City Run Rampant Over Country

Wests Ski=Fleet Stadium
City v Country at Wests Sci-Fleet Stadium, Photo courtesy of GTR.

The morning rain did not dampen the spirits of Brisbane’s rugby faithful, with a healthy 3,000+ braving the cool spring conditions for the latest instalment of the Quade Cooper/Karmichael Hunt double act. Wests’ impressive Sci-Fleet Stadium hosted the  Round 5 Brisbane City/Queensland Country clash for the Andy Purcell Cup, once again attracting rain and a healthy blend of rugby diehards and novices. Not all were there for Cooper’s kick off to highly-fancied, reigning Premiers, Bond University Queensland Country. As rugby people tend to do, rocking up in the first 10 minutes is normal, so by the time Hamish Stewart crossed the chalk to open the account for Country in the 18th minute, a boisterous crowd split roughly 50/50 were assembled. The beers and cheers were still flowing two minutes later when the Cooper/Hunt show produced their first act to set up their captain, Adam Korczyk for a try. Cooper missed the conversion leaving the score 7-5 to Country, setting up the afternoon for a see-sawing affair.

Brisbane City got the jump on their more fancied rivals to go to the break up 22-12, however, it wasn’t long into the 2nd half before Tom Lucas crossed for Queensland Country to narrow the margin. By the 52nd minute, it was 29-24 to City after Country’s halfback, Tate McDermott received a Hamish Stewart purler to cross the chalk, keeping Country in touch, however, Cooper had his kicking boots on and opted for a long-range penalty to extend their lead. Replacement hooker Sean Farrell sealed City’s fourth Andy Purcell Cup in five outings going over after a maul and with Cooper’s conversion saw Brisbane City win 39-24 over last year’s premiers, Queensland Country.

Match highlights

The match can be best summed up by the words of City coach Mick Heenan,

“Country is such a good side and we’ve got a lot of respect for how they’ve been playing and their players as well, so certainly that’s the best we’ve played and defended all season.

“The spirit and the fight that we showed was outstanding. We needed to win to keep our season alive and we’ve got to keep winning and we can’t take anything for granted, so we have to keep at it, keep persisting and keep fighting,” Heenan added.

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Don’t Cry For Me Argentina

Last weekend I was reminded of the #RWC2007 in France where the Argentines defeated France twice to claim 3rd overall in that tournament. To defeat a nation on their home soil is a really difficult assignment and Los Pumas have not achieved this in Australia since 1983, some 35 years ago. At Cbus Stadium on the Gold Coast, 16,009 people witnessed a truly historic occasion on the fast paddock in the outer suburb of Robina.

Highlights of Wallabies v Los Pumas

The Wallaby coaching staff must be ruing another missed opportunity to put some home ground results on the board ahead of six overseas matches after a long period of losses on Australian soil starting with the first white-wash by England with Eddie Jones’ side winning 3-0 in 2016, straight after a successful Wallabies showing at #RWC2015. Losing a series to Scotland in 2017 and the first series loss to Ireland this year, 2-1, since 1979. The Wallaby fortunes of nine losses have seen their world ranking drop to 7th, which hasn’t occurred since the early 1970s.

Chieka & Larkham
Wallaby coaching staff Steven Larkham and Michael Chieka. Photo courtesy of AFP

The analogies with #RWC2007 where the English knocked off the Wallabies in mystifying circumstances with messers Gregan and Larkham seeming like they had the match under control and simply ran out of time were reflected by the Wallabies on Saturday night. A few hours later, on the same night in 2007, the French beat the All Blacks in their quarterfinal in Cardiff; once again, like last Saturday night when the Springboks beat the form ABs.

Highlights of South Africa defeating the ABs

The big difference for the Kiwis was they had a packed stadium in Wellington and lead 12-nil early, the Wallabies had 16,009 at Cbus Stadium on the Gold Coast and were behind from the outset. All of New Zealand was glued to television sets from Auckland to Bluff and on the Gold Coast at the Grand Hotel in Labrador, there was a stunned silence when Beaudan Barritt missed the conversion to tie the match 36-all. A bit like trying to have a conversation with a Kiwi in the last 10 minutes of #RWC2011, where they French should have won. By contrast, most of Australia was watching the AFL or NRL finals series.

The problem with Australian rugby is we are not attracting enough interest in the game. Super Rugby is on the nose with our teams getting thrashed by the Kiwi franchises and the Wallabies being hammered by the All Blacks in the first two Bledisloe Cup matches; we do have a chance to address that for Bledisloe III in Yokohama, a prelude to the #RWC2019 final there on next year on November 2nd. What Rugby Australia should be doing is getting Andrew Forrest more involved in providing a solution, as I have mentioned before:

Bankwest-backs-the-Force
Twiggy Forrest with Bankwest Managing Director Rowan Munchenberg and Captain Ian Prior. Photo courtesy of Western Force

Rugby Australia needs Twiggy

As Topo Rodrigeuz said in his article, “Mental Toughness’? This is what they refer to! Do Not Retaliate, Do Not throw silly or clever punches or Do Not spit on anyone on the playing field!!! You play to WIN, and the only reflection of it is the scoreboard…”

CJ & Topo, lunch
CJ with Dr Scrum at Le Sands Restaurant

Topo’s article in LinkedIn

But for the Wallabies to have any chance of dreaming about back to back World Cup final appearances, there has to be a lot of navel-gazing done. Cheika had a good run taking over from McKenzie in 2014, winning the Super Rugby final with the Waratahs then taking the Wallabies to the RWC2015 final. Just as his teammate from Randwick, Eddie Jones, enjoyed a honeymoon period, the sad reality is HIS TIME IS UP!!!

Discuss.

クアード・クーパーはどこにも行かない

Quade_Cooper_2014
クアード・クーパー

その日、ウローウィンのシャウ通りには四千人を超える人々が集まった。クィーンズランドラグビーユニオンと豪ラグビーユニオンの双方から十分に報酬を得ながらもブリスベンのプレミアコンペティションの地元ラグビーパークに隠れていた魔術師を見るためだ。今冬季はチプシーウッドのレギュラーメンバーとして数えきれない人に真のエンターテイメントを提供してきている人物だ。筆者は彼のその実力をタダで(ビール代はかかるが)見ていることに罪悪感すら覚えるほどだ。

多くの人がトップレベルでプレーする彼を待っている。彼はレベルが高いところに行く程に良いプレーをすることはすでに先週の日曜に証明されているのだ。ブリスベン市の五つのトライのうち(一つは彼自身で)四つはクーパーのオフロードからだった。62分でのチームメイトのジェイデン・ガマヌには特に。ブリスベン市は47対29でティム・サムソン率いるウエスタンフォースに惜しくも負けてしまったが、レッズの選手であふれている彼らもコンビネーションを調節すれば勝利するだろう。

JP on the charge

今週にかけてクアード・クーパーの今後には多くの憶測があった。例えばティム・ホーランの話ではサンウォルブスがクーパーの獲得に前向きであり、さらには豪ラグビーユニオンがクィーンズランドラグビーユニオンとレベルズとクーパーのマネージャのコーダー・ナッサーとの間での話の詳細も公表した。

月曜の朝、ナッサーは私に言った。彼はニュージーランドから始まり、世界中のどこからのオファーも視野に入れていたと。さらにナッサーは豪ラグビーユニオンと財産灘のクィーンズランドラグビーユニオンが選手開発の費用捻出のために最低でも80万ドルオフを希望していたとも語ってくれた。しかしクアードは揺るがない。むしろ大観客を率いれて来シーズンもチプシーウッドで走り回ることに満足している。それは長い目で見れば決してお金の無駄遣いではない。

これからの数週間の間にクーパーがどんな決断をしたとしても彼は支えられるべきであり、この気まぐれな天才は彼のプレイする場所ならどこへでも観衆を連れてくるだろう、シャウ通りから札幌までにでも。

Translated from original article “Quade Cooper Isn’t Going Anywhere”, published September 7th, 2018, by Reina Delos Santos (Brisbanerugby staff translator)

Quade Cooper Isn’t Going Anywhere

Quade_Cooper_2014Out at Shaw Road, Wooloowin over 4,000 people had gathered to watch a magician that has been hiding at local rugby parks in Brisbane’s Premier competition and being paid handsomely for it by Rugby Australia and the QRU. As a regular at Souths’ Chipsy Wood this winter, where bumper crowds have enjoyed the pure entertainment this entertainer provides, I felt almost guilty seeing his talent for gratis (or a couple tinnies from the can bar).

There are many people out there that want to see him playing at the top level again, and as last Sunday proved the higher level he plays the better he plays. Four of Brisbane City’s five tries (he scored one himself) came from a Cooper offload, none more so than to South’s teammate Jayden Ngamanu in the 62nd minute. Although the City team was beaten 47-29 by a well drilled Western Force side, under Tim Samson, they are studded with Reds players and when they work out their combinations they will get some wins on the board.

All the tries for #BNEVFOR RD #1 NRC

A lot of speculation on Quade Cooper’s future has been thrown around this week, such as Tim Horan suggesting the Sunwolves might be interested and Rugby Australia releasing details of discussions between the QRU, Rebels and Cooper’s manager, Khoder Nasser.

Nasser told me on Monday morning that he was looking at all offers on the table from New Zealand to the world. He said that Rugby Australia and the cash-strapped QRU want his player fee of $800,000+ off their books to free up more cash for developing players. Quade is not budging, quite content to run around for another season at Chipsy Wood and draw the crowds to Brisbane club rugby, which is not a total waste of money in the grand scheme of things.

Whatever decision Cooper makes over the next few weeks, he should be supported and the mercurial genius will draw the crowds to whatever paddock he’s playing on from Shaw Road to Sapporo…

Play rugby and See the World

CJ & Peter Grant
CJ & Peter Grant at Courtney Oval

At a suburban rugby ground in Brisbane’s north on Sunday, I met former Springbok five-eighth Peter Grant, still running around a rugby paddock at 34. We talked about rugby and the opportunities it provides for you more so than any other sport. The camaraderie that it instils is second to none and the greatest event of the 20th Century was how the 1995 World Cup in South Africa united the Rainbow Nation under Nelson Mandela.

I told him I have friends in Japan well into their 50s that regularly play rugby on the weekend, that’s when he replied that he played four seasons for Kobe Steel. The conversation ensued on how rugby provides an opportunity to travel the globe playing a game you love. Born in Durban to farm owners, Grant, grew up dreaming of playing for the Natal Sharks. When he matriculated from Maritzburg College his father told him he would never make money from rugby so he did business at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape province of South Africa. His skills on the rugby pitch were not overlooked and the Super Rugby franchise the Stormers picked him up, eventually playing 104 games for them. He also went on to play 5 test matches for the Springboks, at a time when they had some of the best No. 10s playing the game.

From 2010 to 2014 he played the offseason with the Kobelco Steelers, one of the most successful company clubs in Japan, winning the inaugural Top League in 2003/4. Currently, Dan Carter is the Steelers five-eighth. After Kobe, Grant played a season, 2014/15, with La Rochelle in the French Top 14 before joining the Western Force for the 2016 season. He has settled in Perth with relatives galore and has established his own family. Grant told me that Andrew Forrest is a great man with deep pockets that wants to see rugby succeed in a country dominated by AFL and NRL. The exciting part is that Asia is the future for rugby expansion and Twiggy Forrest with his World Series Rugby will be part of the future when Super Rugby dies and comes begging for a solution. As for Peter Grant, he just wants to get a bit of land in Western Australia and get back to his roots and run a farm. A true gentleman of rugby.