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|Full name||David Ian Campese|
|Date of birth||21 October 1962|
|Place of birth||Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia|
|Height||180 cm (5 ft 11 in)|
|Weight||89 kg (196 lb)|
|Notable relative(s)||Terry Campese|
|Rugby union career|
|Professional / senior clubs|
|Years||Club / team||Caps||(points)|
New South Wales
Amatori Rugby Milano
|Years||Club / team||Caps||(points)|
|Sevens national teams|
|Years||Club / team||Comps|
|Years||Club / team|
Murray Mexted International Academy
Sharks (Currie Cup)
David Ian Campese, AM (born 21 October 1962), also known as Campo, is a former Australian rugby union player. Campese was capped by the Wallabies 101 times, and held the world record for the most tries in test matches (64) until Daisuke Ohata scored his 65th try playing for Japan on 14 May 2006.
Campese made his debut for the Wallabies on the 1982 Australia rugby union tour of New Zealand. In 1983, he equaled the then record for most tries in a Test match for Australia against the USA, scoring four tries. Campese was a member of the Eighth Wallabies for the 1984 Australia rugby union tour of Britain and Ireland that won rugby's "grand slam", the first Australian side to defeat all four home sides, England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, on a tour. Campese was a member of the Wallabies on the 1986 Australia rugby union tour of New Zealand that beat the All Blacks 2-1, only the fifth international and second Australian team to win a Test series in New Zealand. During the 1987 Rugby World Cup semi-final against France, Campese broke the then world record for most tries scored by an international rugby player. In 1988 Campese received a standing ovation from the crowd and applause from his teammates after scoring a try for Australia against the Barbarians at Cardiff Arms Park. In October/November 1991 Campese as acclaimed the Player of the 1991 Rugby World Cup, scoring six tries in as many matches for the victorious Wallabies.
He is famous for his "goose-step" — a hitch-kick motion which left opponents stumbling to try to tackle him.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Early rugby career
- 3 Australian under 21s
- 4 International Test Career
- 4.1 1982 Bledisloe Cup Test Series
- 4.2 1983
- 4.3 1983 Tour to Italy and France
- 4.4 1984 Bledisloe Cup Test Series
- 4.5 1984 Grand Slam
- 4.5.1 Australia 19 - England 3 (London - 3 November 1984)
- 4.5.2 Australia 16 - Ireland 9 (Dublin - 10 November 1984)
- 4.5.3 Australia 28 - Wales 9 (Cardiff - 24 November 1984)
- 4.5.4 Australia 37 - Scotland 12 (Murrayfield - 8 December 1984)
- 4.5.5 Australia 37 - Barbarians 30 (Cardiff - 18 December 1984)
- 4.6 1985
- 4.7 1986
- 4.8 1986 Bledisloe Cup Test Series
- 4.9 1987 Rugby World Cup
- 4.9.1 World Cup Pool Match: Australia 19 - England 6 (Sydney - 23 May 1987)
- 4.9.2 World Cup Pool Match: Australia 47 - USA 21 (Brisbane - 31 May 1987)
- 4.9.3 World Cup Pool Match: Australia 42 - Japan 23 (Sydney - 3 June 1987)
- 4.9.4 World Cup Quarter-Final: Australia 33 - Ireland 15 (Sydney- 7 June 1987)
- 4.9.5 World Cup Semi-Final: Australia 24 - France 30 (Sydney - 13 June 1987)
- 4.9.6 World Cup Play-Off For Third: Australia 21- Wales 22 (Rotorua - 18 June 1987)
- 4.10 1987 Bledisloe Cup Test: Australia 16 - New Zealand 30 (Sydney - 25 July 1987)
- 4.11 Australia v England (1988)
- 4.12 1988 Bledisloe Cup Test Series
- 4.13 1988 Australian rugby union tour of England, Scotland and Italy
- 4.14 Australia v British Lions (1989)
- 4.15 1989 Bledisloe Cup Test: Australia 12 - New Zealand 24 (Auckland - 5 August 1989)
- 4.16 Australia v France (1989)
- 4.17 Australia v France (1990)
- 4.18 Australia 67 - U.S.A. 9 (Brisbane - 8 July 1990)
- 4.19 1990 Bledisloe Cup Test Series
- 4.20 1991
- 4.21 1991 Rugby Union World Cup
- 4.21.1 1991 World Cup Pool Match - Australia 39 - 19 Argentina (Llanelli - 4 October 1991)
- 4.21.2 1991 World Cup Pool Match - Australia 9 - Western Samoa 3 (Pontypool - 9 October 1991)
- 4.21.3 1991 World Cup Pool Match - Australia 38 - Wales 3 (Cardiff - 12 October 1991)
- 4.21.4 1991 World Cup Quarter Final - Australia 19 - Ireland 18 (Dublin - 20 October 1991)
- 4.21.5 1991 World Cup Semi Final - Australia 16 - 6 New Zealand (Dublin - 27 October 1991)
- 4.21.6 1991 World Cup Final - Australia 12 - 6 England (London - 2 November 1991)
- 4.22 1992
- 4.23 Australia v Argentina (1995)
- 4.24 1995 Rugby World Cup
- 4.25 1995 Bledisloe Cup
- 4.26 1996
- 4.27 1996 Australian Tour to Europe
- 5 Opinions
- 6 Career Milestones
- 7 Legacy
- 8 Honours
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
David Campese was born on 21 October 1962, in Queanbeyan, New South Wales to Gianantonio and Joan Campese. His older brother Mario was born in 1959. Campese has two sisters, Lisa and Corrina. Lisa was born in 1964 and Corrina was born in 1965. In 1966 his family moved back to Montecchio Precalcino in northern Italy for eighteen months before moving back to Australia and settling in Queanbeyan, New South Wales.
Campese attended his local public school and high school and played rugby league from the ages of eight to sixteen for the Queanbeyan Blues. At age 16 he gave up all forms of rugby to play golf. In 1978 he won the ACT-Monaro Schoolboys golf title.
Early rugby career
David Campese played his first game of rugby union for the Queanbeyan Whites in 1979 in fourth grade. During 1980 he was promoted to first grade. After two years of first-grade rugby, in 1981 Campese was promoted to the Australian under-21 squad to tour New Zealand that was beaten 37-7. Shortly after, Campese was selected in a 'trial match' prior to Australia's 1981/82 Tour to the UK, but did not achieve national selection.
Australian under 21s
In 1982 the Scottish Test side toured Australia for a two-Test series. Prior to both Tests, David Campese was a standout performer at fullback playing for the Australian under 21s side.
- "A few months earlier Campese had played for the Australian under-21s against the Fijian under-21s in a curtain-raiser to the first Test against Scotland in Brisbane, and he had cut the Fijian defence to shreds. I asked at once who he was and was told he was a rising star in the Canberra competition. Then I saw him play a second time in the curtain-raiser to the second Test, and again he was brilliant in attack."
In the tribute book David Campese former Australian coach Alan Jones wrote that:
- "I was at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1982 when this unknown Canberra teenage fullback was playing in what was regarded as something of a trial, a curtain raiser to a Test against a New Zealand Under 21 side, though rarely did anyone from such a trial graduate immediately to much else. People were wandering into the ground and those who were there gave little attention to what was happening on the paddock. But on this day, and not for the first time, a remarkably gifted and fleet of foot Canberra teenager swept into the backline, received the ball at the end of a pass, chip-kicked, accelerated, gathered and scored."
In Running Rugby former Australian rugby player Mark Ella wrote of Campese's performance for the Australian Under 21s against New Zealand, which occurred prior to Australia's second Test against Scotland in 1982:
- "Like a lot of other people, I first became aware that a promising young player named David Campese had arrived on the scene when he appeared in a curtain-raiser to a Test against Scotland at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1982. Campese was playing for the Australian under 21s against the New Zealand under 21s. I was a reserve that day for the Test, so I was in the dressing-room and did not watch the curtain-raiser myself, but I soon came to hear about it. Although Australia won the Test against Scotland handsomely, all the talk after the match was about the performance in the curtain-raiser by the fullback from Canberra. Everyone who watched Campese that day had been astonished by his ability."
International Test Career
1982 Bledisloe Cup Test Series
On the night of Australia's second Test against Scotland in 1982, ten Australian rugby players announced that for personal and business reasons they would not be available for the 1982 Australian tour to New Zealand, including Australia's premier winger Brendan Moon. Following this announcement, David Campese was selected for the 1982 Australia rugby union tour of New Zealand.
In The Winning Way then Australian coach Bob Dwyer wrote, "I am not sure whether he [Campese] would have made the tour if Brendan Moon and the others had not pulled out, but even if he had he would have been a borderline choice and might have remained on the fringe of the team for much of the tour. Instead, he occupied centre-stage and performed brilliantly."
Following the Wallabies first tour match against Taranaki in New Plymouth, David Campese played his first game for the Wallabies against Manawatu. Rugby journalist Bret Harris in Ella, Ella, Ella reports that, "An electrifying runner, he shower promise of greater things to come when he left the defence lurching into space to score a brilliant, solo try." Campese played in the following game against Hawke's Bay at Napier and, two matches later, was chosen for his first Test.
In The Winning Way Dwyer writes that, "I certainly did not mark him down as someone liable to break into the Test side. Although [Brendan] Moon had withdrawn, two other wingers of proven ability were going on the New Zealand tour, Peter Grigg and Mick Martin... Campese played in a couple of the early tour matches, and as we approached the first Test a few of the senior players tried to advance his cause by telling me how much they admired him."
Former New Zealand All Blacks wing Stu Wilson writes in the tribute book David Campese that, "When asked by a television reporter if he was looking forward to mark Stu Wilson he replied, 'Stu who?'" Campese responded in the same book by replying that, "The story is true, but Stu misunderstood why I said it. I didn't say it because I was cocky. I said it because I honestly did not know who Stu Wilson was. I was a nineteen-year-old boy from Queanbeyan. My background had been in rugby league, not rugby union."
Australia 16 - New Zealand 23 (Christchurch - 14 August 1982)
An account of Campese's Test debut is given by Bob Dwyer in The Winning Way:
|“||We picked him for the first Test, and on the very first occasion he touched a ball in Test rugby he found himself opposed one-on-one by Stu Wilson, then widely rated the number-one winger in the world, in the middle of Lancaster Park. Campese stood Wilson up and ran around him so easily that he might have been playing Test Rugby for years. He did it once or twice again before the match was over and on one occasion scored a try. I was enthused, and so was the media. They wrote of him in glowing terms next day... I don't believe I have ever lost the sense of wonder at his ability which I felt when I saw him run around Stu Wilson on Lancaster Park.||”|
In Running Rugby Mark Ella writes of Campese's debut that:
|“||Campese played his first Test on that tour. The match was at Christchurch, and I can remember the occasion very clearly. Until that match, Stu Wilson of New Zealand reigned as the world's champion winger, but I think his reign ended that day. Campese turned it on with the goose-step and trumped Wilson completely. We all knew then that someone really special had come on the scene.||”|
In On A Wing and a Prayer, Campese downplayed his success against Wilson, "I beat Stu Wilson, the All Black wing, a few times, on a couple of occasions by employing the goose-step. So much has been made of that fact over the years that it has been blown out of all proportion." He added that:
|“||I remember that in the first half of that Test match at Christchurch, Roger Gould had a kick charged down and I went to pick it up one-handed...and knocked on. In a Test match! Then, in the second half, we got the ball and ran it from our own line. Gould gave me the ball and there was no one in front of me except Allan Hewson, the All Black full-back. I tried to change hands and dropped the ball. Maybe I have always been a bit that way; unpredictable to the end.||”|
However, Campese did score his first try in international rugby from a cross-field kick from Mark Ella late in the game. In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese writes that:
|“||I did score a try, but not until two minutes from the end when we were trailing 23-12. So in the context of that particular match it had little relevance, but I would say it was of lasting value to Australian rugby in the years to come. That is because of the way it was scored. Mark Ella cross-kicked a long ball to me on the left wing. I gathered and touched down wide out. It was probably one of the early demonstrations of the partnership, the understanding between Mark and myself, which was to beat fruit on many, many occasions for Australia, Randwick and finally for Amatori in Milan.||”|
Australia 19 - New Zealand 16 (Wellington - 28 August 1982)
Two moments involving Campese are frequently cited in reports of the second Test against New Zealand at Athletic Park.
Australian outside centre Gary Ella scored a try after Campese handled the ball twice in the movement. In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese writes that, "We led at 19-3 half-time, having plundered a gale-force wind in our favour in the first half at Athletic Park, Wellington. After two early Roger Gould penalty goals, I got through and found Mark Ella close by in support. Gould took it on, I backed him up and gave Gary Ella the scoring pass."
In Ella, Ella, Ella rugby journalist Bret Harris documents Gary Ella's try by writing that:
- "The Wallabies hopped to a 6-0 lead after 23 minutes of play following two penalty goals from Gould. But Australia burst clear when Campese, spinning like a top, stepped around Stu Wilson to initiate a dazzling attacking sequence. Campese twirled in-field and linked with Mark, who in turn found Gould on the boil. Campese darted around Gould and jigged towards the corner, but he was engulfed by the cover defence. Gary suddenly appeared from nowhere to accept the pass and score."
Before half-time Campese scored what rugby commentator Gordon Bray described as "one of the most stirring support tries in Test match history" and what rugby journalist Spiro Zavos called "one of rugby's greatest tries". Bray writes that, "More than half the Wallaby side handled in the movement, starting with Cox and Mark Ella. Then Gould, Grigg, Gary Ella, Hawker, Lucas and big Steve Williams all combined before Campo scooted over beside the posts. It was a knockout blow on half-time and gave the Australians a match-winning 19-3 lead."
Australia led New Zealand 19-3 at halftime. The full-time score was 19-16.
Australia 18 - New Zealand 33 (Auckland - 11 September 1982)
Campese played a central part in one of the biggest talking points of the third and final Test. In The Rise and Rise of Australian Rugby Philip Derriman records that:
|“||...the Wallabies held their lead and, shortly before half-time, they appeared...to have extended it. Campese made a break and passed to Andrew Slack who, in turn, passed to Steve Williams who, supported by Michael Hawker, went over the line right at the posts - not realising that an instant earlier the Scottish referee Alan Hosie had ruled back that Campese's pass was forward and called the play back. It proved to be the turning point of the match. The try would have pushed Australia to an 18-6 lead. Instead, the deflated and aggrieved Wallabies seemed to lose their way.
To this day, Australians who were close to that bit of action insist it was not a forward pass, and they believe their view is supported by the replay. Steve Williams does not think a try would have been a certainty if the play hadn't been called back - there had been still a couple of defenders to beat - but he has no doubt the pass was legitimate. 'We watched the replay of it a few times,' he said, 'and I think even the All Black press the next day called it a flat pass.'
Mark Ella: 'Alan Hosie, the Scottish referee, didn't do us any justice. I was almost at level pegging when the pass was made. I thought it was right on the line, certainly wasn't forward. It was just a level pass, and that basically changed the game. The wind fell out of our sails.'"
Simon Poidevin in For Love Not Money writes that, "At halftime we were leading 15-12 and it could have been 21-12 if a try equal in skill and drama to the Campese try at Wellington hadn't been disallowed for a forward pass." Bob Dwyer in The Winning Way asserts the disallowed try could have cost Australia the Test, writing that, "Towards the end of the first half Steve Williams went over the line at the end of a movement which had begun at the far end of the field, but the referee ruled there had been a forward pass three or four players earlier. That try, if converted, would have taken us to a lead of 18 to 6 and, I think, could have been the winning of the match.
The Wallabies set a scoring record for an Australian tour of New Zealand by scoring 316 points in 14 matches, including 47 tries. This surpassed the achievement of the 1972 Australian team, which scored 229 in 13 matches. Australian sportswriter Jack Pollard documented that Campese "scored eight tries in nine games, kicked four goals and two penalties for a total of 48 points."
The Australian team made a positive impression on the New Zealand public during the tour and Campese was among those celebrated for his entertaining style of play. New Zealand rugby journalist Terry McLean, writing in the New Zealand Herald wrote after the tour that:
|“||The team aroused an extraordinary affection and commanded a universal respect. It would not be too much to say that this was the most significant Wallaby team ever to tour New Zealand. The good that it did to Kiwi rugby was beyond comprehension. We Kiwis have not often seen their like. On their day, they lit such a fire as by God's grace shall never be put out in the subsequent history of New Zealand rugby.||”|
Mclean continued his appraisal of the 1982 Australia Wallabies by writing that:
|“||The one lack of Wallaby rugby is forwards of real strength in physical confrontation. Beyond that, the brilliance. Mark Ella, sublime in handling and knowing where to be; Campese, who could side-step his way out of a sealed paper bag; Gould, surely one of the greatest punt-kickers in all of rugby history;... Gary Ella, of the wonderful, natural talent; Hawker, perhaps too much inclined to go on his own, but strikingly dangerous; Phillip Cox, a scrum-half who served his passes and made his runs and came back for more; Chris Roche, a flanker who stood as high in the sky as the eye of a baby elephant and who weighed about a quarter as much, but who tracked the field at the speed of a deerfoot; Simon Poidevin and "Rowdy" Lucas, who so well supported Roche; Steve Williams and Duncan Hall, who between them might have won the final Test if Hall hadn't had his tour ended by a brutal boot in the back in the second; the other forwards and backs who, like the smile of a cat, emanated at amazing places and impossible times to carry on the ball. Bravo the Wallabies.||”|
Regarding Campese's early impressions on New Zealand soil, former All Black breakaway Graham Mourie complimented him by saying:
|“||Campo came onto the scene as a very young player, and unknown player in that series, and I think gave Stu Wilson nightmares. I think Stuey got a bit of a towelling by Campo during that series. You know, he had one or two innovations: the old stutter step was something which nobody had really seen before . . . But I think Campo with his style and his speed and his flair was certainly a bit of an individual. He took us by surprise. Stu got a bit of stick for that because he was probably our star winger in that period. He'd been with the All Blacks from 1976, 1977, right through and was an outstanding winger. Stuey never got near Campo. I mean, Campo was exceptional.||”|
|“||He was good – without a doubt the most exciting talent we'd seen for years – and I'm saying, 'He's on my wing, I have to mark him.' . . . Well, for three Tests I tried but couldn't catch him . . . He had the goose-step, he had the chip and chase, he had the typical cockiness of all Australian backs. But we just couldn't get near him – he was that good . . . He made life hell for me for three tests.||”|
Australia 49 - United States 3 (Sydney - 9 July 1983)
Australia's first Test in 1983 was against the USA in Sydney, which was won 49-3. David Campese scored four tries in Australia's victory over the USA, equaling former Australian backrower Greg Cornelson's record for the most tries in a Test match for an Australian." In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese downplayed his achievement, writing that, "...I don't regard that as a great achievement; American rugby in those days was a long way removed from the New Zealand standard. The tries I had scored in the Tests against the All Blacks at Christchurch and Wellington the previous year made me infinitely more proud."
Peter Jenkins in Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby writes that, "Campese, moved to fullback early in the second half with Roger Gould limping off injured, triggered the best of Australia's tries after collecting an American kick behind his own goal line. Veering left he launched a counterattack, the ball passed through six pairs of hands, including Campese's for a second touch, before flanker Chris Roche went over."
Australia 3 - Argentina 18 (Brisbane - 31 July 1983)
Following the Test against the United States, Australia played in a two Test home series against Argentina, which was drawn 1-1.
Australia were defeated by Argentina in the first Test, losing 3-18. Rugby journalist Bret Harris in Ella, Ella, Ella wrote that:
- "Dwyer's tactics relied heavily on the attacking brilliance of Australia's outside backs. He claimed Argentina would not see which way Campese, Moon and Gould went. But Porta employed percentage tactics, keeping the ball in front of the forwards and away from Australia's lethal backs. Australia was under so much pressure from the Argentinian forwards they failed to make use of the meagre possession they managed to win."
Australia's scrum was heavily criticised for being outperformed by the Argentine scrum.
Australia 29 - Argentina 13 (Sydney - 7 August 1983)
Following the first Test against Argentina, Australian fullback Roger Gould made himself unavailable due to a leg injury. Australian coach Bob Dwyer sought to replace Gould with Randwick fullback Glen Ella. Dwyer is recorded as saying, "I don't think there is a more devastating attacking player in the world than Campese, but Glen is a better positional player." However, Dwyer was outvoted by the Australian co-selectors, and Campese played his first Test at fullback for Australia.
Campese received praise for his debut performance at fullback in the second Test. Rugby journalist Bret Harris in Ella, Ella, Ella records that, "Campese performed so dazzlingly even Gould confessed to feeling a chill wind as he watched the match on television. He beat man after man every time he touched the ball." Campese was involved in the biggest controversy of the Test, as Harris documents:
|“||Welsh referee, Clive Norling, created a furore when he awarded a controversial penalty try to Australia midway through the first half. Australia was leading 6-3 when Campese launched a spectacular counter-attacking raid from his own quarter. Mark [Ella] loomed up beside him in support and skirted down the left touchline. As the cover defence closed in, Mark [Ella] threw a pass to Poidevin, but the ball was knocked down by Argentinian breakaway, Tomas Peterson. The crowd watched in confusion as Norling sprinted 25 metres to the Puma tryline to signal the penalty-try to Australia."||”|
Bret Harris in Ella, Ella, Ella records that, "Campese and Mark combined in the second half to score the best try of the series. Mark intercepted a pass 20 metres from the Australian tryline and raced towards the halfway before floating a pass to Campese who had zoomed up like a rocket. Campese bamboozled the Argentine fullback, Bernado Miguens, with his goose-step and drew the curtain on a superb performance."
In The Winning Way former Australian coach Bob Dwyer writes:
|“||Campese's tries are a little like Don Bradman's centuries. Most were brilliant, but because there were so many of them they are not easy to single out. One Campese try which I do remember clearly was scored in the second Test against Argentina in 1983. Mark Ella picked up a loose ball in counter attack and passed it to Campese, who made a long run along the western touchline at the Sydney Cricket Ground, in front of the Members Pavilion. An Argentine defender had Campese well covered, but when he moved in to tackle him, Campese did his famous goose-step. The change of pace deceived the Argentine so comprehensively that he dived into touch, clutching thin air. The referee, the Welshman Clive Norling, was so impressed by this that he went up to Campese as soon as he had scored and told him it was the best try he had ever seen."||”|
Australia 8 - New Zealand 18 (Sydney - 20 August 1983)
Australia played one Bledisloe Cup Test versus New Zealand in 1983, which was lost 8-18.
Campese continued to substitute for injured Australian fullback Roger Gould for Australia's one-off Bledisloe Cup Test for 1983 against New Zealand. Again, Australian coach Bob Dwyer recommended Randwick fullback Glen Ella for the fullback position in Gould's absence, but was overruled by his co-selectors.
Campese records in On a Wing and a Prayer that he "...missed four shots at goal from four attempts (two penalty goals and two conversions), and we lost 16-8, two tries to one in our favour, against the mighty All Blacks. I felt like kicking myself, but I would probably have missed."
This was in contrast to New Zealand's fullback Allan Hewson who managed five from six attempts at the goals. Bob Dwyer later said: "If we had been able to take even the conversion points it would have given us heart." Australian captain Mark Ella seriously contemplated replacing Campese and attempting the kicking duties himself, but he later reflected: "Who's to say I'd have done any better?"
Peter Jenkins in Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby records that, "Campese did create one Australian try, running off the hip of centre Andrew Slack and into space before sending flanker Simon Poidevin on a weaving run to the line." Simon Poidevin in For Love Not Money writes that, "Campo broke through a set move from the backs to me, I saw the line open and went with everything I had. I saw the figure of Bernie Fraser coming at me, and though he got to me a metre out he wouldn't stop me and over I went."
Sports journalist Bret Harris, author of Ella, Ella, Ella criticised Campese's positional play at fullback, and praised New Zealand's backs, in particular All Black centre Steve Pokere, for their tactical kicking. In My Game Your Game Campese defends his 'general play', but highlights this Test as his 'first bitter experience' playing rugby union at Test match level:
|“||My first bitter experience was in 1983, when we played the All Blacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground in a one-off Bledisloe Cup game. My general play was fine, but we had gone into the game without a recognised goal-kicker. Our regular fullback Roger Gould was injured and yours truly was given the job. None out of four was the end result and the All Blacks won the Test 18–8, despite Australia scoring two tries to one. The press had a great time with that one.||”|
1983 Tour to Italy and France
Australia 29 - Italy 7 (Rovigo - 22 October 1983)
In 1983 the Australia rugby union team traveled to Europe for a Test against Italy and a two-Test series against France.
Incumbent Australian fullback Roger Gould aggravated a thigh injury prior to the Test against Italy. However, Campese was selected on the wing, and Randwick fullback Glen Ella was selected in his second Test for Australia at fullback.
Campese was assigned the goal-kicking duties against Italy. Peter Jenkins in Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby writes that the Test "also marked a goal-kicking return of sorts for winger Campese, who celebrated his 21st birthday the previous night. He managed to land three conversions and a penalty after coach Dwyer had suggested he was on the kicking high-wire. 'If David starts well, he'll kick well all day,' Dwyer offered on Test eve. 'But conversely, if he starts badly, then that's the end of him.'"
Australia 15 - France 15 (Clermont-Ferrard - 13 November 1983)
Australian fullback Roger Gould returned to the Australian team for Australia's 1983 Test series against France. However, due to an injury Gould sustained, Campese continued to perform the goal-kicking responsibilities for the Wallabies, following his goal-kicking performance against Italy. However, Campese played a diminished role in the games as Australia elected a less expansive style of play. Sports journalist Bret Harris records in Ella, Ella, Ella that:
- "Dwyer and Mark [Ella] agreed France was vulnerable in the inside-backs and they designed the Wallabies' tactics to exploit this weakness. They also respected the speed of France's outside backs and decided the Australians were not fast enough to run around them. Consequently, the Wallabies concentrated in busting the French up the middle, using Hawker and Gould as their main attacking weapons. In an apparent departure from the running game philosophy, Dwyer instructed Mark not to attack from first phase play, but to use the mid-field 'bomb' to unsetlle the French."
Harris further adds that, "Gary [Ella], Campese and [Brendan] Moon barely touched the ball, but they played an important role in the strategy by chasing high kicks and defending stout-heartedly."
However, a different account of the Wallabies tactics is given by Bob Dwyer in The Winning Way:
- "Mark Ella played out of character for much of the tour and, for that reason, was not nearly so effective. I strongly suspect that a number of senior players with a conservative outlook had talked Ella out of playing his natural game. The Australian players appeared afraid to run the ball against the French. I think they felt that the French were so fast that if our players were tackled and lost possession in midfield their French counterparts would present a threat."
Dwyer further added that, "It was a miserable Test for us in every respect. Roger Gould could not do the goal-kicking because of an injury, so Campese had to do it instead, and Campo is not a goal-kicker of international class. We did not lose the Test, but I count that match among my least happy Rugby memories."
Campese only managed one conversion in the first Test against France.
Australia 6 - France 15 (Paris - 19 November 1983)
Campese landed only one penalty goal in Australia's 15-6 loss to France in Paris on 19 November 1983. Bret Harris reports that, "France controlled 70 per cent of the ball and enjoyed a territorial advantage for most of the match."
1984 Bledisloe Cup Test Series
Australia 16 - Fiji 3 (Suva - 9 June 1984)
Prior to the 1984 Bledisloe Cup Test Series, Australia played a Test against Fiji in Suva on 9 June 1984, in which Campese scored one try. Peter Jenkins writes that, "Forward power, one try through fullback David Campese, three penalty goals to Lynagh, and five-eighth Mark Ella chipping in with a drop goal, ensured a comfortable win. Sports journalist Bret Harris documents that Campese's try came from Mark Ella "looping around Lynagh to link with Slack, who sent Campese flying for the corner.".
1st Test: Australia 16 - New Zealand 9 (Sydney - 21 July 1984)
David Campese was selected, along with Mark Ella, to share the goal-kicking responsibility for the first Test against New Zealand in 1984. Rugby writer Peter Jenkins records in Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby that, "Even wayward goal-kicking by winger Campese, who missed three attempts while Ella landed two from five, did not, on this occasion, prove crucial."
2nd Test: Australia 15- New Zealand 19 (Brisbane - 4 August 1984)
Rugby writer Peter Jenkins writes in Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby that, "New Zealand fullback Robbie Deans kicked five penalty goals to put the All Blacks in front, including one after referee Roger Quittenton ruled Campese had taken Deans high in a tackle. Quinttenton later admitted he had made a mistake."
Rugby journalist Terry Smith wrote that, "The fifth [penalty] was the result of a horrific decision by England's Roger Quittenton... a referee who penalised David Campese for a head-high tackle as he attempted to wrap up Deans ball-and-all around the chest. Quittenton later admitted to Campese that he'd made a mistake, and added the incredible postscript that it hadn't affected the result."
3rd Test: Australia 24 - New Zealand 25 (Sydney - 18 August 1984)
Rugby journalist Terry Smith wrote that, "It wasn't until just before half-time in the third Test that Campese got his first chance of the series to run at the New Zealanders. He swept past Craig Green and Robbie Deans in bewildering fashion to conjure a try out of nothing." Smith further recorded that, "I saw Jones's half-time notes telling his players to stick to the game plan of moving the ball wide to wingers Campese and Brendan Moon whenever possible. His words fell on deaf ears."
Bryce Rope, coach of the New Zealand side that toured Australia in 1984, is quoted by rugby journalist Terry Smith in Path to Victory as saying that, "If David Campese had been given more opportunity out wide, there's no saying the damage he could have done.'
Years later, Rope recalled that denying Campese opportunities was a crucial component of the All Blacks victory. In The Rise and Rise of Australian Rugby he recalls that:
|“||I still class that Australian backline as one of the finest I ever had against us when I was coaching the All Blacks. Our tactics were to get at Ella. Mark Ella was vital to the Wallabies and he was a thorn in our side. I found him a most difficult player to follow - I think sometimes even Mark didn't know what he was doing. He had this natural ability to prop and weave and kick off either foot and he could run the blind exceptionally well. He was the one you had to watch all the time. We put this pincer on him. We did bottle Ella in that Test and we left Michael Hawker getting bad ball from Ella and that's where we really did the damage, in that midfield, by slowing down Mark Ella and pinning Hawker, which didn't give Andrew Slack any chance to do much out at centre. Campese was nonexistent, really, in that game, because the ball wasn't getting to him. We did our job at nullifying them and it worked."||”|
1984 Grand Slam
Australia successfully completed the "Grand Slam" with the side which included Campese as well as Mark Ella, Nick Farr-Jones and Michael Lynagh. As of 2015 the 1984 series remains the only time the Wallabies have completed the Grand Slam.
Australia 19 - England 3 (London - 3 November 1984)
The Wallabies had a nervy start in the game against England, the first international test of the Grand Slam tour. Campese almost scored early on by chasing a high kick from Michael Lynagh. Australia settled later on after tries from Ella and Lynagh, before Campese was to make a break down the left leading to a try.
With 14 minutes left in the Test, Australia's left wing Brendan Moon suffered a broken arm in a tackle. Australian winger Matt Burke replaced Moon, moving to the right wing, and shifting Campese to play on the left wing.
In Path to Victory Terry Smith documents that:
- "The best try was the last, by Simon Poidevin. Picking up a loose pass under pressure, Gould fired a long, long pass to Ella, who somehow managed to pick it up at toenail height. In the same movement he sent David Campese away down the left wing. When challenged by the cover, Campese flicked an overhead pass to Poidevin, who was tailing faithfully on the inside. Poidevin strolled nonchalently over the line to touch down on the hallowed Twickenham turf. Lynagh converted to make the final score 19-3."
In Victorious Wallabies Terry Cooper records that:
- "Australia sealed their victory with three minutes remaining. An England move broke down. Gould grabbed the ball and a long, long infield pass fell at Ella's toes.
- Ella stooped forward, plucked the ball off the turf without breaking stride and sent Campese on a characteristic diagonal run. Campese sprinted 40 metres and seemed set to score, but Underwood did well to block him out. It did not matter. Campese merely fed the ball inside to Simon Poidevin - backing up perfectly, and not for the last time on tour - who nonchalantly strolled over the English line."
In For Love Not Money Australian flanker Simon Poidevin recalls that, "For the last of our three tries I was tailing Campese down the touchline like a faithful sheepdog when he tossed me an overhead pass and over I went to score the Twickenham try every kid dreams of."
Australia 16 - Ireland 9 (Dublin - 10 November 1984)
Three moments involving Campese are frequently cited in reports on Australia's Test against Ireland in 1984.
In Victorious Wallabies Terry Cooper reports that:
|“||...Australia squandered an opportunity to build on their lead. Campese sliced open the Irish defence and left Simon Poidevin and Burke with a classic two-to-one position. All Poidevin had to do was deliver the ball. He did so, after giving little hint that he wanted to beat MacNeill on his own. As he instinctively floated the pass... Burke had perpetrated a major crime - he had got ahead of the ball-carrier on the end of a scoring pass. He darted over the line and was inevitably recalled for a forward pass."||”|
In Running Rugby Mark Ella highlights this play as "An example of how a switch pass can result in a break." Ella gives a description of Campese's break by writing this:
|“||Mark Ella receives the ball from a lineout against Ireland in 1984 and prepares to pass to Michael Lynagh. Lynagh shapes to pass it to the outside-centre Andrew Slack... but instead slips it to David Campese in a switch play... Note that Lynagh has run at the slanting angle across the field which a switch play requires... Campese accelerates through a gap which the Irish number 8 has allowed to open by not moving across quickly enough. This Australian move had an unhappy ending. Campese passed to Simon Poidevin, who, with only the Irish fullback to beat, threw a forward pass to Matt Burke running in support, aborting a certain try.||”|
In For Love Not Money former Australian flanker Simon Poidevin recalls that, "Campo made a sensational midfield break, gave to me and [Matthew] Burke loomed up alongside me with their fullback Hugo MacNeill the only guy to beat. Burke was on my right, my bad passing side, and as I drew MacNeill I somehow threw the ball forward to him."
In Victorious Wallabies Terry Cooper further recalls that, "Nineteen minutes left... Australia went into overdrive and came within a fingernail of regaining the lead immediately. Ella kicked to Ireland's line and Campese's attempt to touch down was foiled by an unkind bounce."
In Path to Victory Mark Ella writes regarding the Test-winning try that he scored, involving Campese:
|“||I don't know what happened to the Irish breakaways, but when Michael Lynagh slipped inside his centre, I gave him the ball. Noddy went through the gap and I trailed round the back to get myself outside winger David Campese. Slacky was taken out of the play, but Matthew Burke had come from the other wing to link with Lynagh. Campo took Burke's pass and went inside with a big step. He took a couple of guys with him. Then he stepped out... Sometimes it's hard to get the ball off Campo, but he saw I was free and gave it to me."||”|
Rugby journalist Cooper further depicts Ella's Test-winning try:
|“||The only try of the game with five minutes to go and was truly worthy of winning a Test match. Farr-Jones launched Ella after Steve Cutler had achieved crisp line-out possession...Ella flipped the ball to Lynagh and the Irish defence prepared for the loop move. Instead Lynagh accelerated. Andy Slack was illegally taken out of the game and Lynagh was grateful to find Burke appear from the right wing in this leftwards movement. Campese took Burke's pass and had a glimpse of the line. When he realised that he could not quite make the line, he cleverly lured the final two tacklers towards him, leaving Ella free to accept the final passon the outside. Ella crossed unchallenged."||”|
Mark Ella gives a description of his Test-winning try in Running Rugby:
|“||The Australian try which resulted from this move at Landsdowne Road in 1984 can be traced to the failure of Ireland's open-side flanker to move up on Mark Ella at five-eighth. Noticing this... Ella keeps running with the ball as far as the advantage line before passing to the inside-centre, Michael Lynagh. The Irish compound the previous error by leaving a gap for Lynagh to run through... which he proceeds to do... while an Irish defender, perhaps out of frustration, takes out the outside-centre Andrew Slack, who is merely running in support. When finally checked... Lynagh neatly unloads to Matt Burke, running in from the blind-side wing. Burke is tackled about 10 metres from the tryline yet manages to pass to David Campese... Finding his way blocked by two Irish defenders, Campese sees at once that he cannot beat them himself. Instead, he sets out to draw both of them and so allow Mark Ella, moving up behind him, a clear run for the line. He does this brilliantly by stepping in... and then out... When finally he passes to Ella, ever ready to follow in support... Ella is able to cross the line unopposed.||”|
Australia 28 - Wales 9 (Cardiff - 24 November 1984)
When discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the then Australian coach, Alan Jones, Campese has often remarked of his attention to detail, his obsession of knowing everything about the opposition, and being able to exploit what may be a potential weakness in the opposition. He often uses the example of the Welsh game from 1984 to prove this. Jones had learned through his sources, that Eddie Butler, the Welsh number 8, had not played a game for three weeks and felt Australia should utilise the blind-side. "As a tactician, one of Jones' strong points was his ability to spot opposition weaknesses." Campese wrote in his tribute book David Campese,
- "Before we played Wales in 1984, he suggested he play the blinds. He had noticed the Welsh number 8, Eddie Butler, had not played for three weeks and he had a hunch he would not be fit. So the first chance I got I went down the blind side and from that we scored under the posts."
As Australian number 8 Steven Tuynman took the ball from the back of the scrum, he searched for Nick Farr-Jones, utilising the blind under Jones' command. Farr-Jones occupied Campese opposite winger and passed the ball to him, allowing Campese to run along the left wing. At the start of his run, Campese went past Butler, who was unable to make the defending tackle. But Campese's run was not over yet, he swerved past the Welsh fullback, and executed a wonderful sidestep to get past the Welsh inside center. Campese's sidestep led him toward a group of defenders, so he then offloaded to Simon Poidevin, who quickly passed the ball to Michael Lynagh who scored an easy try under the post. Australia won 28–9 in one of their greatest victories at the time.
Peter Jenkins in Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby writes that, "Farr Jones helped create another try by using the short side. Campese made a superb run, Poidevin backed up and Lynagh touched down."
Terry Cooper records in Victorious Wallabies that:
- "Australia's second try also came from a blind-side break. Farr-Jones again escaped after a scrum and he gave Campese room to move. The winger took off on a spectacular diagonal run towards the Welsh goal. His speed and unexpected direction created a massive overlap. The Welsh suddenly looked as though they had only ten players in action and all Australia had to do was to transfer the ball carefully. They did so. Campese to Poidevin and then on to Lynagh, who scored between the posts."
Terry Smith in Path to Victory wrote that, "Lynagh's second try came after Farr-Jones again escaped up the blind side from a scrum to set up a dazzling break by David Campese. Simon Poidevin's backing up didn't happen by accident either. He always tries to trail Campese on the inside.
Australia 37 - Scotland 12 (Murrayfield - 8 December 1984)
Campese scored two tries in the Test against Scotland - the first tries Campese scored at Test level on the 1984 Tour to the United Kingdom.
Campese's counter-attacking was on display early in the Test. Terry Cooper writes that, "Australia were keen to bring David Campese into the action in the first minutes and he gave Scotland a scare with one of his diagonal runs. He saw Ella in support and a try looked on when Peter Grigg came bustling up to join the attack, but Ella's pass to Grigg was forward."
Terry Smith in Path to Victory documents Campese's first try by writing that, "Australia won a scrum and Ella missed out Lynagh as Gould came thundering into the line to suck in the Scottish cover, exactly as planned. Slack ran on to Gould's pass and released David Campese with a wonderfully judged long feed."
- "Australia reclaimed the advantage in the 15th minute. They won a scrum 20 metres from Scotland's line. There was a big inviting open side on both sides of the scrum... Ella found Gould driving through from full back and Gould's quick transfer to Slack meant that the captain only had to find Campese for a certain try. It was not easy, for Campese had made his run very wide. But Slack successfully hurled the ball across the pitch to his wing, who trotted in at the corner."
Early in the second half, Australian fullback Roger Gould had the chance to pass to Campese for a possible try. Terry Cooper writes that, "There was Gould once more making the play and he had a choice of two colleagues to pass to as he approached Scotland's line. He chose Ella, the inside man. Ella's try meant that he had achieved the unique distinction of scoring a try in every Test."
Peter Jenkins in Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby writes that, "A superb Wallaby counterattack from deep inside their own territory, after winger Grigg had taken an intercept, ended with Campese scoring his second try of the game."
Toward the end of the game Campese booted the ball downfield. Australia's other winger, Peter Grigg, missed a tackle, allowing Scotland a possible chance to counter-attack. Grigg ran back toward the play, and intercepted the ball from Scottish prop Iain Milne. Rugby writer Terry Cooper writes that from this point:
- Grigg intercepted and ran back briefly towards his own line to link with his colleagues and to clear the onrushing Scots... It was obvious from the stand as soon as Ella received the ball that, provided Campese and Steve Tuynman could exchange passes out on the left, a try was on... Ella gave Campese room and Tuynman hung about waiting to play his part. Campese drew the last serious defender to him, flicked the ball to Tuynman and moved into place for the return. It worked like a dream and there was Campese with half the pitch to run and only John Beattie near him. Beattie did well to stay the same three metres behind Campese as they hurtled down the touchline, but there was never a doubt that Campese would score...Campese's effort won the try-of-the-tour award from the brewers.
Simon Poidevin in For Love Not Money writes that, "Finally, our fourth try was the most marvellous piece of counter-attacking you'd ever want to see. Griggy intercepted a Scottish pass, flicked it back and off we went until Campese straightened up, gave to Tuynman on the left flank and The Bird then turned it back in for Campo to make a 50-metre dash for the line."
Terry Smith in Path to Victory writes that:
- "The final Wallaby try was the counterattack to top them all. With Scotland now casting any inhibitions aside, winger Peter Grigg intercepted a pass deep in Australia's territory on the right... Grigg found Ella, whose long pass was taken by Campese, and fed out to Tuynman on the left flank. The No 8 broke clear and tossed a pass back infield to Campese, who blazed away to outpace the covering John Beattie in a sixty-metre sprint."
In the tribute book David Campese, Scottish rugby commentator Bill McLaren recalls Campese's try against Scotland:
- "So it was in Edinburgh, where in 1984 he had brought the Murrayfield crowd to its feet with a vintage performance culminating in a typically gorgeous try, that I caused him some embarrassment by thanking him for the vast pleasure he had given me in commentary at matches in which he had been involved."
Australia 37 - Barbarians 30 (Cardiff - 18 December 1984)
Australia played against the Barbarians one week after winning the Grand Slam. That match is perhaps best remembered for David Campese's zig-zagging run that turned Welsh centre Robert Ackerman inside out in the process, before Campese, opting not to run past Ackerman in the process of confounding him, but rather offered himself to be tackled before passing the ball to Michael Hawker for a try.
Campese and Ackerman had encountered a few personal scrapes with one another during different moments of their careers. Ackerman had previously played club rugby in Canberra not long before the Barbarians game, and according to Mark Ella in his book, Running Rugby, the two men did not get along with each other. After the Wallabies 1984 win against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park, Campese claimed Ackerman had buried his head in the dirt during the game, adding to a sense of tension between the two.
This tension further increased between the two, as Ackerman bumped into David Campese, Michael Lynagh and then Australian coach, Alan Jones, as they were entering the Angel Hotel in Cardiff. Ackerman walked up to the Wallabies coach and said in the presence of the two Australian backs, after Australia had beaten Wales 28–9, "Congratulations, I didn't think your backs were too good today."
In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese recalls that, "That very night in Cardiff, only hours after we had flogged Wales 28-9, their players turned up at the after-match dinner and one of them, Robert Ackerman, said: 'You can't say your players are better individually than ours. Man on man, there is little difference'."
Alan Jones described Campese's run in the tribute book David Campese by writing that:
- In particular, I shall never forget the Barbarians game at Cardiff Arms Park to end our Grand Slam tour of 1984. We weren't in such good shape – our discipline had surrendered to celebration after beating Scotland and we knew this was to be Europe's game of retribution against us. We seemed to be constantly counter-attacking to get out of trouble and then Campese struck. He made a break from within his own half, the defence came at him and he stepped left and right with remarkable speed. And in the twinkling of an eye, the try line was his. But he had one defender to beat, the Welsh centre Robert Ackerman. Ackerman, unfortunately, had criticised the Australian victory after our crushing victory in the Test against Wales and Campo didn't have the words to retaliate then. But he retaliated now, with his feet and hands. He turned Ackerman inside out, threatening to go past, then changing direction, offering himself to be tackled then accelerating away until the crowd erupted, first in disbelief, then in sheer amusement and joy at what they were seeing. One yard from the line, Campo passed to Michael Hawker, and I'm sure, to this day, the pass was forward, but the referee knew he had seen artistry of incomparable dimension at work and the only reward he could offer was a try, which he duly did. It's an image I'll always associate with Campese. It remains for me the metaphor of his career.
In Running Rugby Mark Ella described famous run against the Barbarians:
- If Campese wanted to, I am sure he could have sprinted for the corner and scored the try. Instead, he ran straight at Ackerman. The Welshman obviously knew enough about Campese to realise it was useless to try and tackle him front-on. Instead, he did what I suggested earlier that any defender should do against Campese – he ran with him. It was then that Campese began to zigzag, forcing Ackerman to zigzag, too, looking over one shoulder after another to see which way Campese was heading. I was following about 20 metres behind and could not believe what was happening. I have no doubt that Campese turned it on to make a personal point with Ackerman. When the defence eventually closed in on him, Campese flicked a pass over his shoulder to Michael Hawker, who scored the try.
In an Australia Broadcast Corporation rugby documentary entitled, The Rise and Rise of Australian Rugby, Ackerman admitted Campese could have passed him at any stage if he wanted to:
- "My line of thinking was is all I was trying to do in that time was to stall him. At the end of the day if he wanted to Campo could have just burnt me off on the outside. But I was just looking for a bit of cover and as it happened I did stall him and he didn't score that one. I was the player he made a fool of if anybody needs to remember."
Campese received praise for other moments in this game. Rugby writer Terry Cooper wrote that,
- "[Mark] Ella initiated one [try] by running from near his own line and David Campese toyed with Rob Ackerman in a 50 metre surge before giving [Michael] Hawker a scoring pass. Ella and Campese again linked and Campese this time sent Roger Gould over. The crowd were angered by what looked a forward pass from Ella to Campese and the referee was certainly not in the mood to spot a bit of obstruction as to move reached its climax."
Campese finished the 1984 Tour to the United Kingdom with six tries, two of them scored at Test level against Scotland.
Australia commenced their 1985 Test season with a two-Test series against Canada, in which Campese did not play due to injury." Campese also did not play in the single Bledisloe Cup Test in 1985, lost 9-10 to New Zealand. In Path to Victory former Australian rugby player Mark Ella wrote that, "Without David Campese, our backs seemed to have forgotten how to score tries."
Australia v Fiji (1985)
Campese returned to the Australian Test side later in 1985 for a two-Test series against Fiji. Australia won the first Test 52-28 and the second Test 31-9. In Path to Victory: Wallaby Power in the 1980s Mark Ella writes that, "Fiji's stand-out player is winger Senivalati Laulau, who can be devastating when he gets the ball. He looks ancient and probably is, but he's very fast and always gives David Campese a hard time. This says a lot for Laulau's ability."
Australia 39 - Italy 18 (Brisbane - 1 June 1986)
Campese scored two tries against Italy in Australia's first Test of the 1986 season, with what rugby writer Terry Smith in Path to Victory described as "probably his most complete display in Australia's colours."
Australia 27 - France 14 (Sydney - 21 June 1986)
Australia's won their second Test of 1986 against Five Nations champions France, 27-14. Campese was moved to fullback for the injured Roger Gould in a one-off game against France, scoring a try in the 26th minute."
Australia v Argentina (1986)
Campese continued to play at fullback in Australia's 1986 two-Test home series against Argentina, substituting for the injured Australian fullback Roger Gould.
Rugby writer Peter Jenkins in Wallaby Gold writes that, "David Campese ensured he would start the series against New Zealand in his favoured fullback role when he scored two of Australia's three tries in a whitewash of the Pumas. Deputising in the No.15 jumper for the sixth time in 24 Tests, Campese's running from deep had Argentina running scared. His first try followed a tight-head scrum win, snaffled by hooker Tom Lawton in the 22nd minute. Farr-Jones and Lynagh combined, and Campese crossed out wide... And midway through the second half, Farr-Jones fired a pass to Papworth, Campese arrived at top pace and was over next to the posts."
Rugby writer Terry Smith in Path to Victory writes that, "David Campese scored two slashing tries from fullback, the second quite sensationally executed. Campese hit the line like an express train and swept past the Pumas as though he had caught a succession of green lights. It was his sixth try in four Tests with four of them from fullback."
With Campese scoring tries at an amazing rate and providing Australia with a string of dazzling performances, Australian coach Alan Jones proclaimed David Campese to be "the Bradman of rugby". Jones expressed that Campese had a very special talent, and nobody in rugby had more talent. Jones' proclamation was well documented by the Australia media, and ultimately had a detrimental effect on Campese. As the weight of expectation grew, so too did the criticisms for any mistake Campese made.
1986 Bledisloe Cup Test Series
Campese was a member of the 1986 Australia Wallabies that defeated the New Zealand All Blacks in New Zealand. The 1986 Australia Wallabies became the second Australian rugby team to beat the New Zealand All Blacks in New Zealand in a rugby union Test series. They are one of five rugby union sides to win a rugby Test series in New Zealand, along with the 1937 South African Springboks, the 1949 Australian Wallabies, the 1971 British Lions, and the 1994 French touring side.
Campese played fullback in the first two Tests of the 1986 Test series versus New Zealand, before being moved to wing in the final Test.
1st Test: Australia 13 - New Zealand 12 (Wellington - 9 August 1986)
Three moments involving David Campese are frequently recorded in reports of the first Test against New Zealand in 1986. Rugby journalist Terry Smith records in Path to Victory that:
- "In spite of having the wind advantage, it took twenty-two minutes for Australia to break the spirited All Black defensive line with a try by fullback David Campese, his twentieth in twenty-five Tests. From a scrum win, Nick Farr-Jones made a glorious break on the open side, stumbled, and when tackled, Campese was there with razor-sharp reactions to toe the ball over the line and dive on it for a try that gave Lynagh a simple conversion."
Peter Jenkins in Wallaby Gold recalls that, "Halfback Farr-Jones made a break but lost his footing. The ball went to ground and fullback David Campese toed it ahead to touch down." He then further adds that "...Farr-Jones and inside centre Brett Papworth combined to feed Campese, who held up his pass to put winger Matthew Burke across for a 13-6 advantage."
Jenkins documents Campese's involvement in Australia's second try in Wallaby Gold by writing that, "From Farr-Jones, the ball spun to Brett Papworth, then to Campese, who held up the pass until winger John Kirwan was lured infield from Burke. Campese then tossed the ball to Burke, who pulled it in to have a clear run to the corner."
Peter Jenkins records that, "Campese, having scored one try and created another, had a significant role in the third, this time for the All Blacks. His infield pass when tackled near halfway finished in the arms of All Black centre Joe Stanley. He swept downfield and, when taken by Lynagh, slipped a pass to flanker Mark Brooke-Cowden for the try."
Terry Smith in Path to Victory also records this incident:
- Campese quickly went from hero to villain. Standing in a tackle near the sideline, he threw a madcap pass infield which was snapped up by Joe Stanley, the All Black centre. He sped clear before being pulled down short of the line in a desperate tackle by Lynagh. The damage had been done. Stanley popped up a pass to breakaway Mark Brooke-Cowden, who capped a superlative game by scoring a try beside the posts.
Campese in On a Wing and a Prayer records that, "At Wellington, where the first Test was held, I threw a poor pass towards Matt Burke. Joe Stanley gathered it after the ball bounced and the All Blacks eventually scored. We still won, but only just."
In For Love Not Money Simon Poidevin writes that:
- Australia won the Test, only just, by 13-12 on a wet and windy Athletic Park. Another one-point margin. We had it won more comfortably than it looked until David Campese, who was at fullback, made a mistake towards the end of the game. Standing in a tackle, he flicked the ball back infield where it was snapped up by All Black centre Joe Stanley who then popped up a pass as he was being tackled to breakaway Mark Brooke-Cowden for a try beside the posts. The easiest of conversions made it one point the difference, and in the dozen minutes remaining we had to tackle like mad dogs in the pierce wind and pelting rain to keep them out. We were tremendously relieved at fulltime...
Philip Derriman in The Rise and Rise of Australian Rugby records that, "Australia scored two tries to one, and Campese scored one of them. He also made an error which allowed the New Zealanders in for their only try, prompting Alan Jones to joke that this was the Test 'where Campo scored two tries - one for us and one for them.'
Following the Test Australian coach Alan Jones said of Campese that, "By scoring a try and setting up another, Campese more than cancelled out his late blemish." Jones went public with an assurance that Campese would be fullback for the remaining two Tests. A day following the first Test Campese is recorded as saying that, "I still feel sick about that pass. It was the worst moment of my life. I'll never forget the looks on the faces of the other guys."
Terry Smith records in Path to Victory that
- Instinctive genius Campese then volunteered he once had been told if ever he started thinking what he was going to do before he took the field, he should retire. 'I was thinking too much before the Test,' he admitted. 'I listened to everybody. Then I went out simply to be rock-safe and not make a mistake'
- Narked by constant claims that Campese is better suited to the wing, Jones shot back: 'New Zealanders are trying to get into Campo's mind. They want him to feel flawed and erratic when he plays fullback.'
Alan Jones writes in the tribute book David Campese that:
- ...he had a habit of adding to the script. It was the very quality which, most times, defined his greatness. But on this occasion, my heart leapt and our collective hopes sank as Campo hurled a 'Hail Mary' pass inside to be intercepted by New Zealand who scored under the posts. Suddenly a winning lead and victory were both at peril, but we survived. The next night at happy hour with the team, we had a concert where everybody had to put on an act. Steve Cutler chose a Wallabies' version of Sale of the Century and the first question was 'Who scored two tries at Eden Park on Saturday?' Now at first no-one did, because the score was 13-12 to us. But Cuts' answer was 'Campo. He scored one for us and one for them."
2nd Test: Australia 12 - New Zealand 13 (Dunedin - 23 August 1986)
Australia lost the second Bledisloe Cup Test of 1986 to New Zealand 12-13. Following the Test, claims were made that Australian coach Alan Jones made derogatory remarks about Campese's performance, after the fullback dropped a few 'high-kicks' in very wet conditions.
In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese states that, "I was playing full-back and dropped a few bombs the All Blacks put up to me. I had a far from spectacular game and we ended up losing. Afterwards, I went in to have a shower and I could see that Jonsey was very upset... But what right did our coach have to tell the other players, "Don't worry, fellows, you played without a full-back today'. I found that out two days later and you can imagine how I felt."
In For Love Not Money former Wallaby Simon Poidevin refutes such claims by Campese, "Tales of Jonsey screaming at Campese in the dressing-room immediately after the game for the poor way he played that afternoon was absolute nonsense. Nothing at all was said by anyone for nearly three-quarters of an hour, and the only noise I can recall was that of tough men openly sobbing from disappointment."
However, Poidevin's testimony is contradicted by an account published in Nick Farr-Jones: The Authorised Biography which states that: "...the coach turned to the other players and said in a far more conciliatory tone, 'Anyway, don't worry, men. You played without a full-back today.'
In On A Wing and a Prayer Campese asserts he later tried to apologise to Jones for his mistakes, which resulted in a verbal barrage of insults from Jones which lasted many minutes. In Nick Farr-Jones: The Authorised Autobiography a similar account is given by Farr-Jones, overhearing Jones' verbal barrage before Farr-Jones entered the room and attempted to calm the situation.
In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese recalls that, "I left that room feeling hurt and humiliated. I did something I virtually never do, as I said much earlier: I went out and got drunk. Outside in the Dunedin night the rain was trickling down the windows and the wind was blowing. It was cold and horrible, which exactly reflected my mood. The drops of rain on the windows could have been tears in my soul."
In David Campese Gordon Bray writes that, "So distraught was he in a nightclub a few hours later, that he declared he was ready to retire from rugby... The world's rugby enthusiasts can be grateful that Mark Ella consoled his teammate that night."
In Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby Alan Jones contested the accusations of slander saying:
|“||That's just rubbish. I'm sure I've said to someone with a smile on my face we played without a fullback today. And I'm sure it was Campo, after he's probably done one or two bad things and 15 good things. It would be like telling Miss World she was the ugliest person in the room when she knows full well she's the best looking bird who's ever set foot in the building. But it wasn't that day. That wasn't the day for that sort of stuff. But it doesn't matter. It's part of the folklore of the whole deal and it's one man's word against another's."||”|
3rd Test: Australia 22 - New Zealand 9 (Auckland - 6 September 1986)
In Path to Victory: Wallaby Power in the 1980s the Daily Mirror's Terry Smith writes that, "One very famous player was in danger of losing his Test spot in New Zealand until his team-mates urged Jones to retain him." Australian coach Alan Jones selected Campese on the wing for the final test instead of fullback. This Test marked the first time David Campese opposed All Black winger John Kirwan. Kirwan had missed the 1984 Bledisloe series due to injury. Campese had missed the 1985 Bledisloe Cup Test due to injury.
Peter Jenkins in Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby writes that, "A try to Campese sealed one of the greatest Wallaby wins." In Nick Farr-Jones former Wallaby and author Peter Fitzsimons writes that, "With seven minutes to go in the game, Farr-Jones took the ball from a quick ruck, darted away, and threw Campese a fifteen-metre pass, which set him up to run twenty metres to score, and put the Wallabies thirteen points ahead with five minutes to go. The match was sealed with the final score of Australia 22, New Zealand 9, and in the jubilations of it all Farr-Jones picked Campese up in the in-goal and put him over his shoulders."
In Path to Victory: Wallaby Power in the 1980s Mark Ella wrote: "It was good to see David Campese get that last try because by now he had no confidence at all. He was absolutely shot to pieces. It doesn't really matter in what position Campo plays as long as he sees the ball. It could be wing or it could be fullback. Nobody's going to argue he shouldn't be in the side. The main thing is to build up his confidence, and this can't be done if Campo is just going to chase all day and not see the ball."
In Two Mighty Tribes Australian rugby commentator Gordon Bray wrote that, "...to his great credit, he kept his eye firmly on the ball and eventually scored the Bledisloe Cup-clinching try in the third test at Eden Park. It was a measure of his self-belief and pride, and it demonstrated to the broader rugby community that his was not just another frail talent. There was strength of character to stiffen the extravagant skills."
1987 Rugby World Cup
In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese wrote that, "the first-ever World Cup, in 1987, was ultimately a disaster both for Australia and for me personally." Campese played throughout the entire 1987 World Cup impeded by injury. He writes that:
|“||...throughout the entire tournament I was hardly fit. I had bone scans and X-rays on a troublesome ankle injury but nothing showed up, and I played on in pain with reduced mobility. Three months later, a special scan revealed that I'd been playing with one bone in my ankle split in half. I'd taken pain-killers before each match, but they had had only a limited value. My effectiveness was reduced and, I suppose, looking back, I should not really have played.||”|
Campese missed Australia's first World Cup pool match against South Korea in Brisbane on 17 May 1987 due to injury. He returned for Australia's second World Cup pool match against England.
World Cup Pool Match: Australia 19 - England 6 (Sydney - 23 May 1987)
Campese was involved in the biggest controversy of his first World Cup game against England. Rugby writer Peter Jenkins in Wallaby Gold records that, "It took 10 minutes into the second half for Australia to score their first try, a controversial one, when Campese went across. He placed the ball on the knee of English rival Rory Underwood before it bounced away and Lynagh grounded it over the English line. But referee Keith Lawrence had already awarded the try to Campese...
Campese later confessed that, "The chief talking-point was the fact that I was awarded a try which I never touched down properly. It was not a score. It you study the video, it is obvious that I was not happy with the decision the referee made..."
Campese's defence in this Test was later criticised by Australian coach Alan Jones.
World Cup Pool Match: Australia 47 - USA 21 (Brisbane - 31 May 1987)
In Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby rugby writer Peter Jenkins documents that, "...individually, there had been some impressive moments. Winger Campese, criticised the week before by Jones for indifferent defence, received after this game a one-word endorsement from the coach: 'Fantastic.' Campese scored a try, his 23rd, just one short of the world record, and produced an inspired flick pass for halfback Brian Smith to cross.
World Cup Pool Match: Australia 42 - Japan 23 (Sydney - 3 June 1987)
Playing at fullback, Campese scored his 24th Test try in Australia's World Cup pool match against Japan, equaling the then world record for tries with Ian Smith of Scotland (1924–33).
World Cup Quarter-Final: Australia 33 - Ireland 15 (Sydney- 7 June 1987)
World Cup Semi-Final: Australia 24 - France 30 (Sydney - 13 June 1987)
The 1987 World Cup semi-final, played between Australia and France, has been described by Campese as "a great game of rugby, one of the very best in which I have ever played. Sensational things, like brilliant scores, started to happen in that game and we just carried on from there." Mark Ella in Running Rugby writes that, "I thought Australia's performance against France in the 1987 World Cup at Concord Oval was one of the most exciting I have seen, even though Australia lost the match on the bell. Brett Papworth and Andrew Slack were the centres, and David Campese was on the wing [Note: Campese played fullback in this Test], and they ran the ball brilliantly from everywhere."
Campese scored his world record 25th Test try after halftime, surpassing Scottish winger Ian Smith's 54-year-old record for most international Test tries. In Blindsided Michael Lynagh recalls the try that gave Campese the world-record for tries at Test level by writing that, "My dummy to wrong-foot Franck Mesnel and a step inside Philippe Sella set up a break deep inside French territory. As he usually did, Campo showed up at the end of the move to score in the corner after Peter Grigg popped the ball inside to him."
Rugby writer Peter Jenkins describes the final moments of the Test thus:
|“||Two minutes to go, scored locked 24-all, and 11 players handled before the brilliant Serge Blanco, the French fullback, made a graceful, effortless run for the corner. Where he was all poise, the defence was in panic. Hooker Tom Lawton, somehow calling on massive, weary thighs to carry him across in cover, made a desperate dive. Campese, too, was in on the chase. But Blanco was just out of reach. He skidded across the line, then raised himself to his knees, arms aloft, face alight.||”|
Campese later wrote that, "I was blamed for letting a kick from the French left wing, Patrice Lagisquet, bounce late in our semi-final against France at the Concord Oval, and the French picked up the loose ball to go on and score after a bewildering movement involving 11 passes. However, he later explained that, "The reason I did not catch Lagisquet's kick ahead near the end, when the scores were level at 24-24, was that I slipped in the mud trying to reach it."
World Cup Play-Off For Third: Australia 21- Wales 22 (Rotorua - 18 June 1987)
1987 Bledisloe Cup Test: Australia 16 - New Zealand 30 (Sydney - 25 July 1987)
Campese continued his injury-impeded 1987 season by playing in the one-off Bledisloe Cup Test of 1987, a month after the 1987 Rugby World Cup. Campese played on the right wing, and did not oppose his archrival John Kirwan in this Test.
In My Game Your Game Campese writes that, "It was not a memorable month or two, and later in the year I had to drop out of a major Wallaby tour for the one and only time in my career, when an x-ray of my ankle before we went to Argentina revealed the bone had cracked in half."
Australia v England (1988)
Campese returned to Test level rugby following his ankle injury in 1988 for the two-Test series against England. The first Test in Brisbane on 29 May was won by Australia 22 to England 16. The second Test in Sydney on 12 June was won by Australia 28 to England 8. Campese received acclaim from sports writer Peter Jenkins for his performance in the second Test:
|“||It was a Campese-led raid in the first half which led to a penalty goal, kicked by Lynagh, to give the Australians a 12-4 lead. Then, on the stroke of half-time, he glided off the wing into the five-eighth role, made the break and the play was carried on by outside centre Gary Ella, Williams and Lynagh, before Ella handled again to score for 18-4. Twelve minutes into the second stanza, Campese took a quick throw-in to Farr-Jones and supported his captain on the inside to take a return pass and touch down. He capped a memorable attacking display by providing the final pass for a Lynagh try that completed a record Australian win over England. 'He was superb', said coach Bob Dwyer in assessing the Campese impact.||”|
1988 Bledisloe Cup Test Series
Australia were easily beaten in the 1988 Bledisloe Cup. Campese marked All Blacks winger John Kirwan in the second and third Test. Kirwan scored four tries in the series. Campese later confessed that Kirwan's excellent performances against him affected his confidence.
1988 Australian rugby union tour of England, Scotland and Italy
Campese recovered from his disappointing 1988 Bledisloe Cup Series to enjoy one of his finest ever tours on the 1988 Australia rugby union tour of England, Scotland and Italy. In My Game Your Game Campese wrote that, "When I think back over my Test career, it seems most of my best performances have been outside Australia, such as the World Cup of 1991 in Britain, the Wallaby tour of the UK in 1988, and the Grand Slam trip in 1984. Andrew Slack in Noddy: The Official Biography of Michael Lynagh writes that, "Lynagh, more than most, recognises genius, and he admitted the performances of Campese throughout that tour were certainly in that class."
Australia 19 - England 28 (London - 5 November 1988)
Campese played in a shock-loss to England at Twickenham in 1988. Jenkins writes that, "Australia scored three tries to England's four - including a 70-metre intercept effort from Campese..."
Australia 32 - Scotland 13 (Edinburgh - 19 November 1988)
Campese scored two tries in a 32-13 victory over the Scottish rugby team, in which Australia scored five tries to Scotland's two. Former Wallaby captain Andrew Slack, author of Noddy: The Official Biography of Michael Lynagh, wrote that, "Australia won 32-13 and although Lynagh was successful with only five kicks from eleven attempts, two delicate chip kicks provided tries for David Campese and ensured the restoration of Australia's rugby reputation." Slack further wrote that, "Campese had been the undoubted star of the tour, and that was made clear by the four youngsters who ran up and down the Murrayfield pitch after the game waving a large banner reading 'David Campese Walks on Water.'
Australia 40 - 22 Barbarians (Cardiff - 26 November 1988)
In Noddy: The Authorised Biography of Michael Lynagh, Andrew Slack wrote that, "The match against the Barbarians in Cardiff featured one of Campese's greatest-ever performances and the Welsh crowd afforded him the rare honour of a standing ovation as he left the field. The Australian players were similarly impressed and held back after the full-time whistle to allow Campese the chance to walk off first...
In Campo: Still Entertaining Campese writes that Cardiff Arms Park is "Certainly the venue I have fondest memories of after a standing ovation the crowd there gave me in 1988. It was during a Barbarians match, and my attacking game was about as finely-tuned as it had ever been. I had made a couple of really good runs and, after setting up one try and scoring another, the crowd got to their feet and clapped me back to halfway. I'll never forget it."
In the tribute book David Campese, Campese's try against the Barbarians is listed as the try Campese regards "as his best try in international rugby."  In the same book Scottish rugby commentator Bill McLaren wrote that:
|“||There was another ovation, just as deafening, at Cardiff Arms Park in 1988 at the climax of the traditional end-of-tour Barbarians match. David Campese capped an exhilarating Australian performance with a gem of a try when he glided outside Gavin Hastings, swept inside Matt Duncan then, with a feint off his right foot and one off his left foot, he left Jonathan Davies trailing in his wake before dotting down behind the posts. It was a masterpiece of deceptive running and it brought from the Cardiff Arms Park audience the most moving acknowledgment of sheer wizardry that I can ever remember. The ovation lasted for ages and I can remember my own reaction: 'Sheer Genius from the moment he received the ball. The great swashbuckler has rung down the curtain with the touch of a magician.'||”|
In My Game Your Game Campese wrote that:
|“||We went down the blindside, Nick Farr-Jones got the ball, gave it to Lloyd Walker and he gave it to Michael Cook. Cookie threw it to me, and along the way, I remember running wide to beat Gavin Hastings, then stepping off my left foot because I saw Jonathan Davies coming across in cover. I went back off my right foot to pass him and eventually scored under the posts. As I headed back to halfway, the other boys in the team started clapping. I think Michael Cook had started it all, and I joined in because I thought it had been great work by all the team.... The crowd were on their feet, and a lot was made of that later. They said it was the first standing ovation accorded a foreign player since the Arms Park sang 'He's a jolly good fellow' to the former All Black captain Wilson Whineray back in 1963.||”|
In Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby Peter Jenkins wrote that Campese's "brilliance was accorded a standing ovation at Cardiff Arms Park after the Wallabies played the Barbarians in their final match of the UK leg. His bewildering run for a solo try, where defenders were turned in circles so many times that staggered dizzily back to position, has been scripted into the folklore of the once-famous ground..."
In Running Rugby Mark Ella described a run Campese made in this Test by writing that:
|“||David Campese displays his peerless skills on the wing against the Barbarians on the Australians' tour of the British Isles in 1988. Probably because the referee has got in the way, the halfback, Nick Farr-Jones, cuts out Michael Lynagh and passes to the inside-centre, Lloyd Walker who, in turn, throws a cut-out pass to Andrew Leeds. The ball reaches Campese so quickly that he is temporarily unmarked, although the Barbarians centres are running across to cover him. Campese beats both centres on the inside but soons runs into a congestion of Barbarian defenders and finds himself surrounded by now fewer than seven of them. Campese dummies and somehow manages to slice through a gap between them, then proceeds to step past another defender barring his way. Finally, Campese slips over while trying to step around another defender but still manages to keep the ball alive. His brilliant run has taken play from 15 metres inside his own half almost to the Barbarians' 22-metre line.||”|
Australia 55 - Italy 6 (Rome - 3 December 1988)
Campese concluded the Australian Wallabies 1988 Tour to Europe with three tries against Italy in Rome.
Australia v British Lions (1989)
The British Lions toured Australia for a three-Test series in 1989, which Australia lost 1-2. The series is perhaps best known for "Campo's Corner" - a mistake Campese made in the third and deciding Test in the series. Peter Jenkins in Wallaby Gold describes it thus:
|“||Campo's corner, it came to be known. The patch of turf at the Paddington end of the Sydney Football Stadium, on the eastern side of the ground, where a wayward pass gave the Lions a try and catapulted wing genius David Campese into controversy.||”|
1st Test: Australia 30 - British Lions 12 (Sydney - 1 July 1989)
In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese details the first Test by recalling that:
|“||We met the Lions in the first Test on 1 July, we knew they had several big forwards, so we thought we would try to move them around the paddock to see how quickly they would cover the ground. The answer was pretty slowly. Jeff Miller won a lot of ball on the ground, Scott Gourlay rampaged around the place, and although the ball rarely got out as far as me on the wing, I could see that we were adopting some pretty sensible tactics and that they were working well. Michael Lynagh kicked the goals when he had the chance, but no one could say we relied on penalties to win. We outscored the Lions by four tries to nil, and our win, 30-12 from a half-time lead of 15-6, was conclusive.||”|
2nd Test: Australia 12 - British Lions 19 (Brisbane - 8 July 1989)
In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese documents that, "...the second Test was a disaster for us. We still led the Lions 12-9 with under five minutes remaining, but we had been badly put off our game. The Lions had done that, plainly and simply, by intimidating us." He further states that:
|“||The Lions didn't have much style, apart from when Gavin Hastings scored his try near the end. By then, under all the belting and intimidation we had taken, we had been knocked out of our concentration, and not surprisingly. We forgot to run the ball and to move the Lions pack around again; we kicked it, and not always very well. My feeling was that if we had really run the ball at them we would have buried them. But we were sucked into the battle they went out looking for, and we paid the penalty. We lost the Test in the last five minutes by 19-12.||”|
Rugby journalist Wayne Smith in The Sunday Mail wrote that, ""But in the space of the final five breathtaking minutes, the Lions pulled their tour out of the fire with two stunning tries - the first by fullback Gavin Hastings, the second by centre Jeremy Guscott.
"There was more than a degree of doubt about the legality of Hastings’ try, as the huge final pass from his brother Scott appeared forward, but the match-clincher three minutes later by Guscott could be traced back directly to Australian left winger David Campese, who dropped two high balls in the space of a minute."
In Blindsided Michael Lynagh writes that, "For the second Test up in Brisbane the Lions had a specific method. It was, 'Let's target their halfback.' They figured that they couldn't stop guys like Campo and me running the game, so they thought, 'Okay, how do we stop the ball getting to them? Let's cut off the supply.' So they decided to upset our captain, Nick, by basically making the game one long physical fight. It worked... Once they'd upset Nick. they started kicking at Campo, kicking behind him, putting pressure on him all the time. The Lions were just a different team from the first Test.
In Beware of the Dog: Rugby's Hard Man Reveals All, Lions’ hooker Brian Moore recollects that, "...I had been on the Lions tour in 1989 when Campese, though a brilliant attacking force, had demonstrated his dislike of fielding high kicks; particularly the possibility of also being caught by a pack of forwards only too happy to be given a chance to answer his fulsome criticism of them in their own way."
3rd Test: Australia 18 v British Lions 19 (Sydney - 15 July 1989)
In On a Wing and a Prayer, writing about the 3rd Test between Australia and the British Lions from 1989, Campese states: "That Test created a memory of me which I suppose some people will retain to their dying day."
|“||In the first half of the decider, the Lions dominated all phases of play, but like a terrior unprepared to let go its grip, Australia defended tenaciously. When Lynagh set up Ian Williams for the only try prior to half-time, it was 9-all and the Lions had nothing to show for their territorial superiority. The Australian players were aware that if they could break clear early in the second half, frustration might slow the British down, and the Wallabies could at last get in front. A Lynagh penalty straight after the resumption was the ideal tonic, and it seemed the Bulldog spirit finally had been cracked. Five minutes later, disaster struck.||”|
|“||Six minutes into the second half, Australia was ahead 12-9 when the Lions' five-eighth Rob Andrew attempted a field goal to even the score. He missed, but the Lions struck gold anyway. The ball drifted out to the right and into the hands of Campese standing in-goal. Standard procedure on such an occasion is to simply ground the ball in the in-goal, which would have allowed Australia to restart the play twenty-two metres downfield.
Never a man for the boring and predictable, Campese took the exhilerating option, which was to run it and, when the Lions' defence mounted, suddenly he threw a pass to Wallaby fullback Greg Martin. Taken by surprise Martin fumbled, and Lions winger Ieuan Evans, on the fly, gleefully fell on the ball for the easiest of tries.
In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese gives a description of his mistake:
|“||...when Andrew missed a dropped goal, I was immediately aware that Greg Martin was loose outside me. I was thinking of where he was and wasn't watching Evans' position. It was my fault because I tried to step inside and pass at once, thinking that Evans would come with me. In fact, when I passed, he was in between me and Martin, and when I threw such a hopeless pass he had the simple job of touching it down for the score...There was no way Martin was to blame; it was completely my fault. The orthodox thing to do would have been to belt the ball into touch, of course, but then orthodox methods have never appealed to me very much. Besides, any normal player would have done that. I still believe that the idea was perfectly sound; it was just that the execution went wrong.||”|
In The Rise and Rise of Australian Rugby Philip Derriman writes that:
|“||In fact, the late Jack Pollard, author of Australian Rugby: The Game And The Players, always maintained that Campese's idea that day was a good one. Pollard happened to be sitting adjacent to where the incident occurred, so he had a good view of it. He said that the Lions' defence on that side of the field was under-manned and that there was a real opportunity for a counterattack, which Campese obviously recognised. If Martin had taken the pass, Pollard said, Australia might have scored instead of the Lions. So in Pollard's view it was a clever move - just poorly executed.||”|
In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese writes that:
|“||I think I should have gone myself because it was certainly a position to exploit. There was space and time to get out from out line and attack hard, perhaps as far as halfway or even further. But I felt sure that Evans would come with me to leave Martin a free run outside me. I suppose, subconsciously, I didn't attack the situation as hard or as directly as I would have done had I been alone.||”|
Campese's error made the scoreline 12-13, following Gavin Hastings missed conversion, costing Australia four points. The Lions forwards took over the Test, and surged ahead to a 19-12 lead. Campese records in his autobiography that, "We were 19-12 down but closed the gap to 19-18 with two more penalties from Lynagh. Andrew Slack records that, "Despite two late Lynagh goals the Lions went on to win 19-18. Campese became the target for a virulent press and the blunder has become one of the most notorious incidents in the recent history of the game."
Campese further records in his autobiography that following the Test not one Australian player spoke to him or offered him any consolatory remarks. Only Australian coach Bob Dwyer approached Campese following the Test and said, 'Mate, forget it. It's one of those things.' Campese writes that, "No one will ever know how much that meant to me then." In Blindsided Michael Lynagh recalls that during the after-match reception the Lions began to buy Campese champagne. Campese left the after-match reception after "20 minutes or so" and drove home. While on his way home a police officer booked him for speeding at 104 kmh in a 60 kmh zone.
Peter Jenkins in Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby records that:
|“||While Campese was widely blamed for losing the Test and the series, coach Bob Dwyer said after the match: 'I don't think that try cost us the match at all.' The Australians were beaten in the forwards, unable to control a Lions pack spearheaded by backrowers Mike Teague and Dean Richards, prop David Sole and second-rower Paul Ackford. The Australians were under pressure in the scrum, losing one with the feed on the opposition line, and on several occasions were stripped of the ball at the breakdown.||”|
In The Winning Way former Australian coach Bob Dwyer writes that, "They exposed our vulnerability, mentally, to the kind of bully-boy tactics they employed... there was a mental attitude prevailing in the Australian team in the late 1980s which made Australia a soft target for any team which sets out to unsettle it with foul play."
|“||Open warfare was predicted for the decider, but an exciting game of rugby broke out instead, decided on the scoreboard by Australia wing David Campese's error that gifted a try to his opposite number, Ieuan Evans, but in reality won by a performance of complete control from the Lions pack.||”|
In essence, Campese's famous blunder may have been how the Lions series was lost, but not necessarily why.
Campese stated he felt the whole incident was blown out of proportion, and that to single out one mistake in a game where many mistakes can be made is silly. Campese has often expressed his view that losing the tighthead on the opposition line was also a horrible mistake made at a crucial moment.
The day following the 3rd Test versus the Lions, Campese commented to Peter Jenkins, rugby writer for The Australian, that he felt like retiring.
Peter Fitzsimons documents in Nick Farr-Jones: The Authorised Autobiography that, "...a brief media storm erupted over the next few days to decide, in the words of the Australian rugby writer Greg Campbell, whether Campese was a 'legend or a liability'." Wayne Smith in The Sunday Mail wrote, "How much longer can the Wallabies afford to carry a player who appears to feel the mundane, humdrum basics of rugby are beneath his extraordinary talents and who places applause ahead of responsibility to his teammates?" In the same paper former Australian captain Andrew Slack wrote that Campese should not even be considered for a place in the tour-closing Anzac XV side. Slack wrote that, "Campese, who comes and goes as he chooses, makes too many ‘one-off’ bad mistakes when wearing the green and gold." He further opined that, "His teammates deserve to be, and undoubtedly will be, disgusted with him."
In My Game Your Game Campese writes that:
|“||Andrew Slack...was one critic who joined the bloodlust after the British Lions series in 1989. He said the 'spaghetti Rugby' in Italy was partly to blame for my performance. I found it very tough, having played with the guy for so many years and considered him a friend, to accept he was now writing this sort of stuff about me... I must admit I'm at the stage now where I've lost a lot of respect for Slacky after some of the things he has written. I don't understand how you can be a friend one minute and rip into your mate the next.||”|
In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese writes that:
|“||My rugby in Italy was dragged into it and blamed - ridiculous! For one mistake? When I played alongside Slacky I thought he was a great guy, but I have to say that the scenario in which a former mate can take you to the cleaners in the papers just because he's joined the journos' ranks isn't the most appealing to me. I suspect it wouldn't appeal to a great many other players, either. I hope I never get myself into a position where I start publicly slagging off guys I just finished playing alongside. To me, there is something basically wrong with that.||”|
Slack defended himself as the author of Michael Lynagh's biography saying that, "Although accepting the blame, Campese reacted poorly to the criticism that followed... Sure, other players may not have performed at their best at some stages of the game, but one incident lost them the contest and that was Campese's error." Slack further criticised Campese for hypocrisy. Responding to criticisms that Campese made regarding Michael Lynagh for his performance in the first Test against France from 1990, Slack wrote that,
|“||It was somewhat ironic that in the same book, Campese indicated how disappointed he was that former team-mates could be critical of him in the press. 'I hope I never get myself into a position where I start publicly slagging off guys I have just finished playing alongside,' he wrote. The subtle difference must have been that Campese hadn't just finished playing with the men he was criticising.||”|
In response to the rush of criticisms aimed at Campese, Nick Farr-Jones, the then Australian captain, wrote a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper defending Campese on 19 July 1989 writing that, "To Campo I say: Yes, one bad mistake on Saturday which I know you will learn from, but, mate, if I was a selector you would always be one of the first picked, with no handcuffs or chains to inhibit you." 
In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese writes that, "I can honestly say that even six months after that match, some Australian journalists who used to call me at all hours of the day and night when it suited them had still not spoken to me. Not that I was heartbroken at that state of affairs, but it brought home to me the way some of those guys react."
The harsh reaction to Campese's error did not subside. His brother Mario was attacked outside a pub. When asked if he was the brother of David Campese, the simple answer of "yes" lead to a punch. To protect Campese's sensitive frame of mind, his family concealed his brother's attacking for months to prevent him from becoming more emotionally upset.
In My Game Your Game Campese later confessed that
|“||I saw the World Cup as a great way to say thanks very much, I've had a lot of great memories, and out I go. So there was a bit of a revenge motive for me to get back at those people who only want to remember the bad things David Campese does. My mood was not helped when we got to a dinner at the start of the World Cup, and there, in the official publication for the tournament, was an advertisment for a music store. The full-page ad, for a range of Rugby videos, featured a photograph of me with a headline reading 'Watch him fumble whenever you want'. It went on to say 'Campo's cock-up against the Lions in 1989 is a moment all Brits will enjoy reliving'.||”|
Campese later spoke to Australian captain Nick Farr-Jones, a lawyer by profession, if he could take legal action over the ad. However, no legal proceedings eventuated.
Campo's Corner has been forever since linked with Campese's legacy of highs and lows. As a rugby player heavily into credit when weighing his positive contributions against his negative contributions to the game of rugby, people have tended to ponder upon his weaknesses; this is partly due to the strong memory of Campo's Corner.
1989 Bledisloe Cup Test: Australia 12 - New Zealand 24 (Auckland - 5 August 1989)
Campese played in the one-off Bledisloe Cup Test in 1989 between Australia and New Zealand. The Test, which Australia lost 12-24, contains a Campese try. Australia's eightman Steve Tuynman took the ball from the back of a scrum and passed the ball to Nick Farr-Jones. Farr-Jones passed the ball to Campese, who stepped around John Kirwan causing him to slip over. Campese then passed to Farr-Jones who had looped him. As Farr-Jones and Campese were running down the sideline, and with Farr-Jones about to be tackled into touch, Campese pointed forwards signalling Farr-Jones to kick the ball forwards. Farr-Jones executed a grubber kick. Campese and All Blacks inside centre John Schuster were engaged in a sprint towards the ball. As Schuster tried to dive on the ball, Campese was able to kick the ball forwards and fall upon it.
Australia v France (1989)
In late 1989 Australia played a two-Test series against France. The two-Test series marked what would be the start of five consecutive Tests that Australia would play against France from 1989 to 1990.
Australia 32 - France 15 (Strasbourg - 4 November 1989)
In the first Test in Strasbourg, France suffered what was then its biggest defeat on its soil with a score of 32 to 15. It was also Australia's then highest score against France and their biggest ever winning margin against France.
Following a halftime score of 10-12, Australia scored three of its four tries in the second half. Campese scored the third of these four tries by recovering a high-kick from Nick Farr-Jones that wasn’t properly fielded by French winger Stéphane Weller. Campese was involved in Australia's fourth and final try by occupying French centre Philippe Sella with a goosestep, before delivering the final pass to Tim Horan who scored his second try in the Test.
Former Australian rugby union captain Nick Farr-Jones later described Australia's 1989 Test in Strasbourg as his favourite moment as an international rugby union player. Five Australian players made their Test debut: Jason Little, Brendon Nasser, Peter FitzSimons, Rod McCall, and Darren Junee (who played as a substitute). Australian hooker Phil Kearns, prop Tony Daly, and centre Tim Horan played their second Tests for Australia in that Test. The Test also marked the first time Austranian centre combination Tim Horan and Jason Little played in tandem with one another for Australia.
Australia 19 - France 25 (Lille - 11 November 1989)
Australia v France (1990)
In 1990 Campese was dropped from an Australian Test side for the first time since his debut for the Wallabies in New Zealand on the 1982 tour. Campese was omitted because he did not return early enough from Italy and therefore Australian selectors could not assess his form in a club match.
2nd Test: Australia 48 - France 31 (Brisbane - 24 June 1990)
Campese returned for the second Test against France in what Australian Rugby Union president Joe French described as the best Test match of rugby he had ever seen. Described by Simon Poidevin as "a breathtaking 48-31 victory" which "will go down in history as one of the finest ever played", he writes that:
|“||The match contained ten tries and produced one short of 80 points. The 48 points scored by Australia is the most it has scored against an International Rugby Board member country. The try count of six, which included a penalty try, was also the highest number of tries scored against a fellow IRB country.
Described by Andrew Slack as a "ten-try bonanza", Welsh referee Clive Norling came under scrutiny by Slack who commented, "A close study of the video replay shows that Norling made at least six major mistakes, five of which led to points before scored." In Noddy Slack writes that, "As Lynagh lined up for goal, there was Norling nattering away in the background. 'Great swerve by Campese. Good advantage played there, boyo.'
Perhaps the most well-documented moment of the Test came when French fullback Serge Blanco beat a Campese tackle to score a try. Simon Poidevin recalls that, "...the one memory which stands out is the amazing try scored by Serge Blanco. Taking the ball on his own line, the French captain sliced between Carozza and Little on the quarter line before swerving past Campese at halfway. Then Blanco beat Williams, Carozza and Campese in the run to the line to score one of the greatest individual tries of all time."
In Campo: Still Entertaining Campese selected Blanco at fullback in his greatest international XV of all-time team, writing that, "In 1990 we played France in a three-Test series at home before a tour of New Zealand, and Serge scored one of the greatest international tries during the second game in Brisbane. He carried the ball about 80m for the score and never once looked like he was getting out of second gear. Because of that languid running style, Blanco was deceptively quick, as we found out that afternoon..."
However, Campese would score the final try of the Test by running past Blanco. Australia had a scrum inside France's 22 in front of the goal-posts. Campese stood on the left-hand attacking side of the scrum. As Farr-Jones took the ball from the back of the scrum and started to run to the right, Campese followed Nick Farr-Jones. Nick Farr-Jones shaped to pass the ball to Australian eightman Tim Gavin, which held-up Blanco and French eightman Olivier Roumat. Nick Farr-Jones passed to Campese, who ran through a gap and past Blanco before evading Roumat coming across in cover defence, to score a try untouched.
3rd Test: Australia 19 - France 28 (Sydney - 30 June 1990)
Campese played in the third Test against France in Sydney, which was lost 19-28. However, this Test marked a milestone for Campese. He became just the second person, after Simon Poidevin, to play 50 Test matches of rugby for Australia. He also capped this Test with the 36th try in Test match rugby.
Australia 67 - U.S.A. 9 (Brisbane - 8 July 1990)
Prior to Australia's 1990 three-Test tour to New Zealand, Australia played a one-off Test against the U.S.A, in which Campese played. The Test contains the only instance in Campese's career where he successfully completed a drop-goal. Campese also scored a try.
1990 Bledisloe Cup Test Series
Australia 6 v New Zealand 21 (Christchurch - 21 July 1990)
Campese played his 52nd Test for Australia in Australia's first Test against New Zealand in 1990, becoming the most capped Australian rugby player in history, surpassing Simon Poidevin's record of 51 Tests. Poidevin had made himself unavailable to play for Australia on Australia's 1990 tour to New Zealand. In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese recalls that:
- "Scotland had lost both Tests against the All Blacks earlier in the season but the second, in Auckland, had been close: the Blacks just sneaked home by 21-18. Perhaps that persuaded people that, in the light of our Test series win over the French, we were favourites. Whoever made public that sentiment did us scant favour. We were lulled into a false sense of security and yet, on the day, we were also intimidated because we didn't play our natural game, preferring instead to sit back and wait for them to come at us. Also, we didn't kick well that day, particularly Michael Lynagh. I hardly saw the ball, and when I did I was clobbered. Not feeling the ball in my hands destroys me anyway; I cannot take it. That day we were more afraid of making a mistake, worrying about who we were playing against, rather than getting on with our own game. And when we did run it we were totally predictable. The Blacks knew the ball would head out to me when it was shifted, and so whenever I got it they hammed me."
Playing on the left wing, Campese opposed All Blacks right-wing John Kirwan. Kirwan scored a try by running onto a cut-out pass sprinting at full pace, and out-running Campese to score a try in the corner.
Australia 17 v New Zealand 27 (Auckland - 4 August 1990)
Campese was selected at fullback for the second Test against New Zealand, replacing Greg Martin who was dropped following the first Test. All Blacks hooker Sean Fitzpatrick scored a try early in the Test, after All Blacks winger John Kirwan ran down the blindside, fended off Nick Farr-Jones, and was able to pass the ball inside to Fitzpatrick while being tackled by Campese. Campese responded later in the Test by passing the ball to Willie Ofahengaue for a try while being tackled by opposing All Blacks fullback Kieran Crowley. Ofahengaue powered over a Kirwan attempted tackle. In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese remembers that:
- "By the second Test at Eden Park, Auckland, we had improved a lot. It was a Test match we could have won, rather than should have won. Had our wing from Randwick, John Flett, touched the ball down when he reached the New Zealand line, we could have made 20-17 with the kick to come - considering we had come back from the dead, we were on a roll. But John lost the ball over the line and our hopes disappeared with that lost, bouncing ball. The Blacks, typically, made good their fortune by getting down to the other end and scoring the points which made such they clinced not only the Test but also the series. Another series against New Zealand had gone west; we were plunged into the ultimate depression."
Following Flett's missed opportunity, the All Blacks went downfield. John Kirwan ran down the blindside, and fended Campese off at fullback, before slipping a pass to New Zealand halfback Graeme Bachop, who slipped under a Campese tackle-attempt to score the final try of the Test.
Australia 21 - New Zealand 9 (Wellington - 18 August 1990)
Australia defeated New Zealand in the third Bledisloe Cup Test of 1990, ending New Zealand's winning streak of 50 games including 23 Tests. In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese writes that:
- "We knew we could have played better in that Test [the second Test]. The fact that we had got so close to the Blacks proved we were close to them in ability, and when it came to the third Test in Wellington, we had a sense of giving everything to salvage our reputation. New Zealand had not won a Test match against Australia in Wellington since 1982. Not so long ago, you might think, but let me tell you, that is a lifetime by New Zealand's standards. And what happened that day really angered me. We played as though our lives depended on it; we tackled them as though they were demons; we knocked them back and we kept at them, mercilessly hounding them when they had possession and flattening them in some shuddering tackles. Not surprisingly, it won us the Test, but immediately apparent was the question: why the hell hadn't we played like that in the first two Tests?"
Australia 63 - Wales 6 (Brisbane - 21 July 1991)
Campese played in Australia's first Test of the 1991 season against Wales, which was won by Australia 63-6. Campese scored one try in the Test. He would later write that it was "...a Test that resembled a training run for the Wallabies."
Australia 40 - England 15 (Sydney - 27 July 1991)
England toured Australia in 1991 for one Test. England were Five Nations champions having won the Grand Slam in 1991.
Campese scored two tries against England. With Australia leading 9-6, Campese's first try was scored "on the half-hour" when Australian captain Nick Farr-Jones executed a "box-kick" that exposed England's outside backs following a "22 drop-out." Campese received a favourable bounce and scored a try.
Campese scored his second try after some interplay between Australia's backrow and backs from the back of a scrum. From the back of a scrum, Nick Farr-Jones passed the ball to Tim Horan, while Australia's eightman Tim Gavin and Farr-Jones both looped Horan. Gavin received a pass from Horan and passed the ball to Farr-Jones, who occupied Campese's opposing winger, and passed the ball to an unmarked Campese, who scored the try.
Campese would later write that "...of all the Test matches I've played, this would be the closest to perfection any Australian side has reached." He further added that "technically we just couldn't be faulted."
1991 Rugby Union World Cup
David Campese once said, "I want to be remembered like Barry John in Wales. I want people to look back and say Campo did this, this and this." After the 1991 Rugby World Cup former Welsh rugby great Barry John said, "Like Pelé, he is associated with the very best and historic moments in sport; he has a special genius which shows an individual can still paint his own portrait and leave an indelible mark for all to treasure. The ingredients are all the same: stature, presence, personality, style and an immense belief in the God-given talents."
David Campese was named Player of the Tournament for the 1991 Rugby World Cup. French rugby newspaper Midi-Olimpique named Campese number one in its World Rugby Top 10. Moreover, Campese was voted the 1991 Australian Society of Rugby Writers Player of the Year. Sports writer Peter Jenkins documented that "...winger David Campese produced sustained brilliance at the World Cup to be hailed, indisputably, as the greatest player in the world... Former World Cup winning Australian flanker Simon Poidevin described Campese as "our undoubted star" and praised him for playing "the best he'd ever played". He further called him "the best attacking player in the world" and "definitely the star performer in the World Cup". Former Wallaby and author Peter FitzSimons has said that "in attack... he was without peer..."
1991 World Cup Pool Match - Australia 39 - 19 Argentina (Llanelli - 4 October 1991)
Australia started the 1991 Rugby World Cup with a pool match against Argentina, in which Campese scored two tries and created a third. In Wallaby Gold: The History of Australian Test Rugby rugby writer Peter Jenkins writes that:
|“||David Campese, from the outset of Australia's World Cup campaign, stamped the tournament with his genius. Two tries and a final pass for another, scored by centre Tim Horan, provided the safety net for a Wallaby side that failed to ignite on a team package basis. Campese, coolly leaning against a goalpost one minute, was shredding the Pumas' defence the next. Spiro Zavos, in the Sydney Morning Herald, wrote: 'Watching the winger beat three Argentinians to score his first try, then burst through explosively for a second... was reminiscent of Kenneth Tynan's tribute to the beauty of Greta Garbo: "What men see in women when they are drunk, they see in Garbo when they are sober." So too, rugby maneuvers which good players must only dream about doing in drunken stupors, David Campese does every time he plays.||”|
Sports commentator Peter Meares and rugby author Maxwell Howell give an account of Australia's first 1991 World Cup Pool Match in Wallaby Legends, "The Pumas made a game of it for the first twenty minutes, rarely allowing the Wallabies any possession. Whatever scraps came Australia's way were booted downfield by Michael Lynagh... Campese hadn't touched the ball. The body language said it all. He stood, hands on hips, legs crossed, leaning against a goalpost." Campese later recalled that "...I took a breather at one stage by leaning against a goalpost. I remember being asked how I could do such a thing during an important game. It was no big deal. Argentina had already had a few scrums on our line, and they were intent on getting a pushover try." Meares and Howell write that:
|“||Finally, a kick-through was fielded by Marty Roebuck. He counter-attacked, swerving out forwards the left wing. He fed Campese - a step off the left foot, a step off the right and then a burst of blistering pace - he was through and over. Five minutes later and he was in again, this time chiming into the backline and scooting through a chink in the Pumas' defence. In the second half he sent Tim Horan over for another try and the Wallabies were home 32-19.||”|
1991 World Cup Pool Match - Australia 9 - Western Samoa 3 (Pontypool - 9 October 1991)
Campese played in Australia's second World Cup Pool Match against Western Samoa on the right wing, in which he became the first person to play 60 Test matches for Australia. Australia defeated Western Samoa by scoring three penalty goals (kicked by Michael Lynagh) to one penalty goal kicked by Western Samoa.
1991 World Cup Pool Match - Australia 38 - Wales 3 (Cardiff - 12 October 1991)
1991 World Cup Quarter Final - Australia 19 - Ireland 18 (Dublin - 20 October 1991)
Campese scored the first try of the Test in the first half off the World Cup Quarter Final off a backline move "Originally code-named 'Stellenbosch' after the famous South African University and through the passage of time abbreviated to 'S'..." In Noddy Michael Lynagh explains that:
|“||I pass to the inside centre who, along with the outside centre, is moving diagonally across the field. David Campese, or whoever the winger might be, comes back inside the inside centre on... a switch pass. It's a move designed to take the opposition defence across, while we bring the open winger back inside on a different angle, hopefully creating a break over the advantage line."||”|
In Blindsided Lynagh recalls that, "...I'd get the ball from a lineout and pass to Timmy Horan, then he'd start to go across field with his centre partner, Jason Little, almost toward the corner flag. Then Campo could come from the open side and cut back late and counter-intuitively go inside, beating the defence, we hoped."
In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese recalls that:
|“||Against Ireland, we made a right mess of the start of the move which led to my first try. Try ball went to Lynagh, but when he passed it on to Horan, Tim was standing still. Even worse, I was right behind Tim, also standing still... But because I came in on a switch, I suddenly saw a dirty great gap opening in front of me, probably because the defenders didn't know who to take... and I ran into it to reach open ground. One sidestep took out the last defender [Simon Geoghegan] trying to come across and the try was scored.||”|
Campese scored his second try off a move entitled "cut-two-loop", a move Australia also called in the final moments of the quarter-final to score a Test-winning try. In The Winning Way Bob Dwyer recalls that, "Australia had scored a try with exactly the same move, in exactly the same position on the field, earlier in the same half, and on this occasion Campese scored the try as planned."
With five minutes left in the Test, a defensive lapse from Campese led to an Irish try which gave them an 18-15 lead. In On a Wing and a Prayer Campese writes that, "...Ireland suddenly set the whole of Dublin roaring as Gordon Hamilton, their flanker, stormed away for a try. I was partly my fault; I slipped and failed to kill the loose ball one of their players had kicked through. It was picked up and Hamilton came up like an express train to run 40 yards to score."
In Blindsided Lynagh recalls that, "We kept nudging ahead in the game, doing just enough, until a little mistake somewhere in defence when we were recovering a kick-through allowed the Irish flanker Gordon Hamilton to go over in the corner with four minutes left."
In the final minutes of the Test, Australia trailing 15-18, Australia kicked off long. Irish scrum-half Rob Saunders "sliced his kick badly", about "fifteen metres" "inside their twenety-two." Australia won the ensuing line-out. Lynagh writes that he called a play that brought Campese back towards the forwards:
|“||I decided to call the 'S' move. There were two reasons for doing that. One, we'd been successful with it throughout the game. Two, if Campo got caught, at least he'd be near the forwards instead of being wide out on his own. I wanted to make absolutely sure we secured the ball. Without it, the game was over... So we ran 'S' and Campo came back in as he was supposed to, but he didn't get very far before he got caught.||”|
Australia "got the put-in to the scrum on the left-hand side of the field" Lynagh called "cut-two-loop" one more time. In Noddy Andrew Slack writes that:
|“||From [Peter] Slattery to Lynagh, then the miss pass went to a straight-running Roebuck. Despite being hindered by opposite number Brendan Mullen before the ball, Little held the pass from Roebuck and delivered to Campese. The Irish defence was again breached, but the cover swarmed. Campese was felled and as the ball hit the turf it bounced backwards... Lynagh had chased the ball across field in support... to snatch a half-volley...||”|
In The Winning Way World Cup-winning Australian coach Bob Dwyer described the final moments of the Test between Australian and Ireland by recalling that:
|“||The try was a fairly standard move but it happened to be one of the moves we had practiced endlessly during the previous week. The ball went from Slattery the half-back to Lynagh the five-eighth and then on to Horan the inside-centre. Horan passed to Roebuck the fullback, cutting out the outside-centre Little, who looped around to take the ball from Roebuck and pass it on to Campese the winger. Campese was tackled but as he was going down he managed to toss up the ball to Lynagh, who went over for the try. The move almost came unstuck because Little was held back without the ball by an Irish defender, Brendan Mullin, and it was only Lynagh's brilliant intervention at the end which made the try possible. If Little had not been held back, I have no doubt that Campese would have scored himself."||”|
Lynagh scored the Test-winning try, and Australia won 19-18.
1991 World Cup Semi Final - Australia 16 - 6 New Zealand (Dublin - 27 October 1991)
Campese's performance in the 1991 World Cup Semi-Final has been described by former Australian coach Bob Dwyer as Campese's signature Test in his career. In an ABC documentary entitled The Rise and Rise of Australian Rugby Dwyer stated that, "I must say that throughout the 1991 World Cup, and this semi-final match in particular, Campo was a standout performer. We all know what a great player he was over such a long period of time, but I’m sure that his first-half performance that day has never been beaten."
Prior to the start of the Test, Campese did not stand in-front of the haka, instead opting to practice his kicking downfield.
Australia defeated New Zealand 16-6 in the 1991 World Cup semi-final, in which Campese was a decisive factor. Rugby writer Philip Derriman records that, "David Campese made two stunning interventions in the play which produced the only tries of the match and thus were responsible for Australia's 16-6 win."
Rugby writer Peter Jenkins records that, "Campese scored the first Wallaby try in the 12th minute [Note: It was the 6th minute], drifting off the blind wing into the five-eighth position to take the first pass from the ruck. He then angled across field to turn his archrival, John Kirwan, inside out before touching down. In the 35th minute he gathered a chip-kick from Lynagh, avoided one defender and drew two others before lobbing a basketball pass, without looking, over his right shoulder for centre Horan to score."
In The Winning Way Bob Dwyer writes that:
|“||...our first try came from a win at the back of the lineout... John Eales took the ball at number-six in the lineout and Nick Farr-Jones put Michael Lynagh over the advantage line, after which David Campese ran from the blind wing. Lynagh must have got seven metres over the advantage line, which is remarkable for a five-eighth, and this threw the All Blacks' defence into disarray.
Campese was brilliant. He scored the try running across the face of the defence. There were plenty of defenders in front of him, but because of the angle at which Campese was running they were all afraid to chase him, lest he gave a scissors pass to one of the Australians running outside him, or cut back inside himself. So each of the defenders played safe by making sure he had his own zone of defence covered, but Campese kept running out of their zones, one after another. Finally, only John Kirwan was left, and he allowed Campese to turn him around. I suppose this was a mistake by Kirwan, but it did not matter anyway, because Campese had Phil Kearns and Rob Egerton in support, each of whom would otherwise have scored. Nevertheless, the fact Campese ended up scoring outside Kirwan was remarkable.
Dwyer continues in The Winning Way to describe Campese's second famous intervention by writing that:
|“||The try Australia scored towards the end of the first half was relayed endlessly on television and, I predict, will be shown again and again in years to come. It was Lynagh, running towards the blind side, who set things in motion. Noticing that the New Zealand backs were lined up flat, he chipped the ball into the gap behind the winger. The New Zealand fullback, Kieran Crowley, was regarded by the Australians as being a little slow off the mark, and no doubt Lynagh had this in mind when he chose to kick in front of him. Campese was bearing down on the ball, and I think Crowley was undecided whether to go in for the ball or wait for the bounce and try to stop Campese. His slight hesitation gave Campese the fraction of a second he needed to scoop up the ball and flash past him. Campese's running then was superb. He drew two defenders and had a third one chasing him, all of whom thought he was a threat. Campese saw Tim Horan behind him out of the corner of his eye and flipped the ball back over his shoulder. Horan did well to catch it before going on to score.||”|
In For Love Not Money Simon Poidevin writes:
|“||Campo really left a huge imprint on that semi-final. In the sixth minute he scored the most exhilerating solo try of the tournament, and later created an even better team try, to show he was the best attacking player in the world and definitely the star performer in the World Cup. The memory of Campo angling across field and bomboozling Mark Carter, Sean Fitzpatrick and John Kirwan will remain forever. This was then topped in the 34th minute by his incredible one-handed pickup from a clever Lynagh kick, a wiggle to offset John Timu and then an inspired flick over his right shoulder to the brilliant Horan to give us a decisive edge.||”|
Following the Test All Blacks coach Alex Wylie remarked, "There's always Campo, and when you've got a player like that in your team you always know probably something is going to happen. He did it again – he just pulled that one out. An individual like that: one day he could probably blow it, but the other four days he could make it. It was just unfortunate he made it against us."
Following the tournament former Irish fly-half Tony Ward said of Campese that, "He is the Maradona, the Pelé of international Rugby all rolled into one. You cannot put a value on his importance to our game. He is a breath of fresh air and I think perhaps the greatest player of all time." Ward continued:
|“||The first try he scored defies logic - as first receiver from a centre-field ruck he cuts left, across-field, leaving player after player grasping at thin air. The last defender is, ironically, John Kirwan, his predecessor as the best winger in the world. Somehow he conjures up a try in the corner - a try that the All Blacks know should never have been scored. Better is to come however, as Campese regathers a chip kick, beats one man, then draws two others, before popping a 'no-look' pass over his shoulder for Tim Horan to score - it is the try of the tournament.||”|
Clem Thomas of The Observer wrote following the Test that, "it will always be remembered as Campese's match..." In 2013 former New Zealand rugby player Sean Fitzpatrick wrote that, "One man can never win a match on his own but he came as close to that as is possible with his display in the 1991 World Cup semi-final. We were beaten by half-time." British rugby writer Stephen Jones added, "If I had to put together the greatest rugby match I've ever seen I'd have the first half of Australia versus New Zealand in '91 in Dublin…"
1991 World Cup Final - Australia 12 - 6 England (London - 2 November 1991)
Following England's 1991 Rugby World Cup semi-final victory over Scotland in a tryless Test, Campese led a media campaign designating England as a boring rugby team. Campese said that if he played for England, he would insist on playing the flyhalf position because it would be the only way he could touch the ball. Campese is quoted as saying, 'I wouldn't play for England even if you paid me' and 'Playing that sort of boring stuff is a good way to destroy the image of the game. They're all so scared of losing over here they won't try anything.' He further added that 'England would never beat us in the World Cup because they are a bunch of Toffs, and we are convicts.'
Australia won the 1991 World Cup Final by beating England 12-6. Campese did not have much "ball possession" in the final, as evidenced by the fact that Australian flyhalf Michael Lynagh only touched the ball 17 times in the Test, as opposed to English flyhalf Rob Andrew, who touched the ball 41 times. However, four moments involving David Campese are often recorded in reports of the final.
Campese came close to scoring a try in the early stages of the first half of the final. Bob Dwyer recalls in The Winning Way that, "We were deprived of one try when a ball which Campese chipped ahead after making a break down the right wing bounced backwards and touched the referee, who consequently had to call a scrum."
Australia scored their only try of the 1991 World Cup Final in the 26th minute. Campese's "chasing" played an indirect part in the lead-up to Australia's first try. Simon Poidevin recalls in For Love Not Money that, "He [Tim Horan] took a bomb near his own line, spun out of the defence and sprinted 60m before kicking ahead..." Bob Dwyer records that, "Tim Horan had chipped ahead in a marvellous counter-attack from his own 22, and Campese had chased the ball and forced a lineout in the corner." Australia scored moments later off a rolling maul. Dwyer noted that, "The key to the whole exercise was Horan's grubber kick. If it had gone into touch, England would have had the put-in."
Campese was involved in the biggest controversy of the World Cup Final in the 69th minute. English flanker Peter Winterbottom attempted a pass to Campese's opposing winger Rory Underwood, who at that stage "may have had an overlap," when Campese knocked the ball forward. The referee ruled it a deliberate knock-on and awarded England a penalty." The English hooker, Brian Moore, thought the referee should have awarded a penalty try. Moore was reported after the Test to have said, "[Campese] sets himself up as the saviour of rugby. Yet when it comes down to it he's as cynical as anyone. I wouldn't criticise Campese except he called me mad as a hatter earlier this week." Moore writes in Beware of the Dog: Rugby's Hard Man Reveals All that, ‘I have no issue with what Campese did; I would have done the same, and he got away with it. The point I make about what he did is that, as he has been shown to be as cynical as the rest of us, I don’t now want to hear lectures from him about the spirit of the game.’
Australian flanker Simon Poidevin records that, "English critics claimed later that a penalty try should have been awarded, but there was no certainty that Underwood would have scored with our defence converging on him as fast as they were." Australian coach Bob Dwyer later added that, "He [the referee] could easily have ruled that the ball was simply passed into Campese's extended arm and that Campese made no deliberate attempt to hit it." Dwyer further added his opinion that the decision did not cost England the final writing that, "Australia would still have been ahead by 12-9, and I see no good reason to believe that England would have improved on that."
In On a Wing and a Prayer David Campese defended himself by stating that, "...I did not deliberately try to slap the ball down when Winterbottom attempted to pass to Underwood in the second half. I was just worried about stopping Winterbottom and I tried to get man and ball by wrapping my arms around him as well as the ball."
In the final stages of the final, Campese was involved in a backline movement that nearly led to an English try. Bob Dwyer records of, "...an unfortunate decision by the Australian backs to run the ball when the backline consisted only of Marty Roebuck, who had moved into five-eighth, Michael Lynagh at inside-centre and David Campese outside him." Dwyer further added that, "Lynagh, having looped Campese well behind the advantage line, lost possession in a tackle, and the England players set off for the try line."
Australian Rugby writer Philip Derriman records that, "...the English broke into the open with the ball well inside Australia's half and looked all but certain to score until the player in possession, Rob Andrew, was brought down in a magnificent diving tackle by John Eales, coming across in cover defence."
Following the 1991 Rugby World Cup former Irish flyhalf Tony Ward said that, "Although the finale is disappointing in terms of entertainment, there's no doubt in anyone's mind that Australia has been the best team and Campese is the outstanding player."
Australia v Scotland (1992)
Scotland toured Australia in 1992 for a two-Test series. Campese scored two tries in Australia's first Test against Scotland, won by Australia 27-12. Peter Jenkins in Wallaby Gold documents that:
- "Coach Bob Dwyer had urged his players to 'get more fire in your bellies' after they went to half-time behind 9-7. Two minutes after the break, winger Paul Carozza scored after lead-up work from fellow winger David Campese, debutant flanker David Wilson and Lynagh."
While Australia won the second Test against Scotland 37-13, Campese left the field due to injury, to be replaced by Peter Jorgensen.
Australia 26 – South Africa 3 (Cape Town – 22 August 1992)
On 15 August 1992 South Africa played a rugby Test against New Zealand (lost 24-27), which was their first Test at international level since the International Rugby Board (IRB) banned South Africa from playing international Test-level rugby due to apartheid boycotts. One week later on 22 August 1992 South Africa played the World Champion Wallabies.
In My Game Your Game Campese recalls that:
|“||There has always been a bit of the pot stirrer about me, and it caused an uproar in South Africa in 1992. We had gone there for a one-off match with the Springboks, and I was asked to attend a press conference soon after our arrival. I said the Wallabies should not have been in South Africa. Having had a tough season, and being world champions, the Springboks should have come to us. But the far greater crime was my speaking out against Naas Botha, the South African five-eighth. I said he had been in Italy quite a few years and I had yet to see him make a tackle. It was true, but you should have seen the looks on the faces of the South African journalists. No-one was supposed to speak about Naas like that. The Australian press guys sat in the front row and laughed; they know what I’m like because they’ve dealt with me often enough.||”|
In Campo: Still Entertaining Campese writes that
|“||But in Cape Town, where the Australian forwards were superb on a wet and difficult track, we blew them away with a record scoreline of 26-3. That game had happy memories for personal reasons. I had scored my 50th Test try, after brilliant work from Horan. He had set off on a run from deep inside our half, kicked ahead and tackled the big South African centre Danie Gerber when he retrieved the ball from his own quarter. Horan then jumped to his feet, stripped the Springbok legend of possession and fired me a pass. I had no-one to beat. Brining up a half-century had never been so easy.||”|
In Full Time: A Coach's Memoir Bob Dwyer remembers that:
|“||After that game, David Campese approached me to say that he was thinking about retirement. He felt he had done it all: won the Grand Slam of ’84, the Bledisloe of ’86, World Cup ’91 and now had beaten South Africa. He believed there was no rugby field left to plough.
‘Campo, you’re mad,’ I said. ‘In my opinion there is only one important game.’
‘The next one.’
‘I knew you’d say something stupid like that,’ he said.
Australia v Argentina (1995)
Prior to the 1995 Rugby World Cup Australia played a two-Test series against Argentina which was won 2-0. Australia won the first Test in Brisbane on 30 April 1995. Rugby writer Peter Jenkins documented that, "The Pumas' tackling was also committed, if sometimes questionable, but they struggled to contain the pace and slickness of a Wallaby backline led by Lynagh, whose deputies included centre Jason Little and winger David Campese." Australia won the second Test 30 to 13 in Sydney on 6 May 1995. Campese scored two tries that would be the last tries Campese would score at international level, until a Test against Canada 13 months later.
1995 Rugby World Cup
Campese only played in three Tests at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. England defeated Australia in the quarter-finals. Campese would later state in Campo: Still Entertaining that, "I know David Campese had an ordinary tournament."
Australia 18 - South Africa 27 (Cape Town - 25 May 1995)
|“||I was not anywhere near my best and missed a crucial tackle on my opposite winger Pieter Hendriks, allowing him to score. We had been ahead 13-9 at the time, with Lynagh scoring the opening try of the tournament in the 32rd minute of the match. Five minutes later the Springboks had snatched the lead from us when Hendriks beat me on the outside, raised his fist in triumph, and scored in the left corner. We never led again.||”|
In Campo: Still Entertaining Campese writes that, "In the World Cup match against South Africa, I kicked the ball three or four times when I could have run. Maybe I was worried my speed was going, and that was affecting my confidence, especially to counterattack."
Australia 27 - Canada 11 (Port Elizabeth - 21 May 1995)
Australia 22 - England 25 (Cape Town - 11 June 1995)
English revenge for the final defeat came in the next World Cup when they beat the Wallabies in a nail-biting quarter-final. After the match, Campo somehow found himself on the same bus as all the English and endured some ribbing.
1995 Bledisloe Cup
Following the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Campese was dropped from the Australian team for their first Bledisloe Cup Test match against New Zealand in Auckland. Following an injury to Australian fullback Matthew Burke in the first Bledisloe Cup Test of 1995 in Auckland, the Australian selectors picked Rod Kafer to take Burke's place in the Australian team. Kafer then suffered a broken leg during a training session. Campese was then recalled to a training session with the Wallabies, with the information that if Matthew Burke proved his fitness, he would not play in the second Bledisloe Cup Test. Burke recovered from his injury to play in the second Bledisloe Cup Test. However, another injury to Australian centre Daniel Herbert led to Campese's selection on the bench in the second Bledisloe Cup Test of 1995. In Campo: Still Entertaining Campese writes that "for some reason, I was meant to play that weekend against the All Blacks."
2nd Bledisloe Cup Test: Australia 23 – New Zealand 34 (Sydney – 29 July 1995)
The second Bledisloe Cup Test of 1995 marked the first and only time in Campese's rugby career where he started a Test on the bench. Australian winger Damien Smith suffered an injury in the first half of the second Bledisloe Cup Test of 1995, allowing Campese to play his 92nd Test for Australia, coming off the bench as a substitute in the second half.
|“||Jonah was just devastating, the real killer among the game's ball-runners at the time. The only chance of stopping a man of his power is to take him low - and it was in that Test that David Campese... chopped Lomu down with a bootlace tackle. It was a dead-set one in a million event. Other times, Lomu ran around or over his rival winger. But on this occasion Campo felled him first time, later making the point coolly that it wasn't so difficult to stop the big fella.||”|
In Campo: Still Entertaining Campese reflects that, "As chance would have it, Jonah got the ball in the opening stages of the second half and ran straight at me… I think I shut my eyes, but I tackled him. Later in the half he pushed me aside to score a try, but I could at least claim to have cut him down once."
Following the Test Campese and Lomu met in the changing rooms and exchanged their jerseys. Lomu gave Campese his number 11 jersey while Campese gave Lomu his number 16 jersey. Campese's 92nd Test marked the last Test Campese would play in the amateur era.
In 1996 Bob Dwyer was replaced as coach of the Australian rugby union team by Greg Smith. In Campo: Still Entertaining Campese writes that, "It gave me some early hope of forcing my way back. I don’t know for sure that Bob had written me off as a Test player. But judging by those closing months of the 1995 season, it would not have been too promising for me, I suspect, had he held on to the Wallaby post."
Regarding his decision to continue playing Test level rugby Campese writes that, "In the end, my decision to play on was taken with one overriding goal in mind. I wanted to end my Test career on a high note. Not with an appearance off the bench in a Bledisloe Cup loss to the All Blacks." He further adds that, "the prospect of playing 100 Tests had enormous appeal too… But, to be perfectly honest, the initial aim was just to get back in the starting side." Campese was selected for the Australian team for the first eight Tests of their 1996 season, before being dropped following his 100th Test against Italy. He would play one more Test for Australia against Wales in the Wallabies final Test of the year.
1996 Australian Tour to Europe
The 1996 Australia rugby union tour in Europe was Campese's final rugby tour before his retirement from international Test rugby. While the tour contained Tests against Italy, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Campese only played against Italy and Wales. The Australian team was heavily criticised for their performances. However, the tour remains the only time Australia had won every match on a tour to Europe that included provincial matches.
Australia 40 – Italy 18 (23 October 1996)
Australia's first Test of the 1996 Tour to Europe against Italy marked David Campese's 100th international Test. He became the second person, after French centre Philippe Sella, to achieve the milestone. The Test took place two days after Campese's 34th birthday in Padova, where Campese had played rugby in Italy for three years from 1984 to 1986. The Test took place close to his father's birthplace, Vicenza. In Campo: Still Entertaining Campese recalls that, "Unfortunately, they were not treated to vintage performances, by myself or the rest of the Wallabies. The Italians got stuck into us and, in some respects, we were lucky to get away with a 40-18 scoreline."
Australia's Tim Horan was moved to the wing for the Test against Italy and scored a try. Campese then missed national selection for the next Test against Scotland, with coach Greg Smith opting to continue to play Tim Horan on the wing and play Joe Roff in Campese's place. This marked only the third time in Campese's 101-Test career that he was dropped from the Australian rugby team.
In a midweek match against Munster Campese had what he later described as "one of my better performances for quite some time, scoring two tries, setting up another and perhaps defending like I’d never defended before." However, Campese also did not achieve national selection for the Test against Ireland. Australian coach Greg Smith opted to return Tim Horan to the inside centre position and play Jason Little on the wing in Campese's place.
Australia 28 – Wales 19 (Cardiff – 1 December 1996)
Campese was recalled to the Australian side for their final Test of the 1996 European tour, his 101st Test and his final Test appearance playing for the Wallabies. Australian coach Greg Smith returned Jason Little to the outside centre position and situated Campese on the right wing while Joe Roff occupied the left wing. Australia led Wales 18-6 at halftime. In the second half Welsh outside centre Gareth Thomas scored a try after intercepting a pass from George Gregan. Following this Welsh flyhalf Jonathan Davies kicked two penalties to give Wales a 19-18 lead. Australia's Matt Burke landed a penalty to give Australia a 21-19 lead, before Australia scored a penalty try in the final moments of the Test to win 28-19.
Australia 39 – Barbarians 12 (Twickenham – 7 December 1996)
Campese played his last match for Australia against the Barbarians at Twickenham. Prior to the match Campese was offered the special privilege of playing for the Barbarians in his final match. However, Australian team management rejected the idea. Campese scored a try in his last game after taking a pass from Australian hooker Michael Foley and slipping under an attempted tackle from South African flyhalf Joel Stransky. Following the game, Campese completed a lap of honour and was afforded a standing ovation from crowd, to bring an end to his international career.
Throughout his career Campese was known for his forthright views and the running commentary of chairman Campese was never for the faint of heart. The English were a particular target for his vitriol as he lambasted them for their boring and unadventurous play, however he was not afraid to also speak out against Australians, for instance when some elected to play for their states rather than represent Australia in the Hong Kong Sevens.
In retirement, Campese remains a fierce critic of England, maintaining his criticism even after England were crowned world champions in 2003. However, he was a good enough sport to accept the merciless heckling from the English media in the aftermath of England's victory with good grace, and walked humiliatingly the length of Oxford Street wearing a sandwich board on which was the English flag overlaid with the words "I admit, the best team won!" to make good on a somewhat rash promise he'd made before the tournament.
In 2013, he published tweets urging that naturalised Australian cricketer Fawad Ahmed "go home" because he chose not to wear clothing with the logo of Victoria Bitter on account that it clashes with his Islamic faith.
In 1991 Campese released his first autobiography On a Wing and a Prayer with Peter Bills. The opening paragraph reads as follows:
|“||In that short, abbreviated hour between the fading of the winter's afternoon sun and the onset of that bitter night cold which persuades me that I could never live in the British Isles, I turned over in bed at the Surrey hotel where I was staying to take a phone call which was to offer me the chance to change my life forever.||”|
In 2003 Campese released his second autobiography Campo: Still Entertaining.
The tribute book David Campese highlights the following events as being among Campese's career milestones.
Born 21 October 1962, Queanbeyan, NSW to Gianantonio and Joan Campese. Brother Mario (born 1959), sisters Lisa (1964) and Corrina (1965).
Campese family moves back to Montecchio Precalcino in northern Italy in 1966 for eighteen months and returns to Australia and settles again in Queanbeyan the following year.
Attends local public school and high school. Plays rugby league from the ages of eight to sixteen for the Queanbeyan Blues.
Wins the ACT-Monaro Schoolboys golf title in 1978.
First game of rugby union for the Queanbeyan Whites club in the ACT rugby competition in 1979 in fourth grade. Promoted to first grade in 1980.
Selected for the Australian Under 21 side against New Zealand, Sydney Cricket Ground, 1982, at the age of nineteen.
Selected on the 1982 Wallaby tour of New Zealand after ten established Australian players withdrew. Makes his Test debut for Australia at Lancaster Park in Christchurch on 14 August and scores one try.
Scores four tries in Australia's first official Test match v USA in July, 1983 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, equalling Greg Cornelsen's record for the most tries in a Test by an Australian.
Member of the 1984 Wallaby Tour to Great Britain that won rugby's 'grand slam,' the first Australian side to defeat all four home sides, England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland, on a tour.
Plays for Italian club Petrarca in the northern city of Padua from 1984-88 during the northern winter. Transfers to the Amatori club in Milan in 1988, owned by Italian media magnate and future Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and plays with them until 1993.
Member of the 1986 side that beat the All Blacks 2-1 in New Zealand, only the fourth international and the second Australian team to win a Test series in New Zealand.
1987 - joins Sydney club Randwick from the Queanbeyan Whites.
Receives a standing ovation from the crowd and applause from his teammates after scoring a zig-zagging try for Australia against the Barbarians at Cardiff Arms Park in 1988. Campese regards this as his best try in international rugby.
July 1989 - a misguided pass behind the line directed at Greg Martin allows Ieuan Evans to score and the British Lions to win the series, the low point of his career on the field.
Plays his fiftieth Test match for Australia v France in Sydney, June, 1990.
July 1990 - misses selection from the Australian team to play France following his late return from Italy.
October/November 1991 - acclaimed the Player of the 1991 World Cup, scoring six tries in as many matches for the victorious Wallabies. The second pool match against Western Samoa is Campese's sixtieth Test, breaking the record for the most number of Test appearances for Australia. The final against England at Twickenham is Campese's 100th international match for Australia.
August 1992 - scores his fiftieth Test try in Cape Town, in the first Test match between Australia and South Africa since 1971.
September 1992 - opens Campo's Sports and Leisure store at St Ives shopping centre in Sydney with business partner Julie McGraw.
Member of Australia's third World Cup squad in South Africa. Defending champions Australia bow out in the quarter-finals against England.
Omitted from the side to play the first Test v New Zealand in Auckland in the 1995 Bledisloe Cup series. He is a late selection onto the bench in the second Test in Sydney, then runs on as a placement to notch up his ninety-second Test cap.
June 1996 - secnd Test v Wales in Sydney is Campese's ninety-fourth - second on the all-time list of Test appearances for all nations.
Campese retied in 1996 second on the all-time list of Test appearances for all nations with 101 Tests following a Test against Wales in Cardiff.
David Campese has frequently been cited by several rugby pundits as one of the greatest rugby union players of all time.
In 2002, rugby commentator Bill McLaren named David Campese on the wing in his greatest ever world XV, citing him as his favourite player. He further nominated Campese as the greatest rugby player he ever saw. "Every time David Campese got the ball people sat up and took notice, he took a risk and I love that," said McLaren. "He was so adventurous. Sometimes it didn't work, but he was always willing to try. Andy Irvine was similar, but Campese was the one. He carried the commentary along with the play."
Following Australia's victory over New Zealand in the 1991 World Cup semi-final, former Irish flyhalf Tony Ward said of Campese that, "He is the Maradona, the Pelé of international rugby all rolled into one." He further added that, "You can't put a value on his importance to our game. He's a breath of fresh air and I think perhaps the greatest player of all time."
In his first autobiography The Winning Way former Australian coach Bob Dwyer hailed Campese as being one of the five most accomplished Australian rugby players he has ever seen. Dwyer wrote that, "I would rate Campese first for pure individual brilliance." Dwyer further rated Campese as "the best broken-field runner I have seen." In his second autobiography Full Time: A Coach's Memoir Dwyer wrote that, "For this biased judge, Campo will always be the prince of wingers."
In 1989 David Campese was selected in the Rothmans Rugby Union Yearbook "Team of the Decade" at left-wing. The team was chosen by a panel consisting of former rugby players Gareth Edwards, Jean-Pierre Rives, Ian Robertson, and David Kirk. The panel agreed that one selection was straightforward, that of David Campese on the left wing.
In 2007 former English rugby captain Will Carling rated David Campese as the third best rugby player of all time. He stated that, "He was well ahead of his time. His anticipation and vision was way ahead of what everyone else was attempting, and 99 per cent of it came off. He took running lines no one else could fathom and made passes no one could see were on. He was an extraordinary talent - the best winger."
|“||As far as his rugby playing was concerned, I'd always have Campo in my team. Whenever I was calling moves of any kind, the first thought that came into my head was always, 'How do I get Campo involved in this move?' Funnily enough, a lot of the time his role was as a decoy. We'd use him, our primary weapon, as a runner, to draw defensive cover away from other players. Most of the time he'd end up on the end of the move anyway, because he was a brilliant, supremely gifted player. Also, back in the amateur days, Campo probably prepared better than anybody. He was in the gym a lot more than anyone else and that was on his own time. In some respects he was ahead of his time.||”|
In 2013 Australian sports magazine Inside Rugby named its four Australian Invincibles - a rugby union equivalent of rugby league's Immortals. David Campese was named alongside Col Windon, Ken Catchpole, and Mark Ella as the first Invincibles of Australian rugby.
Peter Meares and Maxwell Howell wrote of Campese's fame that:
- "...his fame surpassed the normal boundaries of sport - Australian rower Nick Green, a Victorian, summed up the Oarsome Foursome's victory in the Barcelona Olympics, like this :'So easy, Campese.'"
Campese was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1997. In 1999 Australia Post celebrated the centenary of Australian federation emitting 250 collectible stamps depicting the champ and autographed by the same Campese. He Received an Australian Sports Medal in 2000, a Centenary Medal in 2001, and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2002. In 2007 Campese was honoured in the third set of inductees into the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2013.
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- Terry Cooper compiled by Peter A. Murray, Victorious Wallabies (East Sussex: Waterloo Press, 1985), p 103."
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- Campese 2003, p. 65-66.
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- http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tv_and_radio/rugby_special/1842121.stm. Missing or empty
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- "David Campese AM". Sport Australia Hall of Fame. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
- Courier Mail
- universal postal union
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- Slack, Andrew (1995). Noddy: The Authorised Biography of Michael Lynagh. William Heinemann Australia a part of Reed Books Australia. ISBN 0 85561 571 0.
- Zavos, Spiro; Bray, Gordon (2003). Two Mighty Tribes: The Story of the All Blacks vs. the Wallabies. Penguin Books Australia. ISBN 0 14 301870 1.
- Bill McLaren's World XV Rugby Special, BBC Sport, 5 March 2002
- Campese completes walk of shame BBC Sport, 15 December 2003
- Rugby's my Life — Video Documentary of David Campese's rugby career