Italy national rugby league team

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Badge of Italia team
Team information
Nickname Azzurri
Governing body Federazione Italiana Rugby League
Region Europe
Head coach Cameron Ciraldo
Kelly Rolleston (it) (domestic)
Captain Mark Minichiello
Most caps Gioele Celerino, Matthew Sands (16)
Top try-scorer Richard Lepori (12)
Top point-scorer Josh Mantellato (88)
Home stadium Stadio Plebiscito
RLIF ranking 14th
First colours
Team results
First game
Wigancolours.svg Wigan 49–28 Italy 
(Central Park, Wigan; 26 August 1950)
First international
 Italy 15–37 Australia 
(Stadio Euganeo, Padua; 23 January 1960)
Biggest win
 Italy 94–4 Spain 
(Campo Sportivo Manta, Saluzzo; 10 June 2017)
Biggest defeat
 Italy 0–104 Scotland 
(Stadio Plebiscito, Padua; 17 October 2009)
World Cup
Appearances 1 (first time in 2013)
Best result Group stage, 2013

The Italy national rugby league team represents Italy in rugby league football. With origins dating back to the 1950s and 60s, the team has competed regularly in international competitions since 2008, when their current governing body, the Federazione Italiana Rugby League, was formed. They are currently ranked 14th in the RLIF World Rankings.


Official Rankings as of May 2017[1]
Rank Change Team Points
1 Same position  Australia
2  New Zealand
3  England
4  Scotland
5  Samoa
6  France
7 Rise  Ireland
8 Fall  Fiji
9 Same position  Wales
10  United States
11 Rise  Tonga
12 Fall  Serbia
13  Canada
14  Italy
15 Same position  Papua New Guinea
16  Russia
17  Jamaica
18  Belgium
19 Rise  Malta
20 Fall  Spain
21 Same position  Lebanon
22  Ukraine
23  Germany
24 Rise  Cook Islands
25 Fall  Czech Republic
26 Same position  Norway
27  Denmark
28  Greece
29  Sweden
30  Netherlands
31 Rise  Niue
32 Fall  South Africa
33 Rise  Hungary
34 Fall  Philippines
35 New entry  Thailand
36 Fall  Chile
37  Vanuatu
38 Rise  El Salvador
39 Fall  Latvia
40 Fall  Solomon Islands
41 New entry  Uruguay
42 Fall  Morocco

In 1950, a team from Turin tours the North of England. Italy later runs a domestic competition. A year later the first official match of the Italian national team took place in Cahors, France. Italy lost 29–17 although the Azzurri ended the first half leading 10–7.

Sixteen official matches were played against English teams in the season 1952–53, as well as a triangular tournament between Italy, France and England.

In 1958, in Treviso under the Italian Federation of Amateur Rugby 13 (FIAR 13) was formed and was recognised by the Rugby Football League. With this recognition and funding from England, the sport of rugby league became popular in Italy. In their first year, the FIAR had 24 clubs and 620 players.

In 1960, Italy played Australia in two international matches held in Italy, the results were 37–15 and 67–22 losses. In the late 1960s, threats made by the rugby union governing body Italian Rugby Federation to ban players who played rugby league from their sport had the effect of killing off the sport in Italy by the 1970s. As a consequence the Italian national team ceased to exist.

In the mid-1990s the team were revived by two Italian-Australians, Domenic Pezzano and John Benigni, known as 'The Italian Rugby League A XIII' (IRL A XIII) was formed in 1993. Pezzano coached Italy in the Coca-Cola Rugby League World Sevens in Australia with the team being predominately players from Italy and one Italo-Australian player captained the team – Orazio D'arro in this tournament, Pezzano also coached the Italian team that participated in the first ever Super League World Nines tournament which was hosted by Fiji, that team was made up off Italian players, Italian Origin players and included 1st Graders such as Dean Schifilliti, Mark Corvo, Luke Davico and Italian dual International Orazio Arancio.

After that event, the Italia Rugby League began competing in various international tournaments, such as the Super League rugby league nines tournament in Fiji, World Sevens, St.Marys Sevens, Wollogong Sevens and the Mediterranean Cup in 1999. They attempted to qualify for the 2000 Rugby League World Cup and ended up in the Rugby League Emerging Nations Tournament in which they were runners-up to British Amateur Rugby League Association.

In 2002, the Azzurri were back playing internationals in Italy with a triangular tournament featuring Scotland and Russia. Italy lost to Tartarstan of Russia but tied their second game with Scotland 16 all. In 2003 Italy played Scotland again and contested the Ionio Cup against Greece, which they won.

Former Italy logo

In 2006, Italy played three matches, two against South Africa and one against British Amateur Rugby League Association.[2]

The Federazione of Italia Rugby League was officially moved to the "official observer" status by the Rugby League European Federation from an unranked position on 15 April 2008.[3]

Italy won the RLEF European Shield in 2008 and 2009, and as such were drafted into the 2009 European Cup following Russia's withdrawal from the tournament. During this tournament, Italy were handed their record defeat by Scotland, but they did manage to record one victory, over Serbia at The Old Parish in Maesteg, Wales.[4][5]

In Autumn 2010 Italy embarked on a short tour of Wales, culminating in a match in Wrexham on 6 October in which they faced Wales for the first time in a full Rugby League international. The Italian side obtained a remarkable 13–6 victory, the first against a national team of the British Isles.[6]

In 2013 they won a warm up match against 3rd ranked England 15–14 making it their most stunning victory.[7]

2013 World Cup qualifying[edit]

In 2011, Italy contested the qualifying tournament for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, competing against Russia, Serbia and Lebanon. Coached by Carlo Napolitano and captained by Anthony Minichiello, Italy's draw with Lebanon was enough for them to gain the 14th and final place in the 2013 World Cup.[8]

2013 World Cup[edit]

The Italian team playing in their second kit against Scotland in the 2013 World Cup

Italy were drawn in Pool C alongside Scotland, Tonga and they also played an inter-group match against co-hosts Wales. Their tournament began with an upset victory over the co-hosts at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. In their second match, the 'Azzuri' took on Scotland who were coming off an upset win of their own against Tonga. The match turned out to be a thriller and it was tight with a high scoring draw being the end result. Italy then had to just win their last pool match against Tonga after Scotland won their match and finished their pool-stage campaign with the same points differential the Italians were currently on. Tonga had nothing but pride to play for after their hopes of qualification had vanished but they shocked Napolitano's men by keeping them scoreless and therefore eliminating Italy from having any chance to play in the 2013 World Cup knockout round.

2017 World Cup qualifying[edit]

Italy participated in the qualification for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. The first stage of qualifying involved having to finish in the top 3 in their 2014–15 European Shield competition. Italy only managed to secure qualification for the 'final qualification tournament' after winning their second to last game against bottom placed Ukraine. Italy finished the Shield in third place with 3 wins and 3 defeats in six matches.

The final qualification tournament will consist of 6 teams - the top three teams from the European B tournament, the winners of the European C tournament and seeded nations Wales and Ireland. The tournament will feature two groups of three teams playing in a single round-robin format. The winners of each group will qualify for the World Cup, while the runners-up will face each other in a play-off match on 5 November 2016 to determine the final spot. A seeded draw will take place to determine the groups on 5 November 2015. Italy are placed in Group A alongside European B tournament champions Serbia, and Wales.


Current squad[edit]

The Italy national team squad for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.[9]

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Pts Club
Fullback Cerruto, MasonMason Cerruto (1996-01-22) 22 January 1996 (age 21) 3 24 Panthers colours.svg Penrith Panthers
Fullback Lepori, RichardRichard Lepori (1991-10-22) 22 October 1991 (age 25) 8 48 Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham Roughyeds
Fullback Tedesco, JamesJames Tedesco (1993-01-08) 8 January 1993 (age 24) 3 4 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers
Wing Castellaro, JustinJustin Castellaro (1990-09-07) 7 September 1990 (age 27) 3 12 Northern Pride colours.png Northern Pride
Wing Centrone, ChrisChris Centrone (1991-07-24) 24 July 1991 (age 26) 6 12 Australian colours.svg Wyong Roos
Wing Mantellato, JoshJosh Mantellato (1987-04-21) 21 April 1987 (age 30) 8 88 Australian colours.svg Wyong Roos
Centre Bergamasco, MircoMirco Bergamasco (1983-02-23) 23 February 1983 (age 34) 5 48 Catalanscolours.svg Leoni Veneti
Centre Calegari, ChristopheChristophe Calegari (1984-06-03) 3 June 1984 (age 33) 9 12 Brisbane colours.svg Palau XIII Broncos
Centre Milone, NathanNathan Milone (1994-03-18) 18 March 1994 (age 23) 0 0 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers
Centre Wilkie, ColinColin Wilkie (1986-09-13) 13 September 1986 (age 31) 3 12 Northern Pride colours.png Northern Pride
Five-eighth Campese, TerryTerry Campese (1984-08-04) 4 August 1984 (age 33) 3 34 Barrowcolours.svg Queanbeyan Blues
Five-eighth Johns, JackJack Johns (1997-10-15) 15 October 1997 (age 20) 0 0 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights
Halfback Ghietti, RyanRyan Ghietti (1989-07-22) 22 July 1989 (age 28) 9 9 Northern Pride colours.png Northern Pride
Prop Alvaro, DanielDaniel Alvaro (1993-05-28) 28 May 1993 (age 24) 0 0 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels
Prop Hiscox, GavinGavin Hiscox (1988-08-24) 24 August 1988 (age 29) 3 0 Central Comets colours.svg Central Queensland Capras
Prop Vaughan, PaulPaul Vaughan (1991-04-23) 23 April 1991 (age 26) 3 0 St. George colours.svg St George Illawarra Dragons
Prop Wakeman, ShannonShannon Wakeman (1990-02-15) 15 February 1990 (age 27) 3 8 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
Hooker Tramontana, JosephJoseph Tramontana (1997-02-15) 15 February 1997 (age 20) 1 0 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Second-row Celerino, GioeleGioele Celerino (1993-10-04) 4 October 1993 (age 24) 16 38 Balmain colours.svg Tully Tigers
Second-row Minichiello, MarkMark Minichiello (captain) (1982-01-30) 30 January 1982 (age 35) 3 4 Hullcolours.svg Hull F.C.
Second-row Santi, BrendenBrenden Santi (1993-08-05) 5 August 1993 (age 24) 6 8 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters
Second-row Walker, JaydenJayden Walker (1996-08-13) 13 August 1996 (age 21) 4 8 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Lock Brown, NathanNathan Brown (1993-03-01) 1 March 1993 (age 24) 0 0 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels
Lock Riethmuller, JoelJoel Riethmuller (1985-05-09) 9 May 1985 (age 32) 9 8 Northern Pride colours.png Northern Pride

Notable representatives[edit]

The following is a list of Italian representative Test players who have played 50 more or matches in a professional rugby league competition i.e. the National Rugby League and/or the Super League:

Results and fixtures[edit]

Recent results[edit]

8 October 2017
Malta  24 – 24  Italy
10 June 2017
Italy  94 – 4  Spain
Manta Sports Complex, Saluzzo
4 November 2016
Italy  76 – 0  Russia
29 October 2016
Italy  14 – 20  Wales
22 October 2016
Serbia  14 – 62  Italy


The Italian team has competed in the following matches and tournaments since the reintroduction of rugby league to the country in the 1990s:

Since 2008, Italy has competed in the following Test match tournaments:


Italy's kit suppliers are Fi-ta.

2013 World Cup Jersey
Home Kit
2013 World Cup Jersey
Away Kit

See also[edit]


External links[edit]