Argentina-born former Italy prop Martin Castrogiovanni has revealed that only his great-grandfather was Italian, making him ineligible to have represented the country in over 100 Test matches.
Born in Paraná, Castrogiovanni represented Argentina at U19 and U21 levels and then moved to the club Calvisano in Italy in 2001. He made his Test debut for Italy in June 2002, citing his grandfather as an immediate familial link to the country, and would go on to play a total of 119 Test matches for his adopted nation.
An ever-present for Italy, he played in four World Cup campaigns between 2003 and 2015, before calling it a day on his rugby career in 2016.
However, in an exclusive interview with Spanish publication Rugby Champagne, Castrogiovanni made a revelation that meant that he should never have been allowed to represent Italy at all.
“Grandpa Castro was born in Argentina, his name was José María,” said Castrogiovanni. “The one who was Italian was my great-grandfather, Ángel, who was born in Sicily, in Franco Forte.”
Castrogiovanni’s comments come as World Rugby’s player eligibility rules have been thrust into the spotlight after Spain were disqualified from the 2023 World Cup for fielding a South African-born prop during their qualification campaign.
World Rugby last year also made a major change to their eligibility laws, allowing players to legally represent a second country in their careers, provided that they meet certain criteria. This has allowed players like former Wallabies fullback Israel Folau and former All Blacks centre Charles Piutau to play for Tonga during the Pacific Nations Cup this year.
Photo: Paul Gilham/Getty Images