David Ian Campese, famously known as Campo, was capped by the Wallabies 101 times, and held the world record for the most tries in test matches until May 2006. Here are some facts about the former Australian rugby player:
He has appeared 101 times in international matches for Wallabies and held the world record of 64 tries in test matches, before being overtaken by Daisuke Ohata and Bryan Habana.
Although he played rugby through school and for the Queanbeyan Blues, at the age of 16 he quit and started to play golf and went on to win the ACT-Monaro Schoolboys golf title in 1978.
In 1979, he made his rugby union debut for Queanbeyan Whites in fourth division and graduated to first division, beforemaking his grade to the Australian under-21 selection at the age of 19 yearsfor the tour of New Zealand.
His performance against All Blacks and Fiji for the Australian under-21 side coupled with the absence of winger Brendan Moon earned his selection to national team for the tour of New Zealand in 1982.
He made his debut on August 14, 1982, in the first test at Christchurch against All-Blacks and scored a try for a losing cause. Wallabies were beaten 16 to 23.
His debut international test match is remembered for one another reason, when Campese reacted ‘Stu who? responding to media about Stu Wilson, one of the best winger in the world. However being a rookie he beat Stu Wilson few times in the series by employing goose-step and earned his praise.
On July 09, 1983, in a test match against USA in Sydney, he scored four tries in a 49-3 victory, to equal former Australian backrower Greg Cornelson’s record of most tries in a test match which was broken by Latham in 2003.
He was born David Ian Campese, on October 21, 1962, in Queanbeyan, New South Wale, Australia, to Gianantonio and Joan Campese. He has a brother, Mario and two sisters Lisa, Corrina.
In the second test of Argentina’s tour of Australia, at Sydney, on August 07, 1983, he scored one of the most remarkable attempts by sidestepping one of the defender with his famous goose-step and dived into touchdown. The referee, the Welshman Clive Norling, congratulated him for the best try he had ever seen.
In span of two weeks he went from high to low of despise with his performance against New Zealand in the lone Bledisole Cup on August 20th at Sydney. Selected ahead of Glen Ella, as full-back, he missed four shots at goal from four attempts and was quoted ‘I felt like kicking myself, but I would have missed.’
He was part of the first Australian team to win rugby’s ‘grand slam’ of defeating all four home sides, England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland on a tour. Campese scored six tries on the tour more than any Australian player.
On June 01, 1986, by scoring two tries against Italy, he broke the most tries scored by an Australian player and became the third Australian to score 100 career Test match points.
His two tries from fullback was sensationally executed in a whitewash of the Pumas in two test home series in 1986. It was his sixth tries in four tests at amazing rate with a string of dazzling performance compelling Coach Alan Jonesto to declare Campese to be ‘the Bradman of rugby.’
Campese was the member of 1986 Australian Wallabies that defeated All-Blacks in their backyard. It was the second Australian team and one of five rugby union side to record a test series win in New Zealand.
Following the loss of second Bledisloe test match on August 23, 1986, with Campese dropping few high-kicks in very wet condition, Coach Jones was forced to comment ‘don’t worry, fellows, you played without fullback today.’This comment made him get drunk and was so distraught that he was ready to retire from rugby.
He played the first ever world cup in 1987 with pain killer due to ankle injury which was not diagnosed in the scan and ex-rays. Few months later itwas revealed in a special scan, to be an ankle bone split in half.
In the semi-finals of the world cup against France, he scored his world record 25th tries, surpassing 54-year old record for most international test tries.
After the 1988 Bledisloe series, he confessed marking John Kirwan, who had a good game, affected his confidence, so much that his mother sent him a poem titled ‘Winners Takes Chances.’ He would go on to read the poem before every test for rest of career.
During the tour of England, Scotland and Italy, he experienced one of the finest ever tours. He scored 15 tries and achieved a personal total of 72 points. He was undoubted star of the tour with banner reading ‘David Campese Walks on Water’ and gave him a rare honor of standing ovation as he left the field.
In 1989, when England lions toured, Campese was once again in the news best known as ‘Campo’s Corner.’ With Australia leading 12-9, in third test and deciding test, he miss-passed for lions to take lead and held on to win the test 19-18 and the series.
He got lot of abuse from media and from fans so much so that some Australian journalist used to call him all hours of the day and night. His brother Mario was attacked while leaving a Canberra nightclub and there was full-page ad for a range of rugby video ridiculing him.
On July 21, 1990, he played his 52ndtest match during the tour of New Zealand to become the most capped player for Australia.
The 1991, Rugby World Cup is the tournament clearly established Campese as the best in the world. He was the tournament’s joint leading try scorer and was named ‘Player of the tournament.’
Campese was dropped from the first test against France, in 1990, for the first time since his debut in 1982 and for the first and only time in his career he started from bench in the second Bledisloe Cup test match on July 29, 1995.
On August 22, 1992, Campese became the first Australian to play 70 test matches and the first rugby player to score 50 tries in test when Wallabies toured South Africa, after their return from international ban due to apartheid.
He ended his international career by playing his last match against Barbarians on December 07, 1996 at Twickenham. He scored a try in Wallabies 39-12 win.
Campese has made 12 appearances at the Hong Kong Sevens and was even awarded the Leslie Williams Award for Player of the Tournament in 1988. In 2015, he was named as one of the seven formative players in the ‘The Hong Kong Magnificent Seven’ in recognition of his service.
In 1989, he was selected as the Rothman’s Rugby Union Yearbook ‘Team of the Decade’ as a left-wing. He was one of the 15 selected by panel of former rugby players.
He was inducted into the ‘Sports Australia Hall of Fame’ in 1997 and in 2007 he was in the third set of inductees to be honored into the ‘Australian Rugby Union’ hall of fame. Finally in 2013 the International rugby union inducted him into ‘IRB Hall of Fame.’
He is married to Lara Benkenstein and they have three children, Sienna, Jason and Mercedes.