Wednesday’s Rugby News sees Koroibete announced (!) as 2022 John Eales Medallist, One Hot Minute by Red Hot Quadie Cooper, Dave Rennie knocks back a Blues gig, Super W Fijiana Drua nearly go hungry and Yank & South African coaches cover themselves in glory in the MLR.
Breaking news! Koroibete announced as 2022 John Eales Medallist (and Australia wins 1983 America’s Cup!)
As the finale to the newish “drip feed the year after” [system/excitement factory] of Australian rugby awards, Marika Koroibete has been announced as the winner of his second John Eales Medal, becoming the sixth Wallaby to win the award on multiple occasions, having first taken it out in 2019 according to Pravda. In the poll voted on by Australia’s players after each test, Koroibete drew 202 votes to be a clear winner over back-rower Rob Valetini (170) and prop Allan Alaalatoa (168).
The winger’s memorable try-saver on Springboks flyer Makazole Mapimpi was one of the all-time great tackles and helped Koroibete to be named in the World Rugby’s Men’s 15s Dream Team of the Year. The 30 year old didn’t play on the Wallabies’ spring tour to Europe and the UK but had already accrued enough votes in the first nine Tests of the year to secure the medal.
He joins Queensland Red George Smith (2002, 2008), Queensland Red Nathan Sharpe (2007, 2012), not Queensland Red Michael Hooper (2013, 2016, 2020, 2021), another non-Queensland Red Israel Folau (2014, 2015, 2017) and Queensland-educated David Pocock (2010, 2018) as multiple winners of the award, which is named after a Queenslander.
Longer list of winners also from Pravda:
Super Rugby Player of the Year – unQueenslander Rob Valetini
Super W Player of the Year – Queensland Red Ivania Wong
Referee of the Year – Queenslander Nic Berry
Rookie of the Year – Simon Pegg’s mate non-Queenslander Nick Frost
Try of the Year – I’m not a Queenslander Lalakai Foketi v France
Women’s Sevens Player of the Year – Queenslander Charlotte Caslick
Men’s Sevens Player of the Year – Why am I not a Queenslander? Corey Toole
Wallaroos Player of the Year – Queensland-raised Georgina Friedrichs
Community Coach of the Year Award – Queenslander Mick Heenan
Award for Outstanding Contributions to Rugby – Queenslander Jeff Miller
Volunteer of the Year – I’d like to be a Queenslander Nicola Henderson
Quade Cooper makes 1 minute technical comeback to satisfy loophole
Rugbypass reports that Quade Cooper’s long-awaited comeback for Kintetsu ‘panty’ Liners proved tactical, and lasted for just one minute as the regular season of Japan Rugby League One was completed. In front of a surprised crowd, the Wallabies star left the field as soon as the first stoppage in play, straight after the kick-off at Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Osaka.
Kintetsu made the unusual move due to the competition rules, which state a player must feature in at least one game of the regular season to be eligible for the two-legged replacement battle. The Wallaby star, who was returning after rupturing his achilles tendon in August, was not hurt in contact and left the field unaided, with a quizzical look on his face.
Mrs Yowie has been previously quoted as saying that a one-minute performance is “Fine. Whatever.”.
Dave ain’t got the Blues
Rugbypass reports that former Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has reportedly turned down a potential return to New Zealand as Blues coach. Newshub reports that the Blues approached Rennie with a lucrative deal to takeover in 2024 from Leon Macdonald, who is expected to join Scott Robertson’s coaching staff at the Nearlies.
The two-time Super Rugby champion coach is weighing up a move to Japan instead to link with former Chiefs mentor Wayne Smith. Wayne Smith was an assistant under Rennie at the Chiefs but is now the Director of Rugby at Kobelco Kobe Steelers in Japan’s confusingly-titled “Rugby League One”. The Steelers have attracted players from New Zealand since Smith arrived, including relative unknowns Dan Carter, Ben Smith, Brodie Retallick, and Aaron Cruden in recent years.
Retallick is heading back to the club following the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, and Rennie could join as the club’s head coach.
The Blues are resigned to losing Leon MacDonald according to the report and are scrambling to find a quality replacement which led them to approach Rennie. Scott “Poochie” Robertson’s new All Black coaching staff will potentially drain New Zealand’s Super Rugby teams of coaches with Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland also believed to be in the mix along with Leon MacDonald.
Queenslanders’ innate generosity helps Drua women
Georgina Robinson of the SMH reports that defending Super W champions the Fijiana Drua were forced to rely on Brisbane families to feed them in the lead-up to a crunch game against the Reds last week, while a training centre in northern NSW is still chasing a six igure invoice for hosting the Drua men’s team in 2021 as financial troubles hit Fijian rugby.
The FRU on Monday admitted some cash flow “challenges” had affected its champion women’s team, thanking the Brisbane rugby community and Rugby Australia for stepping in to make sure the players were taken care of when a restaurant (presumably New South Welsh-owned) refused to continue to feed the team last week.
On the same day Fijian media reported the FRU was set to post a $900,000 loss for the 2022 financial year, it emerged that RA had to pay the catering bill at Brisbane Holiday Village on behalf of the Fijiana Drua, while the team relied on the generosity of the rugby and wider Fijian community to feed them in the three days leading up to their match in Brisbane.
The Herald can also reveal that the men’s Super Rugby team, the Drua, which operates as a separate entity and is owned by the Fiji Government and the FRU, has not yet paid off a six-figure accommodation bill from a NSW Government-owned sports and recreation centre at Lennox Head.
Drua chief executive Mark Evans would not comment on the matter when contacted by the Herald but two sources within the organisation confirmed the club had agreed a payment plan with the Lake Ainsworth Sport and Recreation Centre and was on track to have it paid off by the end of the Super Rugby Pacific season in June.
The women’s plight was brought to light on social media when a Brisbane woman put out a call for meals the night before the team’s crunch game against the Reds. The women lost 45-22 against the Reds on Sunday but have still qualified for the Super W semi-finals and will play competition leaders the Waratahs at Concord Oval on Sunday afternoon.
The Fijiana Drua are wholly operated by the FRU, an organisation hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In a report on the Fiji Village website, the governing body posted a $1.1 million reversal in its financial position from 2021, fuelled by an exodus of sponsorship revenue. Fiji Airways was its major partner, an airline grounded during the pandemic. The financial losses have pushed FRU member Suva Rugby Union to file a motion of no confidence against four of the FRU’s five directors ahead of Saturday’s annual general meeting.
MLR coaches race to the bottom
Rugby 365 reports that Major League Rugby will investigate a deplorable incident between a South African coach and his American rival at the weekend.
South African coach Gerhard Human, affectionately known as Pote (obviously), became involved in an altercation with a rival during the MLR Round 10 encounter between the Houston Sabercats and New York Ironworkers – won 34-27 by the SaberCats.
“It has been speculated” (weasel phrasing of the year so far) that Gerhard Human, who coaches Sabercats, was incensed by New York’s Head of High-Performance coach Ollie Richardson taunting Houston’s players during a water break.
The altercation instigated a massive brawl with both Human and Richardson being ejected from the game.