Treviso flanker Paul Derbyshire added to his growing reputation with some impressive performances in New Zealand with the Azzurri during the World Cup this autumn.
But having returned to domestic duty, the 25-year-old back-rower will be keen to arrest Treviso’s slide in form that has seen them fall out of the RaboDirect PRO12 playoff picture in November.
1. What’s the strangest Christmas gift you’ve ever received? I don’t think I’ve ever had anything particularly odd, just the usual rubbish stuff like pants and socks, I don’t need them anymore but I keep getting them!
2. What’s your favourite thing about Christmas? To be honest what I love the most is for two or three days you get some time off from rugby. It can be so full on that just to be able to put your feet up, be with your family, eat plenty of good food and maybe even sneak in a drink or two to just relax for a bit.
3. Tell us your all-time favourite Christmas movie? Bizarrely my favourite Christmas film is Home Alone, I'm not sure why that is but it’s always on and it doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve watched it and it’s still pretty good after all these years!
4. What’s your favourite Christmas song? In Italy we have all the same classic songs like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Jingle Bells from England but we change the words to Italian with the same melody. They still sound pretty good if a tiny bit strange I suppose.
5. What’s your worst-ever Christmas experience? A couple of years ago we had a really bad one. Normally the whole family go to England but we stayed in Italy that year and the weather was so bad that we quite literally couldn’t leave the house. We were completely snowed in. Of course there are worse days than Christmas day to be stuck inside but it was pretty annoying all the same to not be able to even get out the house for one second.
6. What’s your favourite Christmas decoration? We have a shooting star that goes on the top of the tree every year, it’s an old decoration but a real tradition in our house that always goes on the top so I’ll have to pick that one.
7. Which RaboDirect PRO12 player would you like to have as your secret Santa? Maybe someone like Paul O’Connell, he always seems like a really nice and genuine guy so maybe he’d get me something nice.
8. Which RaboDirect PRO12 player would you invite around for Christmas Day? That would have to be someone who doesn’t eat very much, as I said Christmas is all about enjoying my food so maybe my teammate at Treviso, the scrum-half Fabio Semenzato because he wouldn’t take all the food unlike some of the other guys I know.
9. If you were one of Santa’s reindeer, what would your name be? My nickname at Treviso is ‘Pestone’ and I suppose the best translation for that in English is something like ‘Big Head’ so I suppose it would be something like that. I do have a pretty large head as it goes…
10. What’s the worst Christmas present you’ve been given? Well much like the strangest present I'm going to have to go with socks, it’s just not very creative is it? There’s nothing worse than a lazy present.
11. Which rugby player in the RaboDirect PRO12 would make the best Santa? Our winger at Treviso is a guy called Ludovico Nitoglia, he’s a really generous guy who from time to time grows a really long beard as well so he would probably be the best out of anybody.
12. What’s been your highlight of 2011? Well it would have to be playing in the World Cup with Italy; it doesn’t get any better than that really. The chance to represent your country on the biggest stage playing the game you love is something that I will never forget. The result against Ireland in our last game wasn’t exactly what we wanted but it was a great experience nonetheless. On the domestic front beating Munster at home in March was a great result for us and it showed what we can accomplish in this league.