Representative honours and opportunities for Italian heritage rugby league

Representative honours and opportunities for Italian heritage rugby league Representative honours and opportunities for Italian heritage rugby league Representative honours and opportunities for Italian heritage rugby league

Federazione Italian Rugby League - Australia (FIRLA)



September 2021

European Under 19 Championship changed to Under 20 in 2021

2021 - 2021

Lignano - Italy

Event Details

September 2021

European Under 19 Championship changed to Under 20 in 2021



Following a board meeting convened earlier this week, the Rugby League European Feder...

Event Details

2021 - 2021

Lignano - Italy

Results 12 October 2019

Kirkham Oval - Elderslie

Event Details

Results 12 October 2019

FIRLA 18's (22) def Africa United (18)

FIRLA 16's (14) def Malta (8)

Italy 20 - Malta 23 - International

Kirkham Oval - Elderslie

19 October 2019


Windsor Sports Stadium

Event Details

19 October 2019


u/16 FIRLA (heritage) 20  def Philippines 16

u/18 FIRLA (heritage) 26 def Philippines 0

Italy 46 def Philippines 16 - International 

Windsor Sports Stadium

Italian Rugby League Functions & Events


FIRLA 2019 Presentation

Special awards were presented by Craig Salvatori, Nathan Brown and Daniel Alvaro


2019 RLWCQ Event - Club Marconi

Special guest - MC & Comedian - Vince Sorrenti


2019 RLWCQ Event - Club Marconi

Special guest - MC & Comedian - Vince Sorrenti


2019 RLWCQ Event - Club Marconi

Special guest - MC & Comedian - Vince Sorrenti

2017 RLWC Event - Doltone House -Special Guest MC - Matty Johns

2017 RLWC Event - Doltone House

Special Guest MC - Matty Johns, interviewing Terry Campese, Mirco Bergamasco, James Tedesco & Nathan Brown.

Sponsors photograph with Italian internationals - Daniel Alvaro and James Tedesco.

2016 RLWCQ Event - Novella Function Events

Sponsors group photo with NRL and Italian internationals - Daniel Alvaro, James Tedesco and 2017 RLWC Head Coach - Cameron Ciraldo.

About Us


Italian Rugby League History

Italian Rugby League History

Italian Rugby League History

Rugby League in Italy dates back to the 1950s when the Italians had their own Rugby League competition and also played several tournaments against other European nations. In 1959 the Australian Kangaroos actually played two games against an Italian thirteen on Italian soil.

In 1995 Italia Rugby League was revived by a couple of passionate enthusiasts by the names of Mick Pezzano and John Benigni. Pezzano and Benigni were determined to have a Rugby League team representing their origins compete again on the world stage.

That determination was rewarded when the Italian team was invited to play in the 1995 Coca Cola World Sevens, at the Sydney Football Stadium. This was Italy's first Rugby League tournament since the golden era of the 1950s and 1960s.

The 1995 Sevens comprised of 34 teams, including international representation from Great Britain, New Zealand, USA, Japan and Morocco. The Italian team performed admirably winning a game in their debut year, against Morocco. The Italians were the first “new” Rugby League country to win a game in their first year of the World Sevens tournament.

In 1996, the Super League World Nines were held for the first time. The Italian team was invited to participate in the tournament in Fiji, along with fifteen other countries. They were New Zealand, Australia, England, New Guinea, France, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Fiji, Western Samoa, Tonga, Morocco, Japan, USA and the Cook Islands.

The tournament ran over three days with the New Zealand team defeating New Guinea in the final. Italy finished in twelfth position and two memorable results were an 18-0 victory over Morocco and a narrow 0-4 loss to the powerful England line up.

In February 1997, the Italian team participated in the Coca Cola World Sevens at the Sydney Football Stadium, for the second time in its brief history. The team was coached by former Australian, NSW, Eastern Suburbs and South Sydney great, Craig Salvatori.

The week prior to the tournament, on the 1st of February, the team commenced it’s preparation and build up by playing a promotional match against the Australian Lebanese Sevens team, at the Marconi Soccer Stadium in Sydney’s west. The game was won by the Italians 16-14 and was played as a curtain raiser to the Marconi v Canberra National Soccer League game. This promotion and the support of Club Marconi, gave the Italian team added exposure to both the Rugby League and Soccer communities as well as the multicultural community in general.

In July 1998, the Italians were invited to play a promotional Test Match, known as the Mediterranean Cup, against the Lebanese team at Leichhardt Oval, as a curtain raiser to the Balmain v North Queensland first grade match.

The result favoured the Lebanese team - 24 to 12, however, the game proved to be a great promotion for the Balmain Tigers Club, the Italian and Lebanese communities and Rugby League in general.  

The Italian team for the Inaugural Mediterranean Cup was:  Adam Capovilla, Orazio D'arro, Adam Toro (C), Chris St Clair, Carmine Barbaro, Damian Sonego, Frank Napoli, Chad Brustolin, Daniel Paolini, Anthony Dalsanto, Ceser Toia, John Frare, Danian Mancuso, Peter Panozzo, Charlie Ienco, Nathan Furia, Trent Tavoletti, France Gendron

Coach: Craig Salvatori, Asst-Coach: Shannon Donato, Trainer: John Lewis, Asst- trainer: Charlie Galligo,  Managers: Mick Pezzano & John Benigni

Per uno sport alternativo RUGBY LEAGUE FOOTBALL - "the greatest game of all"  

FIRLA work very closely with Federazione Italiana Rugby League (FIRL) as a sub-committee that has been established to assist Italian heritage players in Australia and to provide support to Italian Rugby League and its growth and development in Italy.


A Tradition of Team Spirit

Italian Rugby League History

Italian Rugby League History

Our first venture into the NSWRL Harmony Cup was with our u/16 age group. coached by Carlo Napolitano, the team competed in this tournament.


Italian Rugby League History

World Youth Championships  


IN RUSSIA  - 2005

The players that represented the Italia Rugby League A XIII in the World Youth Championships held in Moscow – Russia from 22 September to 2 October 2005 were;

  1. Jack Borgo
  2. Tom Borgo
  3. Carlo Calandra
  4. Daniel Castellano
  5. Jay Florimo
  6. Francesco Frustaci
  7. Andrew Gallo
  8. Joel Guadiosi
  9. Steven Kadry
  10. Nathan Mantellato
  11. Daniel Nicastri  (Vice Captain)
  12. Todd Parlato
  13. Sam Puglisi
  14. David Silveri
  15. Daniel Sansone
  16. Nathan Valente
  17. Dean Velardi
  18. Nick Vescio (Captain)
  19. Joel Wellins

Head Coach: David Riolo

Head Trainer: John Giovanni Lewis

Trainer: Patrick Trimboli

Strapper: Peter Kerr

Tour Manager: Joe Romeo

Team Manager: Mick Pezzano

Results were as follows;

Our 1stround game was against France, the game started well for us and we went into the second half with a lead and then had one of our players sent to the bin for 10 minutes (Jack Borgo) in the second half. France scored twice in this period, we scored again and had one try disallowed, this was very disappointing as we were far the better team and that would have started our whole Cup campaign on a positive note. We lost three players in this game to injury, one of those players being Nathan Valente was elbowed in the head, he suffered serious concussion, was replaced and did not play again in the Tournament, so we lose one of our leading forwards in the team, he does not play in the remaining tournament games, and we get a penalty out of it!!

Our Players player in this game was Daniel Nicastri - Centre.

Our 2ndround game was against Australia.

We went into this game very focused, realizing that we needed to win this match in order to stay in touch for a Cup finals birth.

The first half was great to watch, both teams were trying to out play the other with attacking raids, but some solid defence from both teams put a stop to any planned set plays. We were down 4 nil at half time, this game was a very physical encounter with some feeling between both teams. The Australians came out strong in the second half, we did not have the player depth of the bench to match them. An all in brawl erupted in the second half and the referee was having to work overtime in keeping the teams apart.  From watching the whole tournament games, I think it was far the most difficult game for the Australians and they commented how tough it was.  

It was a telling point in not having enough fresh inter change players of the bench, having lost both Nathan Valente and Jay Florimo in the 1stround match to injuries.

Our Players player in this game was Todd Parlato - Second Rower.

We were the only team to trouble Australia during the Championship Tournament, they had defeated all the other teams and France in the Cup Final, by margins of 30 to 50 points.

We then played Russia in our 3rd pool game, winning 20 – 4.Once again we did this tough has we had our front rower Francesco Frustaci sent off for throwing a punch in the 4thminute of the game, but still managed to overcome a determined Russian team.

Players player - Andrew Gallo - Centre

We then played Scotland in the Semi-final of the Plate Competition, defeating them  

36 – 0.Not many highlights in this game, as we were expected to win this game easily.

Player’s player - Daniel Sansone - Second Row

We then played Russia in the Plate Final, defeating them 36 to 14. This was a difficult match, as once again we were expected to win. However playing the Russian team on Russian soil, with a Russian Referee and an 800 plus Russian vocal crowd, meant that we had to work hard for our win. As we skipped away to decent leads during the match, the Russian team managed to just stay in touch with us, thanks to the class of our Centre Andrew Gallo and some great defensive work from our Five-eight Steven Kadry, the team managed to post 36 points to take out the Plate Final.

Players player - Andrew Gallo – Centre

Leading Italian Try scorer:

Andrew Gallo - 6 tries

David Silveri - 6 tries

Daniel Nicastri        - 2 tries

Steven Kadry - 2 tries

Tom Borgo - 2 try

Jack Borgo - 1 try

Dean Velardi - 1 try

Todd Parlato - 1 try

Daniel Sansone - 1 try

Francesco Frustaci - 1 try

The IRL A XIII had two of its players named in the "World U/16 Team", they were Daniel Nicastri and Andrew Gallo, both our centres. On behalf of all the Management and Players we extend out congratulation to both Andrew and Daniel for being selected in this World Team.

Weather conditions were very good in Russia, however we played on a synthetic surface, which resulted in a high number of injuries, including severe grazes and concussions.  

Referees were from France, Russia and one Australian.

We would like to thank all our supporters and Sponsors “University of Wollongong and Club Marconi”for their financial support and the many individual sponsors who supported the players and the IRL A XIII in competing in the Youth World Championships.


Access to  FIRLA Membership offers and International Rugby League Eligibility rules, Code of Conduct.

FIRLA Membership offers PDF (pdf)


Eligibility rules Oct 2016 (pdf)


FIRLA Constitution & Rules 1 (pdf)


FIRLA Code of Conduct 2019 (pdf)


FIRLA Forms (Membership)

To become a FIRLA member, please download the FIRLA Membership form, complete details and submit with payment. 

FIRLA Full membership form (pdf)


FIRLA Membership offers PDF (pdf)



All FIRLA players are required to complete the following forms, in order to be eligible to play and be officially registered for the playing season (Check list, Player Heritage, Details, Registration, Insurance) 

FIRLA Heritage Player Rego form (pdf)


FIRLA player private health declaration (pdf)


FIRLA Registration checklist (pdf)


FIRLA player details form (pdf)







Federazione Italian Rugby League – Australia



To play representative rugby league at a junior and/or senior level is a great accomplishment for any rugby league player. For a player to participate against other representative teams and international teams is what a rugby league player dreams about and strives to achieve. Federazione Italian Rugby League – Australia (FIRLA) has been established in order to provide junior & senior players born in Australia with Italian heritage opportunities and a pathway to participate in representative and international fixtures and tournaments.

Italian Rugby League History:

Rugby League in Italy was played during the 1950's & 60's and during this period there were over 30 established rugby league clubs located in Italy. Unfortunately and due to unforeseen circumstances and pressure from the  rugby union fraternity and limited support from government officials during that period, saw rugby league struggle to continue and its existence ceased. Without no financial support and the threat of no insurance coverage for participants, players were forced to make a choice.

The sporting code of Rugby League is now once again being played in Italy and since 1994 when it was revived by two Italo-Australians living in Sydney, Italy have developed to a level which enabled them to qualify and  participate in its first ever Rugby League World Cup, which took place in England during October 2013.  Federazione Italiana Rugby League (FIRL) are the official governing body of Rugby League in Italy.

Due to a large immigration of Italians into Australia dating back from the 1920's, has now seen a number of 1st, 2nd,3rd& 4th  generation Italo-Australians playing the code of rugby league. Italian is the fifth most identified ancestry in Australia behind Australian, English, Irish and Scottish (sourced:

Italian Heritage Players

Players with Italian background have successfully adopted to rugby league and over the many years have seen a number of players with Italian heritage reach the highest selection level of 1st grade ARL & NRL, Super League, NSW & Queensland Origin, Prime-minister’s XIII and the Australian Kangaroo’s.  

Italian heritage players such as:  Greg Florimo, Dean Schiffiliti, David Riolo, Niel Piccinelli,  

Chris St.Clair, Craig Salvatori, Paul Dezolt, Terry Campese, Darren Capovilla, Jason Bulgarelli, Mark Corvo, Luke Davico, Ben Sorbello, Simon Bonetti, Shannon Donato, David Penna,  

Paul Franz'e, Frank Napoli,  Anthony & Mark Minichiello, Cameron Ciraldo, Joel Riethmuller, Josh Mantellato, Paul Vaughan, Aidan Guerra, James Tedesco, Brendan Santi and  Daniel Alvaro have all represented Italian Rugby League in line with their Italian heritage.   

Some of the achievements have been: Anthony Minichiello first representing Italy as a 19 year old in the 1999 World Cup Qualifiers in Europe and later Captaining Italy (FIRL) in 2011 Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers & 2013 Rugby League World Cup; James Tedesco playing for FIRLA in the U/16 Harmony Cup, then being selected in the Italian team (FIRL) that participated in the 2013 and 2017 Rugby League World Cup; Cameron Ciraldo representing Italian rugby League in the 2009 Mediterranean Shield, 2011 Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers & 2013 Rugby League World Cup and now appointed as Head coach of FIRL for the 2016 Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers and 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Former 1st grade and Italian heritage rugby league players such as Fred Pagano, Leo Epifania, Ciriaco Mescia andTas Baitieri, continue to support the Italian Rugby League and promote its existence and development.


The current rules of eligibility in International Rugby League allow for a person to represent a country if:
they are born there;

either parent or grandparent was born; or
• the player has completed three years of residence in that country up to date of selection.

FIRLA recognises that some players family heritage  extends beyond a grandparent and it is in this situation that FIRLA acknowledges and considers opportunities for representation.  

If a player can identify with their heritage and does not fall within the current rules of eligibility in International Rugby League, this in itself does not necessarily end any opportunity of player representing Italy (FIRLA) or even FIRL.

Remembering with a domestic rugby league competition being played in Italy once again, a player that falls outside these rules, can still qualify for eligibility if they complete three years of residency, either as studying, working or playing sport in that country.

Therefore, FIRLA will always consider the players heritage and will support and provide every available opportunity for participation in representative rugby league under the FIRLA emblem.

FIRLA now provides junior & senior players with Italian heritage opportunities to play representative rugby league and also a pathway to allow players with potential and ability to progress into established competitions such as National Youth Cup, NSW Cup, Queensland Cup, Super League and NRL. FIRLA have access to elite rugby league coach's such as Cameron Ciraldo, Leo Epifania and Mick Mantelli that provide astute coaching and development of rugby league players.

Players that have either Grand-Parent/s or Parent/s that were born in Italy, have an opportunity to represent FIRLA and also if they comply with International criteria, can be considered for selection to represent the national Italian team via Federazione Italiana Rugby League (FIRL).

Players are encouraged to research what part of Italy that their Grand-Parent/s or Parent/s originate from. It is extremely important to have an understanding where a players heritage originates from in order to appreciate the Italian cultural background and family heritage.  Players are encouraged to discuss with their Parent/s or Grand-parent/s in which specific region and town within Italy that the family connection commenced.

Facts such as location and what importance the region and town is best known for, is crucial for a FIRLA  representative player to be aware of. FIRLA encourages each of its representative players

and officials to be aware of their family origin and to appreciate the importance of representing FIRLA and what significance it means to represent a family's heritage.

Below are the 20 Regions located in Italy.  


  1. List of Italian Regions and capital cities:



Aosta - Valley Aosta












Giulia Trieste














The Marches



Adige Trento







(Reference source:

Each player will be required to complete a 'Heritage Player International Registration form' and provide the relevant supporting documentation such as a Grand-parent/s or Parent/s birth certificate. This information is required in order to comply with requirements of the International and European Rugby League Federations and for future reference and verification of eligibility to represent both FIRLA and FIRL as required.

If you have any questions in relation to your eligibility or require more information, please contact us via email or post via details listed on this website (

By Domenic Pezzano





 FIRLA are proud to have had a number of Italian heritage players that have commenced their careers representing Italy at International level. Players such as Anthony Minichiello, James Tedesco, Daniel Alvaro, Nathan Brown, Joseph Tramontana, have all worn the famous Azzurri jersey.

Over the years, a number of Italian Heritage players have been selected to represent Italy in a number of international tournaments, such as;

World Sevens - Sydney, World Nines - Fiji, World Cup Qualifiers in Italy, Russia, Serbia, France, Emerging Nations World Cup - England, Rugby League World Cups in England and Australia.

When an opportunity presents itself, a player must be willing and ready to take it.  A number of Italian heritage players have gone on to play 1st grade in both NRL and Super League competitions. To be given an opportunity to play representative rugby league at a junior level against other rugby league nations is an experience that will be never forgotten. 





1954 Tour details

Amateur International Tournament

Good Friday 16 April 1954 v FRANCE amateurs – Lost 6-20 at Fartown, Huddersfield – 2,950. Ref: Ernie Clay (England).

Easter Monday 19 April 1954 v ENGLAND amateurs – Lost 11-18 at Thrum Hall, Halifax – 2,000. Ref: M Bizot (France).

England: H Brown (Cumberland), G Dougherty (Lancashire), A Colburn (Yorkshire), G Maloney (Lancs ©), D Lindop (Yorks), R Davies (Yorks), J Roper (Cumb), J Logan (Cumb), J Crewdson (Cumb), A Hartley (Lancs), G Lloyd (Lancs), G Sharp (Yorks), J Briggs (Yorks). Res: E Birch (Lancs), 

J Brown (Yorks).  

Distington’s John ‘Sol’ Roper was just 17 years old, the youngest ever amateur international, making a try-scoring debut against France the week before. Twelve months later, Roper was playing for Workington Town in the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley. Full-back Henry Brown of Kells never turned professional and emigrated to Canada.

Ten of the XIII in the Amateur International Tournament were from Torino with odd men out being hooker Colli from Milano, and forward Masetti brothers from a French club. Signor F Rama from Italy refereed England v France on the Easter Saturday.

Italy wore white jerseys with red, white and green V so England wore change strip of red against Italy.  

In programme, RFL secretary Bill Fallowfield noted: “It will be remembered that when, on 3 January 1954. a ‘United Nations’ team played France at Lyon… the outstanding forward on the field was the Italian Giovanni Vigna”.

Italy squad:

1 G Aleati (Torino)

2 A De Giacomi (Torino)

3 O Tescari (Torino)

4 B Beretta (Torino)

5 G Franco (Torino)

6 G Tamagno (Torino)

7 S Aleati (Torino)

8 G Bonino (Torino)

9 A Colli (Milano)

10 O Masetti (French club???)

11 C Campi (Torino)

12 G Vigna (Torino)

13 A Masetti (French club?)

Also touring;

F Andreoletti, P F Antonioli, A Arrigoni, V Cardini, L Fogliati, P Liguoro, G Frova, F Barzaghi, S Cuscito, A Guerrini, G Orecchia, U Baldassin, V Rassaval.

Seven match Tour of Yorkshire (plus Leigh) in 1954:

7 April 1954 v Bradford Northern – 7,000

10 April 1954 v York – lost 17-54 – 4,000

14 April 1954 v Hunslet – lost 23-40 – 3,300

16 April 1954 v France at Huddersfield  - lost 6-20 – 2,950

Just two days after playing three games in a week!

19 April 1954 v England at Halifax – lost 11-18 – 2,000

20 April v Keighley – lost 27-57 – 3,500

Day after international – how many of same players? How big was squad?

21 April v Leigh – lost 7-35 – 5,000

Incredible not to lose by more in third game in three days, sixth in 12! Fighting spirit?  

Former Australian international Rex Mossop played for Italy on loan from Leigh.

Played 7 Lost 7 For 109 Against 291.

Contact was made  with Dual Australian International Rex Mossop and he responded  to Mick Pezzano on 26 August 1993 and described in a hand written letter , his involvement  playing against the  national Italian team  in Padua and Treviso and with an Italian touring team  in 1952 (Lacanshire) in front of a crowd f 15,000.

FIRLA activities in QueenslAnd

Headed by Senior Vice President - FIRLA - Peter Narducci.

2019 Result in Tully - 28 Oct 2019


 Nth Pride (Development Squad) 44 def FIRLA (U/21's) 32

Seniors FIRLA 38 def  Q'land Samoa 26


Our Sponsors


Our Partners and Affiliates


Contact Us

Drop us a line

Please contact us in relation to sponsorship opportunities

If you would like to be involved with FIRLA as a Sponsor, Member, Coaching, Support staff or just a supporter of italian rugby league, please drop us a line, detailing your specific interest.


Sponsor information

If you are a company or have a product, then contact us and be part of the FIRLA family. Their are a number of sponsorship packages available, ranging from; jersey,  shorts, training gear and individual players sponsorship. We can provide to you a sponsorship package to cater for your needs and within your budget.



President: Carmine Barbaro

Snr vice-president: Peter Narducci

Vice-president: Anthony Gagliardi

Secretary: Ross-John Bonacorrsi

Treasurer: Steve Kadry

Registrar: Rick Baitieri

Football Operations Manager: 

Leo Epifania


For all inquiries, please complete the 'contact us' section. 

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Federazione Italian Rugby League - Australia (FIRLA) are a sub-committee of the main Federazione Italiana Rugby League (FIRL)

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