A 17-year-old rising star from the hamlet of Rhoshill, a few miles south of Cardigan, is a key player for Italy in the Under 18 Six Nations Rugby Festival in England.

Stephen Lorenzo Varney, a sports sciences student at Hartpury College, Gloucester, is a member of Gloucester Rugby Club Academy and was recently voted the third best scrum-half in the English Academy Premiership.

He is the youngest ever in the English Championship, appearing for Hartpury College RFC against Bedford Blues and The Cornish Pirates and his outstanding performances brought him to the attention of the Italian Rugby Federation who capped him against France when he scored a try on his debut.

Italy have forged close links with Gloucester RFC who include in their squad Jake Polledri, Seb Negri and Callum Braley.

Stephen qualifies for Italy through his mother Valerie who is a full Italian and the Azzurri were quick to snap him up – he has been training out in Italy in the run-up to the current Six Nations event.

It is not surprising that young Varney is making a name for himself in the rugby world as his father Adrian, a lecturer at Coleg Ceredigion in Cardigan, was a talented openside flanker with Neath from 1987 to 1994.

The Gloucester Academy manager and England Under 20’s coach Richard Wiffin said “Stephen has excelled in his development, his excellent skill and vision to see space making him one of our standout academy players:

“I have no doubt that his desire and commitment will see him develop into a top professional,” he said.