull up to pick up the dead people. We’ve been in quarantine for two weeks and the numbers haven’t slowed. But the spirit of the people is still amazing, they still smile and are positive. They definitely approach it with the right attitude.”
But he and his Benetton team-mates have found solace in maintaining the squad camaraderie, albeit through remote workouts.
“They’ve been amazing and we’ve been able to get dumbbells and weights for us to take home. It seemed kind of silly at the beginning where we were getting programmes of hanging off tables and lifting chairs…until you do it you don’t realise that you do a lot at home.”
With the season at an indefinite halt right now, Budd and Holley turned their attentions to a more positive note, reflecting on the upturn in fortunes for Benetton.
Budd believes the influence and direction of former Canada coach Kieran Crowley has been one of the key turning points for the club.
“Kieren definitely brought a lot of mindset changes, and that started with our culture, how we’re treating each other and how we value the game,” Budd continued. “And building that confidence made us realise that, we’re not any worse than anyone else.
“A lot of the Italian boys struggle with that; they view the English, the Irish and the Welsh as Gods. But they’re human like us and they have good days and bad days and that helped us believe so we could go away, perform and win games.”