The 1996 Terrace First XV will be remembered for delivering a great, yet unexpected result for the season.
In winning the 1996 premiership, the team cemented its place in history, but will be remembered for its tenacity and ability to perform under pressure and against more fancied rivals.
On the eve of Terrace’s next home game against Toowoomba Grammar, Luke D’Alterio (fly-half, 1996) provided this valuable insight into the achievements of the 1996 premiership winning side and the consistency and dedication it took to succeed in that year’s competition.
B & G: So Luke, what position did you play in the 1996 1st XV?
Luke: I was a fly half. I used to get knocked
about a fair bit but I grew up playing that position. It was the only position that really suited me because I was too small to be a forward and I wasn’t fast enough to be an outside back.
B & G: And were you expecting to be selected?
Luke: No, I wasn’t expecting to be selected at all. I was pretty unfit and I hadn’t really done any weights or anything but it all panned out well for me in the end.
B & G: This Saturday Terrace plays Toowoomba. Do you remember playing Toowoomba
Luke: We played them in the second last game and we beat them pretty convincingly. I remember that the backline started running the ball really well that day. I mean, we knew how to score tries but in the previous games we had been concentrating on our defence. We had great forwards so we used to use them to do most of the attacking. We didn’t usually score a lot of points either and we scored 4 or 5 tries that game.
B & G: I see that most of the games were fairly close. Do you think that kept you on
Luke: Well we used to get flogged all the time in the younger grades, so when a game was close, we would give it everything we had to try and get a win. We used to get beaten by 40, 50 even 60 points fairly regularly when we younger and the other teams were always bigger than us.
B & G: Being easy-beats in previous years, how did other teams react when you turned the tables on them?
Luke: The captain of Grammar was my best mate from primary school and my best mate now was one of the better players at Nudgee,
so we all knew each other fairly well.
I remember we got taunted a lot during those games about how we couldn’t win so that made it pretty special when we did.
B & G: Did you score any memorable tries
Luke: I don’t remember scoring any special tries myself, but a highlight for me was setting up the match winning try right on fulltime against Grammar. We had a 5-metre scrum and the referee told us it was going to be the last play of the game. From the scrum I put Richard Clarke over to win it, which was sensational.
B & G: What was Luke Donald like as a captain?
Luke: He was awesome. He was such a great leader and we had so much respect for him. I think what was so good about him was that he was just so genuine.
B & G: And how was Mark McBain as a coach?
Luke: Both coaches were really good actually. They were both pretty hard though and got fired up at times. McBain used to be able to keep it together fairly well but I remember one incident in the change rooms at half time against Nudgee. He gave us a stirring speech and I can’t quote him because it was a bit brutal but it certainly fired us up and we won the game in the end.
B & G: Did you play any other sports at Terrace?
Luke: I played cricket in the 1st XI and basketball in the 2nd V. The cricket team had three wins that year I think.
B & G: And did you continue to play rugby when you left school?
Luke: Yes, I played a season or two for Brothers and when I went overseas and I played a bit of rugby in Canada.
B & G: So Luke, do you have a message for the 1st XV of 2006?
Luke: Just give it everything you’ve got and make your school proud.
Luke D’Alterio completed Grade 12 at Terrace in 1996.
He has a business degree from QUT and currently works in Byron Bay as a chef.