The best thing about rugby is the camaraderie that last life times rather than eighty minutes and it felt like stepping back in time when I caught up with an old friend in Massimo Cuttitta in Sydney last week.
Cuttitta is of course the scrum coach for the Scotland rugby team who are in Sydney preparing for their Test match against the Wallabies this Tuesday to announce the start of the international season in the southern hemisphere.
I first met the Cuttitta brothers when I arrived in Milan in 1989 to begin a four year escapade in Italy for my family and I that was the defining moment in my rugby career.
Massimo and Marcello spoke perfect English having lived in South Africa and both these gentlemen made it easier for me to adapt to the rigors of living and playing in Italy in a football mad city like Milano.
After playing for Amatori Rugby Milano in the finals in 1989/90 I was appointed coach with a one year contract which was succinct and to the point. And as Presidente Sandro Manzoni eloquently stated in broken english to me at the time, you win you stay, you lose you go.
I then had to rely greatly on the playing group and the likes of Massimo Cuttitta to get my message across to the other players who could speak English but at various levels of understanding.
In my first season as coach we went through the season undefeated to win the Italian Championship with the help of Wallabies super star David Campese who at the time was easily the biggest name in world rugby.
In 1992 I selected Cuttitta as Amatori Rugby Milano captain seeing that he was a exceptional talent who knew the game and had a great empathy with his own players and opposition alike not to mention enormous respect from all for the champion prop.
He has been scrummaging coach for Scotland for the last six years as well as assisting both Edinburgh and Glasgow clubs which now consumes most of his time.
Living just south of Rome, Cuttitta commutes to Scotland every ten days before returning back home and whilst he seems to be enjoying plying his profession in Scotland where he is highly regarded by Scottish coach Andy Robinson, he seems a little home sick and would like nothing better than to coach in Italy.
He acknowledges that rugby has been good to him and through some hard and dedicated work he has won four Italian Championship in 1990/1, 1992/3, 1994/95 and 1995/96 as well as representing Italy on 68 occasions, captaining his country 16 times.
He was also an integral part on the Italian team when the growing rugby nation entered in competition against the games traditional foes in 2000 which is now the Six Nations.
I watched Massimo play in two RWC in 1991 and 1995 and although he may not have had the speed and excitement that his twin brother Marcello was blessed with, like most good forwards the harder the challenge the greater was his response.
We even managed to get Marcello it of bed when we rang him from Sydney and like Massimo he is coaching rugby in Milano and enjoying promoting the game through his past experiences to the next generation of Italian rugby players including his own two sons.
Scotland does not have the rugby depth and playing numbers of many of the bigger rugby nations and it is always hard work to get quality players in numbers to make life easier and so Cuttitta doesn't waste time instructing his players.
I know that in all rugby countries including Australia politics at the top level makes it difficult for former players to have a high profile coaching role and I hope that one day that both Massimo and Marcello Cuttitta have the opportunity and blessing from FIR to give back their passion, energy and commitment to Italian rugby.