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Israel Folau

Israel Folau

Israel Folau becomes the 1st Australian player to win consecutive John Eales Medals.

The Wallabies and Waratahs fullback Israel Folau has claimed the 2015 John Eales Medal, winning the award for a 2nd consecutive year.

In just his 3rd year in Rugby Union’s top flight, Folau’s meteoric rise has continued as he becomes just the 3rd player in the 14-year history of the John Eales Medal to collect the major award for a 2nd time, joining George Smith (2002, 2008) and Nathan Sharpe (2007, 2012).

At a packed gala dinner at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) celebrated and acknowledged the players, coaches, fans, match officials and administrators for their dedication, committment and outstanding performance.

Folau picked up 138 votes in total to edge out resurgent flanker David Pocock (113), Wallabies Vice-Captains Michael Hooper (108), Adam Ashley-Cooper (98), and Ben McCalman (95) to become the 1st ever back-to-back winner.

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Mourad Boudjellal & Quade Cooper

Mourad Boudjellal & Quade Cooper

The latest instalment in the Quade Cooper transfer saga has been an exchange of words between the Toulon boss and the Australian coach.

Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal launched a relatively tasteless tirade against the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and its prized asset Quade Cooper, whom he threatened would end up as “the 2nd most indebted State after Greece”.

The eccentric Frenchman said that the 150 000 Euros that has been mooted as Cooper’s buyout of his contract was in fact for the promise of a contract – Boudjellal claims that Cooper has actually put pen to paper, which would make that void and has allegedly threatened legal action if Cooper does not show up for his medical soon.

Boudjellal told Midi Olympique: “The moron of the Australian federation who does not understand the case needs to know that the promise of employment is no longer the question.”

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight

Wallabies wing Henry Speight will join Australia’s Sevens programme as part of a new 3-year deal announced by the Australian Rugby Union on Thursday.

Speight’s new contract with the ARU will see him remain with the Brumbies through to the end of 2018 and join the Australian Sevens programme in 2016.

The landmark deal means Speight will be available for the inaugural Sydney Sevens at Allianz Stadium in February next year.

As part of the agreement between the ARU and the Brumbies, Speight will combine his duties with the national Sevens program and his Super Rugby team throughout 2016.

As well as the Sydney Sevens on the weekend on 6 – 7 February, Speight will be available for selection for the Hong Kong and London legs of the 2015 / 2016 World Rugby Sevens Series and – pending qualification – the Rio 2016 Olympics.

At the conclusion of the Rio Olympics in August 2016, Speight will be available for the Wallabies for the remainder of The Rugby Championship before returning full-time with the Brumbies for the 2017 and 2018 Super Rugby seasons.

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Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper

Reports suggest that Wallaby star Quade Cooper has pulled out of a big-money move to France.

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) is set to confirm the Wallabies playmaker has signed a 4-year deal to remain in the country, opting out of his lucrative contract with glamour French club Toulon, Fairfax Media reported.

The media outlet said an announcement was expected to be made on Monday, confirming Cooper’s re-signing with the ARU, after his Reds team severed ties with him last month amid acrimonious contractual negotiations.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika gave nothing away to reporters on Sunday following his team’s last-gasp 24 / 20 win over South Africa in The Rugby Championship opener in Brisbane the previous night.

But Cheika has reportedly been a significant figure in the ARU’s talks with Cooper and his management and has repeatedly underlined the importance of keeping the skilful flyhalf in Australia.

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Melbourne RebelsImperium GroupThe Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and Victoria Rugby Union confirmed they have entered into an exclusive Heads of Agreement with Imperium Group, a Melbourne-based investment company, to acquire all shares in the Melbourne Rebels Rugby Union Limited, the company that controls the Melbourne Rebels.

“We’ve been discussing the sale of the Melbourne Rebels to ICG in recent months and we’re pleased to have reached agreement on the key terms of the deal,” ARU CEO Bill Pulver said.

“We are now progressing legal documentation and detailed due diligence is underway to finalise the transaction.

“We expect a formal transfer of the company will be completed by 30 June 2015.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

Di Patston

Di Patston

A compensation claim against the Australian Rugby Union by a woman at the centre of the Kurtley Beale texting affair has been settled out of court, it was announced on Tuesday.

Former Wallabies business manager Di Patston was on the receiving end of an offensive text message sent by Beale during a team tour last year, an affair that proved hugely damaging to Australian rugby.

It sparked a heated argument on a flight from South Africa to Argentina, which ultimately led to a number of issues within the Wallabies quickly unravelling.

Coach Ewen McKenzie abruptly quit after speculation over internal dissent and his relationship with Patston, while she also resigned, citing stress. She later said the controversy had driven her to contemplate suicide.

The saga also put the spotlight on the ARU’s management of the scandal.

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Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper

The Reds believe the Australian Rugby Union’s revised contracting system could convince star playmaker Quade Cooper to remain in Brisbane.

Cooper’s future remains a hot topic of conversation, following the announcement by Toulon than the 53-Test veteran had signed a 2-year contract with the French club.

Cooper, the Reds and the ARU vehemently denied his departure is a done deal – accusing the Top 14 club of jumping the gun.

It is now reported that Cooper has been offered a 4-year flexible contract by the ARU, which will allow him to play in Japan during the off-season and return for Super Rugby to remain eligible for the Wallabies.

Reds coach Richard Graham, addressing a media scrum in Brisbane on Monday, said they remain optimistic that Cooper will not take up the Toulon offer.

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Rob Simmons

Rob Simmons

James Slipper

James Slipper

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has locked away 2 key members of the Wallabies’ forward pack – re-signing the experienced Reds duo James Slipper and Rob Simmons.

The signatures of the 2 talented tight forwards are significant for the future of Australia.

Slipper agreed to a new 3-year deal, through until the end of 2018, while Simmons has also inked a multi-year extension – through until the end of 2017.

Despite his young age of just 25, Slipper and Simmons, 27, have already accumulated a combined 113 Tests between them for Australia.

Both also hold leadership positions at either the Wallabies or Reds.

Slipper and Simmons, who were announced earlier this year as the captain and vice-captain of the Reds, grew up playing together on the Gold Coast at the Southport School.

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Dave Dennis

Dave Dennis

Waratahs captain Dave Dennis has signed a new contract with the ARU keeping him in Australia for at least 2 more years.

The 31-year-old who can play in both the 2nd row and the back row, has signed up through to 2017 as he looks to help the Waratahs retain their Super Rugby title.

Injury kept him out of the knockout stages of last year’s win, but Dennis has been in good form so far this season.

The fact he is staying will be a welcome boost for Daryl Gibson, who will replace Michael Cheika as Waratahs boss at the end of the season.

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Michael Hawker

Michael Hawker

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has announced a AUS $ 6.3-million loss for 2014.

Releasing its annual report for last year on Monday the ARU said it had achieved an underlying business surplus of AUS $ 700 000.00 but an overall deficit.

This, “in a year that focused on driving a sustainable future for the game, through direct grants to member unions and the delivery of national programs.”

The ARU said it would now seek feedback from rugby fans and stakeholders to “drive its next 5 year strategy and future investment at all levels of the game”.

ARU chairman Michael Hawker said the process to collate feedback is already underway, with CEOs of member unions and Super Rugby clubs taking part in a strategy workshop.

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Bernard Foley

Bernard Foley

Waratahs Super Rugby-winning flyhalf Bernard Foley has signed a 3-year contract extension with the Australian Rugby Union.

The new agreement locks away the 25-year-old incumbent Wallaby flyhalf until at least the end of 2018 and ensures he will be eligible for Wallabies and Waratahs selection in each year of the deal. As part of the flexible contract, Foley will also be entitled to spend 2 seasons playing rugby in the Japanese domestic competition.

Foley said he was thrilled to have finalised a long-term agreement with Australian Rugby.

“I have an incredibly strong desire to continue representing Australia and the Waratahs, and this deal allows me to do that for at least another 3 years,” Foley said.

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Jacques Potgieter

Jacques Potgieter

The Australian Rugby Union fined Waratahs player Jacques Potgieter $ 20 000.00 (with $ 10 000.00 suspended), following an incident during Sunday afternoon’s match against the Brumbies.

Potgieter admitted making comments contrary to the Australian Rugby Union’s Inclusion Policy.

He will also be required to undergo additional educational and awareness training.

The sanction was determined following an investigation by the ARU’s Integrity Unit, after the matter was referred to the ARU by SANZAR late Monday afternoon.

The incident follows the endorsement of an ARU Inclusion Policy in August 2014, which is designed to stamp out all forms of discrimination and homophobia in Rugby.

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Di Patston

Di Patston

The Australian Rugby Union and former employee Di Patston looks set for another round of ‘airing dirty laundry in public’.

Media reports in Australia revealed the highly-publicised Kurtley Beale sage – which resulted in an emotional Patston returning home prematurely from the Wallaby tour of Argentina and later resigning her position – could result in a protracted legal battle.

The ARU are expected to fight a discrimination claim brought by the former Wallaby business manager, Patston, but – according to the reports – it will result in a protracted and potentially embarrassing pubic hearing for the ARU.

Patston has engaged a well-known personal injury law firm on the New South Wales north coast to act on her behalf in a claim of ‘adverse action’ under the Fair Work Act over her employment and subsequent resignation from the ARU last October.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale, one of the most controversial figures in Australia, ended months of speculation about his future by signing a one-year extension to his Wallaby and Waratah contracts.

The 26-year-old Beale, who has played 49 tests, was fined AU$40,000 for sending a offensive text message team business manager Di Patston in June, and escaped having his contract terminated because there wasn’t enough evidence he sent a second, more lewd message.

The text message scandal blew up on a flight from South Africa to Argentina during the Rugby Championship when Beale and Patston argued of the player’s inappropriate dress code.

Beale was suspended, and Patston returned to Australia and quit.

The fallout included coach Ewen McKenzie, who quit in October just days before the Wallabies left for a five-match European tour which Beale later joined.

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Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper

Wallaby captain Michael Hooper has allegedly been involved in an incident with a friend whist at the New South Wales coastal Town of Byron Bay, where the police were called out, and Hooper’s friend charged.

The latest incident is just another in a long list involving Wallaby players that is perhaps indicative of the deep rooted problems facing the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) in terms of player discipline off the field.

The ARU seem either uncapable, or unwilling to take the matters to heart and sort the issue (with their top players) out. A fact which must surely have an influence on Rugby Union’s endeavours to have the sport taken more seriously in a country where the sport lags far behing Aussie Rules, and Rugby League in terms of spectator support, and is battling to keep up with or ahead of Association Football (soccer) for bums on seats on a weekly basis.

Australia’s Nine Network

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David Pocock

David Pocock

The Australian Rugby Union has issued a formal written warning to David Pocock following his arrest on Sunday.

In a statement published on Monday afternoon, the ARU said, “While we appreciate David has personal views on a range of matters, we’ve made it clear that we expect his priority to be ensuring he can fulfil his role as a high-performance athlete.

“The matter is now subject to legal proceedings and we will now let the legal process take its course.”

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Waratahs coach Michael Cheika, offered to coach the Wallabies

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika confirmed on Monday he has been offered the Wallabies coaching job left vacant by the resignation of Ewen McKenzie, saying it was “humbling”.

A smiling Cheika, dressed in a Waratahs tracksuit top and black jeans, confirmed the offer when he spoke to the media out the front of Waratahs headquarters at Moore Park. “It’s a pretty humbling experience to be asked to be involved in something like that, but we’ll see what happens,” Cheika said.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has said on Sunday Kurtley Beale should not be sacked and has called for a squad honesty session to dispel talk of team disunity under coach Ewen McKenzie.

Hooper insisted the “team is tight” and backed the besieged McKenzie, who has become embroiled in the fallout of Beale’s messy spat with former team business manager Di Patston.

Beale was suspended from last week’s Argentina game in Mendoza over a mid-flight argument with Patston, and was later barred from selection indefinitely after the emergence of “deeply offensive text messages” about Patston.

The Australian Rugby Union said Patston had resigned from her position late on Friday, citing stress relating to the recent events.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale in MORE Trouble

Troubled Wallaby Kurtley Beale faces new allegations of having breached the players’ code of conduct.

It is almost certain the latest revelations will result in Beale not being offered a new contract by the Australian Rugby Union.

It was revealed by ARU the  that a new disciplinary allegation involving the utility back, Beale, will be referred to a tribunal.

Beale was dropped for the last Rugby Championship Test against Argentina last Saturday, after an ugly in-flight public spat with members of the team management.

ARU Chief Executive Bill Pulver said Thursday that while investigating the incident, during the flight from Johannesburg to Sao Paulo, officials were made aware of another matter involving Beale and text messages he sent in June.

The ARU said Beale will not be considered for Australian selection until the tribunal concludes.

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Scott Fardy  Michael Hooper

Scott Fardy conforts Michael Hooper following the loss

Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver recently called for a rotation of Rugby Championship games because he believed playing the All Blacks twice at the start of the tournament had killed off local interest.

After the Wallabies deflated in the final ten minutes in Cape Town, Pulver’s latest brainwave could be pleading to SANZAR that Australia does not play any important Rugby Championship matches away from home, and that the Springboks are barred from using their reserves bench.

These are kooky times, and as the frazzled ARU brain’s trust has made it quite clear, the Wallabies need every bit of help they can get.

Still it is all too late to stop the Mandela Plate, like the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship silverware from remaining for another year thousands of kilometres away from the ARU’s bare trophy cabinet.

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Bill PulverAustralian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver has revealed that Super Rugby in Australia will lose money in 2014, but they are putting together plans to address the problem.

The 2014 Super Rugby season starts later this week and Pulver has revealed that the tournament will run at a loss this year.

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Super RugbySANZAR are hoping to finalise their plans for the restructuring of Super Rugby early in the new year, with local derbies shaping up as a bone of contention.

With the current broadcast deal expiring at the end of next season, speculation is rife about the form that Super Rugby will take in 2016 and beyond.

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AustraliaAustralia’s top rugby players have accepted a 23 percent cut in their test match fee from A$13 100 ($12 700) per game to A$10 000 over the next four years, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) said on Wednesday.

The ARU, whose coffers were only partially replenished by this year’s British and Irish Lions tour, have engaged in a raft of cost-cutting measures since new chief executive Bill Pulver took over earlier this year.

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James O'ConnorAustraliaThe Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has reached a mutual agreement to grant James O’Connor an early release from his national contract for 2013 and will not offer him a national contract for 2014.

The decision to grant O’Connor an early release from his national contract follows an ARU integrity investigation into an alleged incident at Perth Airport involving the 23-year-old in the early hours of Sunday, September 15.

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Israel FolauExciting outside back Israel Folau has rebuffed a return to the National Rugby League by signing a two-year deal with the Australian Rugby Union.

The ARU said Thursday that Folau, 24, had committed to the code after a stellar first season with the Waratahs that led to his outstanding Test debut for the Wallabies against the British and Irish Lions.

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MoneyThe Wallabies may have lost the series but Australia did very well financially out of the recent rugby tour by the British and Irish Lions, a tourism industry body said Friday.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the five-week tour generated an estimated Aus$150 million ($134 million) for the economy.

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Super RugbySome thoughts for you to chew on…

I was asked yesterday by someone at Sky what my feeling was on the future of SuperRugby and I said, all three Unions of SANZAR have recently released their year end figures and none of them made any real profit. They are all close to borderline break even.

The current number Super Rugby matches per annum is 125, so any reduction of matches would no doubt mean a reduction in broadcast money.

The talk is about South Africa splitting from SANZAR in terms of Super Rugby only. However the South African time zone goes a long way to pushing up the money that is earned from the broadcast deal.

If SA leave, more matches will be played in New Zealand and Australian time zones (according to the reports). This has no global appeal.

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Australian Rugby Union has ushered in historic Constitutional changes at a General Meeting in Sydney today.

Members voted to adopt a new Governance model following recommendations from the Strengthening the Governance of Australian Rugby (the Arbib Review), which was released in October this year.

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