Gianluca Faliva in 2009
|Date of birth||26 December 1973|
|Place of birth||Camposampiero, Province of Padua, Italy|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Weight||246 lb (112 kg)|
|Rugby union career|
Gianluca Faliva was born in Camposampiero, Padua, Italy, and did not start playing rugby until he was 20, when he joined CUS Padova Rugby under pressure from some of his colleagues in the Italian Police who also played for the club. Until then, he played football as a centre back in a low-level local amateur side.
Coached by former international Marzio Innocenti, he soon developed into a physical but very dynamic prop, becoming one of the linchpins of the side.
In 1996, still working as a policeman, Faliva made his Serie A1 (now National Championship of Excellence) debut with the still amateur CUS Padova.
Pro and international career
In 1997 Faliva signed a professional contract with Benetton Treviso, one of the highest-ranked clubs in Italy.
With Treviso, Faliva proved to be a class player and earned his first international call-up from coach Georges Coste against then-World Champions South Africa in Durban in June 1999. Italy suffered its worst defeat ever, but Faliva was handed his first cap after coming in as a sub.
The next-in-charge head coaches Massimo Mascioletti and Brad Johnstone dismissed Faliva, who had to wait for three years before his second cap (and his first start); it happened against New Zealand in 2002 under coach John Kirwan. Kirwan also awarded Faliva his third and fourth caps, against Argentina and Australia.
In the meanwhile, Faliva's club career with Treviso continued flourishing on a national and European level. He is second for number of national titles won (7) after Massimiliano Perziano (8) and alongside other players such as Denis and Manuel Dallan, Carlo Checchinato and Romano Bettarello.
Excluded from the Italian squad due to the presence of Andrea Lo Cicero, Martin Castrogiovanni, Salvatore Perugini, Carlos Nieto and Federico Pucciariello amongst others, Faliva remained one of the best props in the national league. This earned him a much-valued call-up to the most prestigious invitational side in international rugby, the Barbarians. He played his only game for them in March 2005, in a defeat against Leicester Tigers. Curiously, all of Faliva's international games (including this one) ended with a defeat for his side.
In 2003 Faliva and fellow international and Treviso player Fabio Ongaro were accused of using Epoetin beta (NeoRecormon) for performance enhancement purposes. He was also accused of selling such substance, at which point the trial went out of the sporting circles to reach the penal courts. The Public Prosecutor for this case recommended an 18-months jail spell and a 15,000 Euro fine for the player, but in 2009 the trial was concluded with a sentence of absolution for Faliva and Ongaro, as no proof of either of them using or detaining the doping substance could be presented. even though some witnesses insisted on his involvement.
- "S.Africa v Italy 19/07/99". Scrum.com. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- "NZ v Italy 08/06/02". Scrum.com. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- "Italy v Argentina 16/11/02". Scrum.com. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- "Italy v Australia 23/11/02". Scrum.com. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- Stephens, Paul (2005-03-20). "Leicester v Barbarians 19/03/05". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- "Faliva joins Rovigo (in Italian)". Rugby Rovigo. 2007-08-23. Archived from the original on 2009-10-10. Retrieved 2009-12-15.
- Alberto Gambato (2009-05-35). "Rovigo - 2008/09 season recap (in Italian)". Rovigo Oggi. Retrieved 2009-12-15. Check date values in:
- Eugenio Capodacqua (2003-04-17). "Doping substance found (in Italian)". Repubblica. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- Giuseppe Guastella & Giuseppe Toti (2003-04-17). "Doping blitz made by the Police (in Italian)". Corriere della Sera. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- "Trial opened (in Italian)". Associazione Italiana Rugbysti. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- "Trial closed (in Italian)". Associazione Italiana Rugbysti. 2009-07-01. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
- "A witness accuses Faliva (in Italian); .pdf file" (PDF). La Tribuna di Treviso. 2009-05-16. Retrieved 2009-12-15.