IRB Hall of Fame
IRB Hall of Fame – Induction No.67 – David Ian Campese (Queanbeyan Whites, ACT, NSW, Australia Under 21, Randwick, Petrarca Padua, Amatori Milan, Australia, Barbarians), 1962-
– Born: 21 October 1962 in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia
– Family: The second of four children born to an Italian father, who emigrated from his native country to Australia in the 1950s where he met and married Queanbeyan local Joan Murphy. David has an older brother, Mario, and two younger sisters, Lisa and Corrina. He has three children - Sienna, Jason and Mercedes – and is married to his Zimbabwe-born wife, Lara.
– Education: Queanbeyan High School
– Nickname: Campo
– Other sports: ACT Schoolboy Golf Championship winner at the age of 15, playing off a handicap of 12. Keen Rugby League and Aussie Rules player in his youth.
Started playing rugby at the age of 10, as a fly-half for local club side Queanbeyan, near the Australian Capital Territory in New South Wales. He played Rugby Union on Saturdays and Rugby League on Sundays until League and Aussie Rules became the dominant sports in his life at the age of 12. Having won the ACT Schoolboy Golf Championship at the age of 15, he then decided to put all oval ball sports to one side to concentrate on golf. After a year on the fairways and greens, Campese returned to Rugby Union and played fourth grade rugby for Queanbeyan Whites for one season before being selected to play for the Firsts. At the end of his second season at that level, he was selected to play for the Australian Under 21 side on their 1981 tour to New Zealand. Australia were beaten 37-7 by a young New Zealand side containing the likes of Grant Fox and Gary Whetton. He first trialled for the Wallabies in 1981 and scored in the final minute for the ‘Possibles’, but failed to win selection for the tour to Britain later that year.
International career milestones (1982-1996)
– Pulled on the green and gold jersey of a senior Australian team for the first time when he played against Manawatu on the tour of New Zealand on 31 July 1982. He scored a try and kicked three goals in a 26-10 win.
– Made his Test debut at age of 19 against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1982. He announced his arrival by standing up Stu Wilson, the legendary All Blacks wing, with his trademark goosestep, and scored the first of his 64 Test tries towards the end of a 23-16 defeat.
– Equalled the Australian try-scoring record for a single Test with four against USA in 1983.
– Member of 1984 Grand Slam winning Wallabies, who scored 12 tries and conceded only one in completing a clean sweep of victories over the Home Nations.
– Member of the 1986 Bledisloe Cup winning Wallabies, scoring in both of Australia’s victories as the series was won 2-1.
– Broke the existing try-scoring world record in the Rugby World Cup 1987 semi-final against France with the 25th try of his career.
– He first played for Barbarians in the Boxing Day fixture against Leicester in 1989. In 1990, the Club’s Centenary Year, he played against Leicester, England and Wales.
– Named in Team of the Decade by Rothmans Rugby Union Yearbook in 1989.
– A Rugby World Cup winner in 1991, he was voted Player of the Tournament after scoring six tries in six games.
– A member of 1992 Bledisloe Cup winning Wallabies, he scored his first ‘five-pointer’ in the 16-15 win in the opening Test in Sydney.
– Scored his 50th Test try against South Africa in Cape Town in 1992.
– A member of 1994 Bledisloe Cup winning Wallabies.
– Played in his third Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 1995. South Africa was later to become his home for three years.
– Set a new world record for tries scored with his 64th and final try against Canada on 29 June 1996.
– Made his 100th Test appearance against Italy in Padua in 1996, becoming Australia's first player to reach three figures.
– Played his 101st and final Test against Wales in Cardiff in 1996.
– Captained the Australia Sevens team to Commonwealth Games bronze in 1998.
Other rugby playing achievements
Campese became a pioneering all-year-round rugby player when he decided to return to his family roots and spend the Australian off-season playing rugby in Italy. Aged 23, he joined Petrarca Padua at the end of the 1984 Grand Slam tour, and won two league titles during his three-season stay there. Later, he had a spell playing under former teammate and friend Mark Ella at the Amatori Rugby Club in Milan.
– Joined the Bob Dwyer-coached Randwick Club from ACT in 1987. His arrival coincided with a golden period of success for one of Australia’s oldest clubs, with the ‘Galloping Greens’ winning seven consecutive Sydney Premiership titles from 1987-1992.
– He made 56 appearances for New South Wales.
Coaching at senior/academy level
– Singapore national team coach (1998).
– Natal Sharks skills and academy coach (2005-07).
– Tonga Sevens consultant coach in preparation for Commonwealth Games (2010).
– Formed the Hong Kong Rugby Academy (2011)
– Inducted into the Sports Australia Hall of Fame (1997).
– Received the Centenary Medal (2000)
– Awarded an Australia Sports Medal in recognition of his outstanding achievements (2001).
– Made a Member of the Order of Australia (2002).
– One of 11 legends inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame at the IRB World Rugby Conference and Exhibition in Dublin on 18 November 2013.
What he said:
– “It didn’t matter what they [the British journalists] said because we knew we were the best team and that we weren’t going to lose” – after Australia won RWC 1991.
– “For me, the pleasure is in going out in front of 50,000 people and doing something that no other player can do.”
– “The most fun I ever had was playing alongside the Ella brothers, especially Mark, because we thought alike and were on identical wavelengths.”
– “I’m still an amateur, of course, but I became rugby’s first millionaire five years ago.”
– “Yeah, well they’re not going to have much to cheer about tonight, so they may as well cheer them on in the warm-up” – discounting Ireland’s chances before they played Australia.
– “It’s no good shouting your mouth off and not delivering – although to be honest, I was expecting it to be a lot worse than this,” – after walking down Oxford Street in London wearing a sandwich board admitting he was wrong to rubbish England’s RWC 2003 chances.
– “You won’t win a World Cup with raw talent alone. You have to have a core of vastly experienced 28-30-year-olds. That is when you have a team. Look at South Africa in 2007, the Wallabies in 1991, South Africa in 1995, and England in 2003. Players who have been around but are at their peak. It’s a mental tournament, not just the physical,” – playing the pundit ahead of RWC 2011.
– “I felt like kicking myself, but I would probably have missed!” seeing the funny side after missing all four kicks at goal in a 16-8 Bledisloe Cup defeat in Sydney.
– “Forget footballs, the only thing you’re likely to get on the end of an English backline is chilblains.” – accusing England, not for the first time, for being too conservative in their approach.
What others said:
– Australia’s RWC 1991 winning captain Nick Farr-Jones: “He was just one of those instinctive players that just have pure genius.”
– Nick Farr-Jones: “He’s the sort of player whose brain doesn't always know where his legs are carrying him.”
– France legend Serge Blanco in the foreword of the winger’s autobiography, On a Wing and a Prayer: “The magician of Australian rugby has shown us a thousand turns, all as beautiful as one another.”
– Terry McLean, writing in the New Zealand Herald: “Campese could side-step his way out of a sealed paper bag.”
– Alan Jones, in an interview with The Canberra Times during the 1984 Grand Slam tour: “When I say he’s the Bradman of rugby I’m talking about the effect he has on crowds. When Bradman came to the wicket there was a buzz of expectancy around the ground. There’s the same anticipation evident when Campese gets the ball – he’s an electrifying player.”
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