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Italy national rugby league team

The Italy national rugby league team represents Italy in rugby league football. With origins dating back to the 1950s and 1960s, 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 13th in the RLIF World Rankings.

Badge of Italia team
Team information
Governing bodyFederazione Italiana Rugby League
Head coachRLWC Cameron Ciraldo RLWCQ Leo Epifania
CaptainMark Minichiello
Most capsGioele Celerino, Matthew Sands (16)[a]
Top try-scorerRichard Lepori (12)[a]
Top point-scorerJosh Mantellato (116)[a]
Home stadiumStadio Plebiscito
RLIF ranking13th
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
Appearances2 (first time in 2013)
Best resultGroup stage, 2013, 2017


Official Men's Rankings as of November 2019
Rank Change* Team Pts%
1   2   New Zealand
2   1   Australia
3   1   England
4     Tonga
5     Fiji
6   4   Papua New Guinea
7     Samoa
8   2   France
9   1   Scotland
10   1   Lebanon
11   5   Greece
12     Ireland
13   1   Italy
14   3   Wales
15   4   Serbia
16   1   Malta
17   1   Norway
18   3   United States
19   4   Poland
20   7   Jamaica
21   1   Hungary
22   3   Czech Republic
23   5   Cook Islands
24   7   Turkey
25   1   Netherlands
26   4   Spain
27   6   Canada
28     Nigeria
29   2   Solomon Islands
30   10   Sweden
31   4   Germany
32   1   Chile
33     Ghana
34   16   Morocco
35   3   Vanuatu
36     South Africa
37   8   Russia
38     Cameroon
39   2   Ukraine
40   1   Colombia
41   4   Brazil
42     Belgium
43   4   Denmark
44   4   Bulgaria
45   4   Latvia
*Change from July 2019

In 1950, a team from Turin toured the North of England. Italy later started 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, the 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.[1]

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 qualifyingEdit

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 CupEdit

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 qualifyingEdit

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 consisted 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 featured two groups of three teams playing in a single round-robin format. The winners of each group qualified for the World Cup, while the runners-up faced each other in a play-off match on 5 November 2016 to determine the final spot. A seeded draw took place to determine the groups on 5 November 2015. Italy are placed in Group A alongside European B tournament champions Serbia, and Wales.


Current squadEdit

Squad selected for test vs South Africa in October 2018;[8]

Notable representativesEdit

The following is a list of Italian representative 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 fixturesEdit

Recent resultsEdit

29 October 2017
Ireland   36 – 12   Italy
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


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 alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Correct as of 22 November 2017. See List of Italy national rugby league team players for more details.


  1. ^ Italia Rugby League History
  2. ^ RLEF – Italy Profile
  3. ^ European Cup Relegation Match Report – Italy – Serbia
  4. ^ Italy V Serbia Match Details
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ (29 October 2011). "Italy clinch World Cup place". Sky Sports. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  8. ^ Italia RL
  9. ^ Gabor, Martin (29 October 2017). "Stylish Irish cruise past Azzurri". Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Test Match, l'Italia pareggia 24-24 con Malta a Sydney" (in Italian). Federazione Italia Rugby League. 9 October 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  11. ^ Portoghese, Matteo (19 June 2017). "L'Italia del rugby league si gode il suo momento d'oro" (in Italian). Mondo Sportivo. Retrieved 19 September 2017.

External linksEdit