1991: Campo's golden touch

By Dylan Cleaver

David Campese in full flow against the All Blacks during their semifinal clash at Lansdowne Road.
Photo / Getty Images
David Campese in full flow against the All Blacks during their semifinal clash at Lansdowne Road. Photo / Getty Images

Tournament star: David Campese

In discussing the enigma that was David Ian Campese, the finest Australian midfielder of his generation turned to the finest Australian forward of his generation and in jest said something like: "Campo fell in love with himself at a young age - and has remained faithful ever since."

What John Eales did not know then was that when relaying fellow Queenslander Tim Horan's comment among a group of internationals in a more relaxed setting, a Scottish prop would pick it up and use it in his autobiography. The only change David Sole made was to ignore the fact it was made in humour and attribute the suddenly biting remark to Eales.

One of the Wallabies happened to read this book and took Eales aside, mentioning that Campo might not be particularly impressed that a young whippersnapper had besmirched his good name.

A panicked Eales decided to front-foot the issue, charging up to the great man's room, knocking on the door and, as Campo never allowed anybody into his room, asking him in the corridor if he'd happened to read Sole's book.

"Nah," said Campo.

"I wouldn't bother then, it's not very good," said a relieved Eales, scurrying away.

He needn't have worried, teammates later told him, the only book Campo would ever read would be a book about himself.

You might guess then, that David Campese was a bit different. In a sport that tended to self-police against those who got too big for their boots, Campo - who bragged of being a rugby millionaire long before the game went professional - remained at large over the 14-year span of his international career, which included 101 test caps.

But it was the two months of the World Cup in 1991 that defined his on-field legacy. You could distil that down even further, to the 40 minutes of the first half of Australia's semifinal victory against the All Blacks.

Stung by recent criticism over a few high-profile blunders, Campese was desperate to make magic happen at the World Cup. Two years earlier he had been vilified for "losing" the series against the Lions, when he threw a wayward pass to Greg Martin in his own in-goal, a pass that was pounced upon by Welshman Ieuan Evans.

The Lions won that deciding third test 19-18 and Campese was the obvious target of the widespread discontent. Even his teammates were said to have snubbed him in the sheds that afternoon, though Nick Farr-Jones would later write a letter in defence of the winger in the Sydney Morning Herald. The spot of the ground where he threw the pass was renamed Campo's corner and he would later admit he contemplated retirement.

Like all true champions, Campese decided to get angry and even. The World Cup in Britain and Ireland was his chance.

He scored two tries against Argentina and one against Wales before meeting Ireland in the match of the tournament. Campo scored another two tries but Australia needed a last-minute score from Michael Lynagh to seal a 19-18 win.

That set up a semifinal with the All Blacks, again in Dublin.

The All Blacks were normally held in great esteem at Lansdowne Road, but this was not a popular New Zealand side. Considered arrogant and aloof by the local press, they were also a team on the slide.

Age, injuries and conceit had made them vulnerable and Campese was just the man to expose that.

As the All Blacks performed their haka, Campese was by himself at the back of the in-goal area, practising his kicking and seemingly oblivious to the challenge. As it turned out, the haka was about as challenging as the All Blacks got all afternoon.

In just the 12th minute, Campese took the ball at first receiver and set off on an apparently innocuous angled run. With those outside him threatening to run off his inside shoulder, the All Blacks defence and in particular the great John Kirwan, were transfixed. Kirwan was turned inside then out and by the time anybody had cottoned on to the fact Campese had no intention of passing, the great winger had scored.

That may or may not have been a planned move, but the try he set up for Horan in the 35th minute was pure instinct.

Gathering a Lynagh chip, Campese scooted past John Timu and beat Kieran Crowley with a step. In doing so Timu was closing in again so Campese threw a no-look pass over his right shoulder that Horan gathered up to score. Game over.

It wasn't to be Campese's last act at the World Cup. While he didn't have a great game in the final, he was still the most important player.

In the lead-up he was quoted ad nauseam about how boring England were and how scared they were to try anything. Lo and behold, a taunted England came out and tried to throw the ball all over Twickenham, negating the dominance they had in the tight five.

In years to come, that might be the Campo story that outlasts the rest.

1991 tournament results
Pool A
October 3, at Twickenham: New Zealand 18 (Michael Jones try; Grant Fox con, 4 pen) England 12 (Jonathan Webb 3 pen, drop goal). Referee: Jim Fleming (Scotland).

October 5, at Cross Green, Otley: Italy 30 (Stefano Barba, Ivan Francescato, Paolo Vaccari, Fabio Gaetaniello tries; Diego Dominguez 4 con, 2 pen) United States 9 (Kevin Swords try; Mark Williams con, pen). Referee: Owen Doyle (Ireland).

October 8, at Kingsholm, Gloucester: New Zealand 46 (Terry Wright 3, Andy Earl, Graham Purvis, John Timu, Va'aiga Tuigamala, Craig Innes tries; Jon Preston 4 con, 2 pen) United States 6 (Williams 2 pen). Referee: Efraim Sklar (Argentina).

October 8, at Twickenham: England 36 (Jeremy Guscott 2, Rory Underwood, Webb tries; Webb 4 con, 4 pen) Italy 6 (Marcello Cuttitta try; Dominguez con). Referee: Brian Anderson (Scotland).

October 11, at Twickenham: England 37 (Underwood 2, Will Carling, Mickey Skinner, Nigel Heslop tries; Simon Hodgkinson 4 con, 3 pen) United States 9 (Ray Nelson try; Williams con, pen). Referee: Les Peard (Wales).

October 13, at Welford Rd, Leicester: New Zealand 31 (Zinzan Brooke, Innes, Tuigamala, Jason Hewett tries; Fox 3 con, 3 pen) Italy 21 (Cuttitta, Massimo Bonomi tries; Dominguez 2 con, 3 pen). Referee: Kerry Fitzgerald (Australia).

Pool B
October 5, at Murrayfield, Scotland: Scotland 47 (Scott Hastings, Tony Stanger, Craig Chalmers, Derek White, penalty try, Iwan Tukalo, Gavin Hastings tries; Gavin Hastings 5 con, 2 pen, Chalmers pen) Japan 9 (Takahiro Hosokawa try; Hosokawa con, drop goal). Referee: Ed Morrison (England).

October 6, at Landsdowne Rd, Dublin: Ireland 55 (Brian Robinson 4, Nick Popplewell 2, Simon Geoghegan, David Curtis tries; Ralph Keyes 4 con, 5 pen) Zimbabwe 11 (Brendon Dawson, William Schultz tries; Andrew Ferreira pen). Referee Keith Lawrence (New Zealand).

October 9, at Landsdowne Rd, Dublin: Ireland 32 (Noel Mannion 2, Pat O'Hara, Jim Staples tries; Keyes 2 con, 4 pen) Japan 16 (Toshiyuki Hayashi, Hiroyuki Kajihara, Yoshihito Yoshida tries; Hosokawa 2 con). Referee: Laikini Colati (Fiji).

October 9, at Murrayfield, Edinburgh: Scotland 51 (Tukalo 3, Derek Turnbull, Scott Hastings, Stanger, Doddie Weir, White tries; Peter Dods 5 con, 2 pen; Doug Wylie drop goal) Zimbabwe 12 (Andrew Garvey 2 tries; Brian Currin 2 con). Referee: Don Reordan (United States).

October 12, at Murrayfield, Edinburgh: Scotland 24 (Graham Shiel, Gary Armstrong tries; Gavin Hastings 2 con, 3 pen; Chalmers drop goal) Ireland 15 (Keyes 4 pen, drop goal). Referee: Fred Howard (England).

October 13, at Ravenhill Stadium, Belfast: Japan 52 (Yoshida 2, Terunori Mashuho 2, Eiji Kutsuki 2, Masami Horikoshi, Ekeroma Luaiufi, Katsuhiro Matsuo tries; Hosokawa 2 con, 4 pen), Zimbabwe 8 (Richard Tsimba, Honeywell Nguruve tries). Referee: Rene Hourquet (France).

Pool C
October 4, at Stradey Park, Llanelli: Australia 32 (David Campese 2, Tim Horan 2, Phil Kearns; Michael Lynagh 3 con, 2 pen) Argentina 19 (Martin Teran 2 tries, Guillermo Del Castillo con, pen; Lisandro Arbizu 2 drop goals). Referee: David Bishop (New Zealand).

October 6, at Cardiff Arms Park: Western Samoa 16 (To'o Vaega, Sila Vaifale tries; Matthew Vaea con, 2 pen) Wales 13 (Arthur Emyr, Ieuan Evans tries; Mark Ring con, pen). Referee: Patrick Robin (France).

October 9, at Pontypool Park: Australia 9 (Lynagh 3 pen) Western Samoa 3 (Vaea pen). Referee: Ed Morrison (England).

October 9, at Cardiff Arms Park: Wales 16 (Paul Arnold try; Ring 3 pen; Mike Rayer pen) Argentina 7 (Hernan Simon try; Del Castillo pen). Referee: Rene Hourquet (France).

October 12, at Cardiff Arms Park: Australia 38 (Marty Roebuck 2, Peter Slattery, Campese, Horan, Lynagh tries; Lynagh 4 con, 2 pen) Wales 3 (Ring pen). Referee: Keith Lawrence (New Zealand).

October 13, at Sardis Rd, Pontypridd: Western Samoa 35 (Timo Tagaola 2, Brian Lima 2, Frank Bunce, Steve Bachop tries; Vaea 4 con, pen) Argentina 12 (Teran try; Arbizu con, pen; Eduardo Laborde pen). Referee: Brian Anderson (Scotland).

Pool D
October 4, at Stade de la Mediterranee, Beziers: France 30 (Olivier Roumat, Jean-Baptiste Lafond, penalty try, Philippe Saint-Andre tries; Didier Camberabero con, 4 pen) Romania 3 (Neculai Nichitean pen). Referee: Les Peard (Wales).

October 5, at Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne: Canada 13 (Scott Stewart try; Gareth Rees 3 pen) Fiji 3 (Waisale Serevi drop goal). Referee: Kerry Fitzgerald (Australia).

October 8, at Stade Lesdiguieres, Grenoble: France 33 (Lafond 3, Philippe Sella 2, Camberabero tries; Camberabero 3 con, pen) Fiji 9 (Pita Naruma try; Severo Koroduadua con, pen). Referee: Derek Bevan (Wales).

October 9, at Stade Ernest-Wallon, Toulouse: Canada 19 (Gordon McKinnon, Glen Ennis tries; Mark Wyatt con, 2 pen; Rees drop goal) Romania 11 (Adrian Lungu, Catalin Sasu tries; Nichitean pen). Referee: Sandy MacNeill (Australia).

October 12, at Parc Municipal des Sports, Brive: Romania 17 (Gheorghe Ion, Haralambie Dumitras, Sasu tries; Nicolae Racean con; Nichitean pen) Fiji 15 (Opeti Turuva 2 tries; Tomasi Rabaka 2 con; Turuva drop goal). Referee: Owen Doyle (Ireland).

October 13, at Stade Armandie, Agen: France 19 (Lafond, Saint-Andre tries; Camberabero con, pen; Thierry Lacroix 2 pen) Canada 13 (Wyatt try; Wyatt pen; Rees pen, drop goal). Referee: Stephen Hilditch (Ireland).

Quarter-finals
October 19, at Parc des Princes, Paris: England 19 (Underwood, Carling tries; Webb con, 3 pen) France 10 (Lafond try; Lacroix 2 pen). Referee: David Bishop (New Zealand).

October 19, at Murrayfield: Scotland 28 (John Jeffrey 2, Stanger tries; Gavin Hastings 2 con, 4 pen) Western Samoa 6 (Vaea pen; Bachop drop goal). Referee: Derek Bevan (Wales).

October 20, at Landsdowne Rd: Australia 19 (Campese 2, Lynagh tries; Lynagh 2 con, pen) Ireland 18 (Gordon Hamilton try; Keyes con, 3 pen, drop goal). Referee: Jim Fleming (Scotland).

October 20, at Stadium Lille-Metropole Villeneuve d'Ascq: New Zealand 29 (Timu 2, Bernie McCahill, Brooke, John Kirwan tries; Fox 3 con, pen) Canada 13 (Chris Tynan, Al Charron tries; Rees con; Wyatt pen). Referee: Fred Howard (England).

Semifinals
October 26, at Murrayfield: England 9 (Webb 2 pen; Rob Andrew drop goal) Scotland 6 (Gavin Hastings 2 pen). Referee: Kerry Fitzgerald (Australia).

October 27, at Millennium Stadium: Australia 16 (Campese, Horan tries; Lynagh con, 2 pen) New Zealand 6 (Fox 2 pen). Referee: Jim Fleming (Scotland).

Third place play-off
October 30, at Cardiff Arms Park: New Zealand 13 (Walter Little try; Preston 3 pen) Scotland 6 (Gavin Hastings 2 pen). Ref: S. Hilditch (Ireland).

Final
November 2, at Twickenham: Australia 12 (Tony Daly try; Lynagh con, 2 pen) England 6 (Webb 2 pen). Referee: Derek Bevan (Wales).

Top point scorer: 68 - Ralph Keyes, Ireland

Top try scorer: 6 - David Campese, Australia, and Jean-Baptiste Lafond, France

Highest score: 55 - Ireland v Zimbabwe

Biggest winning margin: 44 - (Ireland 55 Zimbabwe 11 and Japan 52 Zimbabwe 8)

Most tries in a match: 6 - France (v Fiji)

1987
Video: Great World Cup moments - 1987
In the beginning: Remembering our last victory drink
How we won: The All Blacks - Getting the nation back into black
Setting the scene: Long road to global rugby supremacy
A sending off that made Wallaby history
All Black memories: 'Dawn of a new era'
Tournament star: Michael Jones - Keeping up with Jones
Tournament action: Fans' lukewarm start fast turned to fervour

1991
Video: Great World Cup moments - 1991
How we won: The Wallabies - Defeats led to success
Aussie's winning mindset
'Beaten by a better team'
Tournament action: Fitter, faster England level the playing field
After long string of wins it was a bridge too far
Tournament star: David Campese - Campo's golden touch

- NZ Herald

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