Tributes from around the world of rugby are flooding in for former Italian captain Massimo Cuttitta, who died on Sunday following complications from COVID-19.
Cuttitta, who was 54, played 69 times for his country and contested two Rugby World Cups, in 1991 and 1995.
The twin brother of winger Marcello Cuttitta, Massimo was a big character within the Italian game and was known as a fierce competitor and a great prop forward of his time.
It was this prowess in the front five that allowed Cuttitta to forge a post-playing career in coaching, most notably working with Scotland as their scrum coach under Scott Johnson’s realm in 2009.
He also worked as a consultant for Romania, Portugal and Canada.
⚫ Tutta la #FIR si unisce al dolore della famiglia Cuttitta a seguito della scomparsa di Massimo, simbolo del nostro rugby.
L’ex pilone e Capitano Azzurro, 70 caps tra il 1990 e il 2000, si è spento oggi a 54 anni ➡ https://t.co/Ta2foytJx1
— Italrugby (@Federugby) April 11, 2021
Cuttitta captained the Azzurri 16 times and scored six tries during a 10-year international career. His biggest achievements in the blue of Italy came in the 1997 FIRA Cup, beating France, and then three years later as Italy marked their debut in the inaugural Six Nations tournament by downing Scotland 34-20 in Rome.
Although Italian by birth, Cuttitta was notable for his distinctly South African accent, acquired through his family who moved to South Africa in the 1960s. This is where Massimo, Marcello and their other sibling Michele got their first taste of rugby, which continued on their return to Italy in the 80s.
A statement from the Italian Rugby Federation said: “It was with the deepest dismay that the Italian Rugby Federation and the entire national rugby movement learned of the untimely death of Massimo Cuttitta.”
Scottish Rugby is deeply saddened to hear the passing of our former Scotland scrum coach Massimo Cuttitta. He had recently been hospitalised in Rome with Covid-19 & died earlier today, aged 54. Our thoughts are with his family and friends in rugby at this time @Federugby https://t.co/FOSy7IsOtX pic.twitter.com/9UJ11wovvg
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) April 11, 2021
We are extremely sad to hear of the passing of Massimo Cuttitta.
Massimo, a prop, played a season for us in the late 90s.
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) April 11, 2021
On behalf of the Irish Rugby community we offer our prayers and condolences to the family & friends of the great Massimo Cuttitta. A legend of Italian Rugby @Federugby.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) April 11, 2021
Incredibly sad news about the untimely passing of Massimo Cuttitta, who was part of that brilliant @Federugby team of the 1990s and played a key role in their victory over Scotland in Italy’s first-ever Six Nations match 🇮🇹
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) April 12, 2021
Sending Aroha to our Italian rugby family. Massimo Cuttitta, you will be missed. 🖤 https://t.co/UkrXsjDV6j
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) April 12, 2021