Italy national rugby league team

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Badge of Italia team
Nickname The Azzuri
Governing body Federazione Italiana Rugby League
Region Europe
Head coach Cameron Ciraldo
Captain Anthony Minichiello
Most caps Adam Capovilla
Home stadium Stadio Plebiscito
RLIF ranking 12th
First international
 France 29–17 Italy 
(Cahors, France; 1951)
Biggest win
 Italy 92–6 Russia 
(Stadio Plebiscito, Padova; 15 October 2011)
Biggest defeat
 Scotland 104–0 Italy 
(Stadio Plebiscito, Padova; 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 international rugby league football. The team dates back from the 1950s after the formation of a domestic competition in the country, and in the 1960s they played Australia, France and a number of English teams.

The game disappeared in Italy in the 1970s and no international matches were played. The team was revived in the mid-90s by two Italo-Australian Rugby League enthusiasts (Domenic Pezzano & John Benigni) and Italy began competing in various international tournaments. The team qualified for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, their first time to the tournament.

Currently the team is ranked 12th in the world, behind Scotland. Australian Trent Barrett coaches the team in qualifying matches, while Paul Broadbent will coach them in European Championship matches, and Sydney Roosters full back Anthony Minichiello captains the side.


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 Azzuri 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.[1] In 2006 the Federazione of Italia Rugby League (FIRL) were founded.

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.[2]

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.[3][4]

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.[5]

In 2013 they won a warm up match against 3rd ranked England 15–14 making it their most stunning victory.[6]

2013 World Cup Qualifying

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.[7]

2013 World Cup

File:Scotland v Italy 2013 RLWC (4).jpg
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

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.

2013 World Cup squad

The Italy national team squad selected for the 2013 World Cup tournament (caps and points apply for after the tournament finished):

Other Nat. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Pts Club
Australia Fullback Anthony Minichiello (Captain) (1980-05-24) 24 May 1980 (age 38) 7 4 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters
Australia Fullback James Tedesco (1993-01-08) 8 January 1993 (age 26) 3 4 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers
Argentina Fullback Fabrizio Ciaurro (1989-01-20) 20 January 1989 (age 30) 7 16 File:Italy colours.svg Tirreno Sharks
Australia Wing Josh Mantellato (1987-04-21) 21 April 1987 (age 32) 7 92 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights
England Centre James Saltonstall (1993-09-27) 27 September 1993 (age 25) 2 8 File:Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
Australia Centre Chris Centrone (1991-07-24) 24 July 1991 (age 27) 3 8 North Sydney colours.svg North Sydney Bears
France Centre Christophe Calegari (1984-06-03) 3 June 1984 (age 34) 6 12 File:France colours.svg FC Lézignan
Australia Stand-off Ryan Ghietti (1989-07-22) 22 July 1989 (age 29) 6 9 File:Northern Pride colours.png Northern Pride
Australia Halfback Ben Falcone (1988-07-11) 11 July 1988 (age 30) 7 28 Souths-Logan Magpies Colours.svg Souths Logan Magpies
Australia Halfback Tim Maccan (1982-06-05) 5 June 1982 (age 36) 0 0 Western Suburbs colours.svg Tweed Heads Seagulls
Australia Prop Sam Gardel (1988-01-19) 19 January 1988 (age 31) 1 0 Souths-Logan Magpies Colours.svg Souths Logan Magpies
Australia Prop Gavin Hiscox (1993-12-22) 22 December 1993 (age 25) 0 0 File:Australian colours.svg Central Queensland Capras
Australia Prop Anthony Laffranchi (1980-11-16) 16 November 1980 (age 38) 3 0 File:Saintscolours.svg St Helens
Australia Prop Kade Snowden (1986-12-31) 31 December 1986 (age 32) 2 0 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights
Australia Prop Paul Vaughan (1991-04-23) 23 April 1991 (age 28) 3 0 Canberra colours.svg Canberra Raiders
Australia Hooker Ray Nasso (1987-07-03) 3 July 1987 (age 31) 9 16 File:France colours.svg SO Avignon
Australia Hooker Dean Parata (1991-10-04) 4 October 1991 (age 27) 3 0 Parramatta colours.svg Parramatta Eels
Australia Second-row Cameron Ciraldo (1984-10-30) 30 October 1984 (age 34) 7 8 Panthers colours.svg Penrith Panthers
Australia Second-row Joel Riethmuller (1985-05-09) 9 May 1985 (age 34) 6 8 File:North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys
Australia Second-row Ryan Tramonte (1982-03-12) 12 March 1982 (age 37) 8 0 File:Australian colours.svg Windsor Wolves
Australia Second-row Aidan Guerra (1988-02-25) 25 February 1988 (age 31) 3 8 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters
Australia Second-row Mark Minichiello (1982-01-30) 30 January 1982 (age 37) 3 4 Gold Coast Titans colours.svg Gold Coast Titans
Italy Lock Gioele Celerino (1990-10-02) 2 October 1990 (age 28) 3 12 File:Italy colours.svg North West Roosters
Australia Lock Brenden Santi (1993-08-05) 5 August 1993 (age 25) 3 0 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers


Official Rankings as of December 2015[8]
Rank Change Team Points
1 Steady  New Zealand 897.00
2  Australia 719.00
3  England 655.00
4  Samoa 280.00
5  France 209.00
6 Increase  Ireland 162.00
7 Decrease  Fiji 147.00
8 Increase  Wales 132.00
9 Decrease  Scotland 121.00
10 Steady  United States 102.00
11 Increase  Serbia 72.00
12 Steady  Italy 65.00
13  Canada 62.00
14 Decrease  Papua New Guinea 60.00
15 Increase  Russia 46.00
16 Decrease  Tonga 40.00
17 Increase  Belgium 40.00
18  Malta 32.00
19 Steady  Germany 28.00
20  Lebanon 27.00
21 Increase  Spain 26.00
22 Decrease  Cook Islands 23.00
23  Ukraine 22.00
24 Steady  Greece 21.00
25 Increase  Denmark 20.00
26 Decrease  Norway 19.00
27 Increase  Jamaica 16.00
28 Decrease  Netherlands 15.00
29 Decrease  Sweden 15.00
30 Steady  Czech Republic 14.00
31 Decrease  South Africa 13.00
32 Steady  Niue 4.00
33  Hungary 2.00
34  Latvia 2.00
35  Morocco 0.00

Italy or Italy A has participated in:

Notable players that have played for Italy

Notable players of Italian Heritage

Overall record

The overall record for the Italian Rugby League, including all national team, competitions, international friendlies, tours and Italy A matches (all affiliated matches).

Against Played Won Lost Drawn  % Won
Total 53 26 25 2 49.57%

Results and fixtures

Below are the previous 5 matches of the national team. For all past match results, see the team's results page.
12 September 2015
Russia  26–6  Italy
Fily Stadium, Moscow
18 July 2015
Ukraine  12–40  Italy
National University of State Taxation Service of Ukraine, Irpin
20 June 2015
Italy  14–21  Serbia
Stadio comunale di Teglio Veneto, Gemona del Friuli
10 September 2014
Serbia  45–6  Italy
Makiš Stadium, Belgrade
26 July 2014
Italy  22–18  Russia
Stadio comunale di Teglio Veneto, Gemona del Friuli


Italy's kit suppliers are Fi-ta.

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

See also


External links