Wallabies captain wins third John Eales Medal as Australia’s best player


Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has created history by winning a third John Eales Medal four years after he was last crowned Australia’s best performed international player.

The 29-year-old, who won Australian rugby’s most prestigious award in 2013 and 2016, edged out winger, and last year’s winner, Marika Koroibete and prop James Slipper after a truncated international season in 2020.

Hooper, who was reappointed captain by new coach Dave Rennie, finished with 91 points in the player-led vote, ahead of Koroibete (88 points), Slipper (79), Nic White (61) and Reece Hodge (56) following six Tests of voting.

The Wallabies played four matches against New Zealand and two against Argentina in 2020 after South Africa withdrew from the Rugby Championship, winning one, losing two and drawing three.

Hooper featured in every one of Australia’s Tests as Rennie blooded 10 new players and joined controversial star Israel Folau as the only Wallabies to win a third John Eales Medal.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke said Hooper was an “incredible rugby player”.

“On behalf of the Australian rugby community, I would like to congratulate all of our winners throughout the Rugby Australia Awards series,” Clarke said.

“I’d especially like to congratulate our Wallabies captain, Michael Hooper, on winning the John Eales Medal for a third time.

“Michael is an incredible rugby player, an outstanding captain and an excellent leader on and off the field.

“The way he conducts himself is a credit to him and the values he lives his life by, and we congratulate him on his achievement.

“All our winners thoroughly deserve the accolades in what has been a challenging 2020.”

In recent days, Queensland Reds prop Taniela Tupou won the Super Rugby Player of the Year Award, Brumbies back-rower Ema Masi took out the Super W Player of the Year Award, while Reds young gun Harry Wilson claimed the Rookie of the Year Award.



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Hooper wins third John Eales Medal


Michael Hooper won a third John Eales Medal to finish the international season, in which he had his captaincy questioned, on a high.

The Wallabies skipper added to his 2013 and 2016 honours by claiming the player-voted MVP honour narrowly ahead of last year’s medallist Marika Koroibete.

The COVID-19 shortened Test calendar produced just one win and three draws from six Tests under new coach Dave Rennie, who had backed incumbent Hooper to continue in the role he held under Michael Cheika.

Hooper, who turned 29 in October, became the youngest player to notch 100 Test caps in the process.

But the flanker was forced to defend his tactics and leadership as consistency of performances again alluded the Wallabies.

His teammates showed their faith though, Hooper polling 91 votes to pip winger Koroibete (88) with veteran prop James Slipper (79), halfback Nic White (61) and utility back Reece Hodge (56) rounding out the top five.

Taniela Tupou won the Super Rugby AU player of the year while his Queensland and Wallabies teammate Harry Wilson claimed Rugby Australia’s rookie of the year as part of a week-long roll-out of awards.

“Michael is an incredible rugby player, an outstanding captain and an excellent leader on-and-off the field,” RA boss Rob Clarke said.

“The way he conducts himself is a credit to him and the values he lives his life by, and we congratulate him on his achievement.

“All our winners thoroughly deserve the accolades in what has been a challenging 2020.”

RUGBY AUSTRALIA AWARDS

* Women’s Sevens Player of the Year: Sharni Williams

* Men’s Sevens Player of the Year: Nick Malouf

* Super W Player of the year: Ema Masi

* Super Rugby AU Player of the Year: Taniela Tupou

* Referee of the Year: Amy Perrett

* Rookie of the year: Harry Wilson

* Spirit of Rugby Award: Garry Quinlivan

* John Eales Medal: Michael Hooper





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Hooper equals Folau with third John Eales Medal win


After being retained as Australian skipper under new coach Dave Rennie, Hooper featured in every one of Australia’s Tests this year and was his reliable self on both sides of the ball.

In 2017, Israel Folau became the first Wallaby to win a third John Eales medal, passing Hooper, Nathan Sharpe and George Smith who all had two to their name. David Pocock picked up a second gong in 2018.

Hooper now joins his former Waratahs and Wallabies teammate as the only other Australian to win the award three times.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke said: “On behalf of the Australian rugby community, I would like to congratulate all of our winners throughout the Rugby Australia Awards series.

“I’d especially like to congratulate our Wallabies captain, Michael Hooper, on winning the John Eales Medal for a third time.

“Michael is an incredible rugby player, an outstanding captain and an excellent leader on and off the field.

“The way he conducts himself is a credit to him and the values he lives his life by, and we congratulate him on his achievement.

“All our winners thoroughly deserve the accolades in what has been a challenging 2020.”

In recent days, Queensland Reds prop Taniela Tupou won the Super Rugby Player of the Year Award, Brumbies back-rower Ema Masi took out the Super W Player of the Year Award, while Reds young gun Harry Wilson claimed the Rookie of the Year Award.

2020 Rugby Australia Awards winners

Shawn Mackay Award – Women’s Sevens Player of the Year: Sharni Williams OAM
Shawn Mackay Award – Men’s Sevens Player of the Year: Nick Malouf
Buildcorp Super W Player of the year: Ema Masi
Vodafone Super Rugby AU Player of the Year: Taniela Tupou
Roger Vanderfield FedEx Referee of the Year: Amy Perrett
Rugby Australia Rookie of the Year: Harry Wilson
Nick Farr-Jones Spirit of Rugby Award: Garry Quinlivan
John Eales Medal: Michael Hooper

List of John Eales Medal winners

2002: George Smith

2003: Phil Waugh

2004: David Lyons



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Hooper equals Folau with third John Eales Medal win


After being retained as Australian skipper under new coach Dave Rennie, Hooper featured in every one of Australia’s Tests this year and was his reliable self on both sides of the ball.

In 2017, Israel Folau became the first Wallaby to win a third John Eales medal, passing Hooper, Nathan Sharpe and George Smith who all had two to their name. David Pocock picked up a second gong in 2018.

Hooper now joins his former Waratahs and Wallabies teammate as the only other Australian to win the award three times.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke said: “On behalf of the Australian rugby community, I would like to congratulate all of our winners throughout the Rugby Australia Awards series.

“I’d especially like to congratulate our Wallabies captain, Michael Hooper, on winning the John Eales Medal for a third time.

“Michael is an incredible rugby player, an outstanding captain and an excellent leader on and off the field.

“The way he conducts himself is a credit to him and the values he lives his life by, and we congratulate him on his achievement.

“All our winners thoroughly deserve the accolades in what has been a challenging 2020.”

In recent days, Queensland Reds prop Taniela Tupou won the Super Rugby Player of the Year Award, Brumbies back-rower Ema Masi took out the Super W Player of the Year Award, while Reds young gun Harry Wilson claimed the Rookie of the Year Award.

2020 Rugby Australia Awards winners

Shawn Mackay Award – Women’s Sevens Player of the Year: Sharni Williams OAM
Shawn Mackay Award – Men’s Sevens Player of the Year: Nick Malouf
Buildcorp Super W Player of the year: Ema Masi
Vodafone Super Rugby AU Player of the Year: Taniela Tupou
Roger Vanderfield FedEx Referee of the Year: Amy Perrett
Rugby Australia Rookie of the Year: Harry Wilson
Nick Farr-Jones Spirit of Rugby Award: Garry Quinlivan
John Eales Medal: Michael Hooper

List of John Eales Medal winners

2002: George Smith

2003: Phil Waugh

2004: David Lyons



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Hooper equals Folau with third John Eales Medal win


After being retained as Australian skipper under new coach Dave Rennie, Hooper featured in every one of Australia’s Tests this year and was his reliable self on both sides of the ball.

In 2017, Israel Folau became the first Wallaby to win a third John Eales medal, passing Hooper, Nathan Sharpe and George Smith who all had two to their name. David Pocock picked up a second gong in 2018.

Hooper now joins his former Waratahs and Wallabies teammate as the only other Australian to win the award three times.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke said: “On behalf of the Australian rugby community, I would like to congratulate all of our winners throughout the Rugby Australia Awards series.

“I’d especially like to congratulate our Wallabies captain, Michael Hooper, on winning the John Eales Medal for a third time.

“Michael is an incredible rugby player, an outstanding captain and an excellent leader on and off the field.

“The way he conducts himself is a credit to him and the values he lives his life by, and we congratulate him on his achievement.

“All our winners thoroughly deserve the accolades in what has been a challenging 2020.”

In recent days, Queensland Reds prop Taniela Tupou won the Super Rugby Player of the Year Award, Brumbies back-rower Ema Masi took out the Super W Player of the Year Award, while Reds young gun Harry Wilson claimed the Rookie of the Year Award.

2020 Rugby Australia Awards winners

Shawn Mackay Award – Women’s Sevens Player of the Year: Sharni Williams OAM
Shawn Mackay Award – Men’s Sevens Player of the Year: Nick Malouf
Buildcorp Super W Player of the year: Ema Masi
Vodafone Super Rugby AU Player of the Year: Taniela Tupou
Roger Vanderfield FedEx Referee of the Year: Amy Perrett
Rugby Australia Rookie of the Year: Harry Wilson
Nick Farr-Jones Spirit of Rugby Award: Garry Quinlivan
John Eales Medal: Michael Hooper

List of John Eales Medal winners

2002: George Smith

2003: Phil Waugh

2004: David Lyons



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Lolesio dreams of his John Eales moment


Noah Lolesio dreams of conjuring his own John Eales moment after being thrust into the Bledisloe Cup cauldron for his Wallabies debut on Saturday night.

As well as being in the five-eighth hot seat, the 20-year-old will handle goalkicking duties for Australia at ANZ Stadium following Matt Toomua’s year-ending groin injury injured suffered in the Wallabies’ 27-7 loss in Auckland two weeks ago.

Far from overawed about assuming such responsibilities, Lolesio says he’d relish the chance to boot Australia to victory, just like Eales did in the 85th minute of the Wallabies’ unforgettable 24-23 win over the All Blacks in Wellington 20 years ago.

“Oh yeah, it would awesome,” Lolesio told AAP.

“I’ve seen it. I don’t know if I was alive when it happened but I’ve definitely seen the footage.”

Eales’ trusty right boot, after taking the shot because regular kicker Stirling Mortlock was off the field, remains etched in Bledisloe Cup folklore.

“They’re the moments you train for,” Eales said.

“They’re the moments in the backyard as a kid … I kicked a hundred of those in the backyard trying to win a Test for Australia.

“And I’m very glad it went over because people’s memories of me as a rugby player would have been very different if I had have missed that kick.”

While Eales’ successful penalty secured Australia the 2020 Bledisloe Cup series, New Zealand has held the trophy for the past 17 years.

Lolesio, though, is one of several fresh faces in coach Dave Rennie’s Wallabies line-up not carrying any psychological scarring from more than a decade and a half of trans-Tasman beatings.

“It’s something that definitely drives me. I really want that Cup back here and I know everyone in this squad wants that cup as well,” he said.

“It’s definitely a driving factor.

“It’s very exciting long term to be part of this squad but, at the end of the day, we want to win now.

“Dave’s made it very clear that we win want to win this Bledisloe and there’s no better way to do it than on home soil.

“That’s in the forefront of our minds and we can worry about the future after that.”





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John Howard, John Eales appointed to Rugby World Cup bid advisory board


Australia is the only southern hemisphere nation to bid to host the 2027 World Cup and stands an excellent chance of winning given the three prior World Cups will have been held in the north (United Kingdom 2015, Japan 2019, France 2023).

However, RA was confident of winning hosting rights to the 2021 Women’s World Cup before New Zealand pipped them at the post.

The advisory board will be chaired by Australian businessman Sir Rod Eddington and also includes Fortescue Metals Group chief executive Elizabeth Gaines and Qantas Loyalty chief executive Olivia Wirth.

In a statement, McLennan said: “The 2027 Rugby World Cup is an incredible opportunity for rugby and for our country and we have signalled our intentions clearly by bringing together some of the greatest minds in rugby, politics, business and the tourism sector to deliver a winning bid for Australia.

“As I announced after I first agreed to become chairman of the board, the 2027 Rugby World Cup bid was one of my top priorities and today we have taken a giant step towards laying the foundations for a successful bid.

“I’m delighted that Sir Rod Eddington has agreed to chair this very important advisory board on behalf of our 2027 Rugby World Cup bid team. I have known Rod for 25 years and he is one of Australia’s leading businessmen and a doyen of the tourism industry, who will lead this group of prominent Australians superbly.”

Sir Rod Eddington helped steer British Airways through the crisis that rocked the aviation industry after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Sir Rod Eddington helped steer British Airways through the crisis that rocked the aviation industry after the September 11 attacks in 2001.Credit:Justin McManus

Meanwhile, a global rugby calendar in the near future remains a possibility, with World Rugby saying dialogue will continue between major stakeholders after meetings overnight.

Representatives from the northern and southern hemispheres – interim RA chief executive Rob Clarke was Australia’s representative – held talks on Monday evening to discuss how to best align the rugby calendar from next year onwards.

While it appears progress was made, there were sticking points that still need to be ironed out.

Changes to the 2020 calendar, which have been significantly altered due to COVID-19, will be voted on by the World Rugby Council on June 30.

A two-month Test window between the northern and southern hemispheres in October and November has been put forward from next year.

“World Rugby welcomes commitment between the game’s major stakeholders for further dialogue regarding potential adjustments to the global international calendar,” a World Rugby statement said.

“Whilst not a decision-making forum, today’s World Rugby Professional Game Forum provided the platform for national unions, international and professional club competitions and players to exchange frank views and consider immediate and long-term calendar reform in line with the guiding core principles of recognising the needs of the international and domestic game and enhancing player welfare.

“With the global COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacting the 2020 rugby calendar and union and club finances, all parties recognise the need to agree a compromise solution that enables both disrupted professional club and international competitions to be completed this year.

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“All stakeholders believe that meaningful reform of the international calendar is necessary in a much-changed post COVID-19 environment to revitalise the global game and deliver much-needed alignment between international and club rugby with fewer overlaps and enhanced player rest periods.

“Crucially, if managed appropriately, the proposed long-term calendar reform will enable meaningful pathways for emerging nations on a global and regional scale and the development of a global international women’s competition model with defined windows that do not overlap with the men’s competitions.”

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