Australia v Italy - a brief history
June 21, 2005

Australia v Italy - A Brief History

1983: Wallabies defeat Azzurri in Tour Opener

The first official Test match between Australia and Italy 'the Azzurri' was played on October 22 1983 in the North Eastern Italian town of Rovigo, near Venice.

It was the opening Test of the 1983 Spring Tour with Australia running in five tries to one including a double to outside centre Michael Hawker.

Mark Ella captained the Wallabies, for his 15th Test cap while, Queensland hooker and former Reds Coach Mark McBain made his Australian debut in front of a modest crowd of 6,500.

Queensland and Test Winger Brendan Moon, scored his 12th try in only his 24th Test, while David Campese made the most of the goal kicking duties with three conversions and a penalty goal.

The victory would prove to be Australia's only Test triumph on the 1983 Spring Tour, drawing with France in their next match 15 all, and then going down to the French in Paris 15-6.

1986: Victory over Italy kicks off a memorable season

The 1986 Test season saw the Wallabies win six of their seven Tests including a 2-1 series victory over the All Blacks in New Zealand for the Bledisloe Cup.

Kicking off the year against Italy in Brisbane, the Wallabies ran in six tries to two in front of a 10,000 strong Ballymore crowd, with winger David Campese scoring a double.

Campo's two tries extended his tally to 15 from only 21 Tests while captain and Queenslander Andrew Slack returned from injury to lead the side out for opening Test of the season.

1988: Hat-tricks a plenty on the wings in Roma

Wallaby wingers David Campese and Acura Niuqila both scored hat-tricks in Australia's nine tries to nil, 55-6 victory over Italy in Rome.

While Campese, playing his 42nd Test for Australia, continued to be recognized as a try scorer of note after an incredible solo effort against the Barbarians at Cardiff arms a week earlier.

His wing partner Acura Niuqila was a tour debutante in 1988.

Having played five Tests for his native Fiji, Niuqila settled in Sydney playing flyhalf and fullback for Randwick before being picked for the Spring Tour of Italy and the UK as a winger.

He played a total of three Tests for Australia, and his hat-trick against Italy means he's one of few Wallabies to average a try in each Test.

1994: Gregan debuts as Wallabies hold off determined Italians

Trailing 11-10 at half time and then with the scores locked at 20 all with five minutes to go, replacement flyhalf Tim Wallace, on debut, kicked a penalty goal to ensure Australia maintained an unbeaten run against Italy in 1994.

With Wallace replacing captain and flyhalf Michael Lynagh, and scrumhalf George Gregan also making his debut in the Number 9, Australia escaped with a close 23-20 victory over Italy, in front of more than 20,000 at Ballymore in Brisbane.

Italian scrumhalf Alessandro Troncon, who has gone to play more than 80 Tests for the Azzurri, lined up against Gregan and in the 57th minute took a quick tap off a penalty, rather than opting for goal.

The goal certainly could have proved important late in the game, and the three point difference is still the closest the Italians have come to defeating the Wallabies.

1994: Melbourne hosts Test Rugby for the first time in 33 years

Rain and a reported 4 degrees may have kept Melbourne's Olympic Park crowd down to just over 15,000 but for the Victorian Rugby public the Australia v Italy Test was the first South of the Murray since 1961.

Tim Wallace started at flyhalf and kicked five penalty goals to add to his conversion and penalty from the first Test against Italy, while winger David Campese continued his good try scoring run against the Italians with the only five-pointer coming in the 75th minute.

In the wet conditions Campese slid across in the left hand corner, and while television replays suggested he may have gone into touch before scoring, the introduction of a Television Match Official (TMO) was still six years away.

While the Melbourne experiment may not have been the most spectacular Test in living memory, it was certainly more entertaining than the 3 all draw between Australia and Fiji in 1961 at Olympic Park.

1996: Heritage plays a part in 100th Cap for Campo

It was the opening match of the 1996 Spring Tour, the first time Australia and Italy had met since the game turned professional, the Test debut for Queensland-cum-Brumbies flanker Brett Robinson, and another strong victory over the Azzurri for the Wallabies.

But for the 7000 strong crowd in Padova, in the North of Italy, this Test was only ever going to be remembered as a milestone for winger David Campese, earning his 100th cap for Australia.

With his father, who was born nearby, and mother present, just days after his 34th Birthday, Campese became only the second player in history to reach the 100 Test milestone behind Frenchman Phillippe Sella.

While he wasn't able to celebrate the match with a try, Campese did end up scoring six tries in his six appearances against the Italians and retired from Test rugby at the end of the 1996 Spring Tour.

2002: Water logged Wallabies finish tour with five

The Wallabies wrapped up their 2002 Spring Tour with a comprehensive 34-3 victory over Italy in Genoa, with heavy rain falling for the entire match and the lights required even though it was an afternoon kick off.

Winger Scott Staniforth scored a double while Justin Harrison scored his only Test try to date and centre Stirling Mortlock and Number 8 Toutai Kefu also crossed for five-pointers.

Eight players from the 24-man squad selected for this Saturday's Test played in 2002 - Matt Giteau, George Gregan, Stirling Mortlock, Wendell Sailor, George Smith, Lote Tuqiri, Chris Whitaker and Bill Young.

AUSTRALIA v ITALY

- TEST RECORD -

Played 7: Australia 7, Italy 0.

Year
Winner
Score
Venue

1983
Australia
29-7
Rovigo

1986
Australia
39-18
Brisbane

1988
Australia
55-6
Rome

1994
Australia
23-20
Brisbane

1994
Australia
20-7
Melbourne

1996
Australia
40-18
Padova

2002
Australia
34-3
Genoa

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