Australia legend and one of the great wingers of all-time David Campese has been officially inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame at a special ceremony ahead of Saturday’s South Africa v Australia Rugby Championship match in Cape Town.

Born in 1962, Campese grew up playing rugby league but, at the age of 16, he joined his local club, Queanbeyan Whites, and made an instant impact. He went on to represent Australia Capital Territory, New South Wales, Australia Under 21 and Australia. 

His precocious talent was rewarded early when he made his full international debut at the age of 19 against New Zealand in 1982, the first of his 101 caps, which was an Australian record at the time of his retirement in 1996. Regarded as a genuine rugby entertainer and one of Australia’s all-time greats, he was a member of the winning team at Rugby World Cup 1991 and was voted player of the tournament in the process. 

In all, he scored 64 test tries, a world record at the time of his retirement although it was subsequently broken by Japan’s Daisuke Ohata. 

On Thursday, Australia coach Ewen McKenzie presented the framed IRB Hall of Fame cap and pin to Campese in front of the entire Wallabies squad.

Upon receiving the award, Campese said: “From a freckle-faced little boy, living in a tiny town in Australia, I was catapulted into the international rugby spotlight and from that day onwards I never looked back. 

“Rugby has provided me so much more than just the opportunity to play it. I travelled the world to places I never dreamed of, I experienced and began to understand the most diverse cultures and I met the most amazing people, all of which have influenced the person I am today. 

“I learned early on that you should always take opportunities when they come your way and the harder you work, the luckier you become. Awards like this come across once in a lifetime and acknowledge all the hard work on and off the field. Rugby is like theatre – it's a performance but the preparation and dedication that goes on behind the scenes is where the magic happens.” 

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “It is with great pleasure that we have now presented David with his cap and pin. His pace, complete footballing skills, unpredictability and vision made him a crowd favourite all over the world, not just in his native Australia. As a finisher, there were few better in the history of our great sport, and he was rightly a mainstay of the Wallabies team for a decade and a half, which is remarkable in any era.”


The IRB Hall of Fame was launched in 2006 with the induction of Rugby School and William Webb Ellis. Since then the following legends have been inducted: Baron Pierre de Coubertin, Danie Craven, Wilson Whineray, Gareth Edwards, John Eales, The 1888 Natives Team and Joseph Warbrick, Ned Haig and the Melrose club, Jack Kyle, Philippe Sella, Hugo Porta, William Maclagan, Barry Heatlie, Bennie Osler, Cliff Morgan, Tony O’Reilly, Frik du Preez, Syd Millar, Willie John McBride, Ian McGeechan, Jean Prat, Lucien Mias, Andre and Guy Boniface, Serge Blanco, Harry Vassall and Alan Rotherham, Cardiff RFC and Frank Hancock, David Gallaher, Barbarian FC and WP Carpmael, Mike Gibson, Roger Vanderfield, Richard Littlejohn, Nicholas Shehadie, John Kendall-Carpenter, David Kirk, Brian Lochore, Nick Farr-Jones, Bob Dwyer, Francois Pienaar, Kitch Christie, Rod Macqueen, Gareth Rees, Clive Woodward, Jonah Lomu, Jake White, Brian Lima, Agustín Pichot, Martin Johnson, John Smit, Gordon Tietjens, Ian and Donald Campbell, Yoshihiro Sakata, the 1924 Romanian Olympic Team, the gold medal-winning USA Olympic Team of 1920 and 1924, Richard and Kennedy Tsimba, Alfred St George Hamersley, Vladimir Ilyushin, Waisale Serevi, Thomas Lawton, John Thornett, Ken Catchpole, Mark Ella, David Campese, George Gregan, Robert Seddon and the 1888 British team, David Bedell-Sivright, Bleddyn Williams, Jack Matthews, Ronnie Dawson, Gavin Hastings, Fred Allen, Don Clarke, Grant Fox, Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Jones, Ian Kirkpatrick, John Kirwan, Terry McLean, Colin Meads, Graham Mourie and George Nepia.