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Rugby News: Teen star compared to Cullen who can 'change face of English game', Hoops hopes RWC can help stop exodus

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Wallaroos captain Shannon Parry expects more money for female players while Wallabies counterpart Michael Hooper is hoping the World Cup windfall will help Rugby Australia stem the exodus of overseas stars.

Australia was confirmed as host of the 2027 men’s and 2029 women’s World Cups after a vote on Thursday night in Dublin and RA chief Andy Marinos estimates the two tournaments will generate a windfall of between $50 and $60 million for the cash-strapped governing body.

As well as putting RA back in the black after years fighting financial peril, Parry says the cash influx will offer major benefits for Australian women’s stars, who lag behind the men on the pay front.

“It definitely will and I think with the announcement of the 2029 World Cup at home we will see those resources and that funding support of the women’s programs,” Parry said.

“What that looks like now, I’m not sure.


“But there’s no doubt there’s conversations in the background at Rugby Australia to financially support the players and the staff so that we can bring home that 2029 World Cup, something Australia has never been able to do.”

Australia will host a women’s World Cup for the first time and Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper agrees his female counterparts should fight for a better deal.

“For professional sport, the more money that we can get everyone obviously it would be great,” he said.

“How it looks, I don’t know. How the nuts and the bolts work, that’s for Rugby Australia and World Rugby to organise.


“But everyone wants to see everyone doing well and enjoying the game they love to play and getting paid well to do it.”

Hooper is confident that more money for RA will also slow the exodus of Test players to cashed-up overseas clubs and keep local talent in Australia to chase World Cup glory, as well as feature in the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour.

Michael Hooper (R) and Shannon Parry (L) pose for a photo in front of The Sydney Harbour Bridge, lit in support of Rugby Australia's 2027 & 2029 Rugby World Cup Bids, on May 12, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

Michael Hooper (R) and Shannon Parry (L) pose for a photo in front of The Sydney Harbour Bridge. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

“This has a knock-on effect,” Hooper said.


“Not only the want to play is something that is intangible. There’s that level. Then with the financial boost it gives, you’re able to marry that up so you’ve got extra reasons to stay.

“So it’s an awesome time to be a young player. If you’re like in that 16-years-old slot, you’re right in the hitting zone there.”

Ultimately, Hooper believes Australia hosting World Cups two years apart will also attract more juniors to the code.

“It’s an opportunity to set it up and have some real longevity in the game,” he said.


“With the Lions, we know that’s going to be massive. Then the World Cup, then the women’s World Cup so you start to create a runway.

“Not only for this 10 years but then further for hopefully my little boys if  they want to play the game and if there’s an opportunity there to play at a professional level.

“It’s such a great sport at so many levels but the ability to play for a living, how good would that be?

“That’s literally what this has the opportunity to do and to bring the enjoyment and bring fans back to loving the game because it’s a unique game and a brilliant game.”


Hooper meanwhile has been playing down is chances of featuring at the World Cup as a 35-year-old.

“I will be in the stands with a beer in hand. Very much so,” he said.

“How good will that be, to be a part of rugby and to experience it on the other side of the fence.

“I’d hope there’s a seven that’s pushing me well out of it by that point.”

Hoooper said international rugby was a tough physical battle.

“You never say never and that’s what a lot of athletes say,” Hooper said.

“But I’ve got this 18-month period and the Tuesdays get harder and harder and it’s like how much you are willing to take for the rewards, which is we get to do what you love.

“You get to run out in front of your crowd, you get to schools (to promote the game) and there’s kids genuinely pumped and you put a smile on people’s faces.

“That’s something that makes you feel awesome.

“But, in saying that, it’s a slog at times and it gets harder when you’ve played and maybe before the the next game your body is still sore.

“So you’ve just got to try to work that stuff out.”

Still only 30, the three-times John Eales Medallist would have no regrets missing out on a home World Cup.

“It would awesome to be a part of but I’ve been absolutely so lucky with my career,” he said.

“I’m up lapping up every game that I can get and however long that takes me, happy days.”

Hooper urged those players who are involved for the Wallabies at the 2027 edition to make the most of a huge opportunity to claim the Webb Ellis Trophy in Australia.

“It’s five years away, there’s going to be some guys who are playing now who will be involved and then there’s going to be a completely new crop fighting for positions,” he said.

“Home makes a huge difference. You’ve got that added push, that added advantage of playing in your back yard. It feels good.

“With that, though, I imagine comes some pressure to perform in your own country.

“So you can use that as a positive or a negative.”

Earlier this week Hooper said it would be “cool” to play at the Olympic Games – the next edition of which is in Paris in 2024.

“Seeing Samu [Kerevi] and the guys represent your country at an Olympics, that’s pretty special,” Hooper told the Sydney Morning Herald. “But I honestly don’t know if I could do it athletically.”

Scott Bowen, the performance manager of Rugby Australia’s sevens programs, told the SMH Hooper would be a strong sevens player.

“Hoops is an outstanding athlete – he has power, he’s immensely fit and he’s quick,” Bowen said.

“But, on top of all that, his leadership and experience would be outstanding for our group, and he would be a great addition to the core group of Australian sevens players. If he is interested, we would definitely love to have him involved in the qualification process and the Olympics.”

Ireland Test locked in

The wallabies will face Ireland for the first time since 2018 and first in the northern hemisphere since 2016 on this year’s Spring Tour.

The Irish Rugby Union announced their Test dates on Thursday with the Wallabies locked in for Saturday19th November (Nov 20 AEST).

Ireland will also play South Africa and Fiji before the Wallabies match, which is their final one of the year.

The last fixture between the two nations was back in 2018 as Ireland clinched the three-Test series with a 20-16 victory in Sydney. The last time Australia came to Dublin in 2016 Ireland had a famous 27-24 victory as Garry Ringrose scored a brilliant try to wrap up the game.

England’s next superstar?

He scored a try that melted brains last weekend and now a veteran rugby writer has compared London Irish 19-year-old Henry Arundell to Christian Cullen and Jason Robinson and urged Eddie Jones to cap him on the tour Down Under in July.

Arundell’s wonder try (you can see it in the video player on this page) was hailed as one of the all-time greats and Stuart Barnes, writing in The Times was taken back to first seeing All Blacks legend Cullen in action.

“His length-of-the-field try against Toulon last Sunday was the try of the season,” wrote Barnes. “He scored a similar try against Scotland for England Under-20 as recently as February. But that was kids’ stuff. This was European knock-out rugby away to one of the biggest clubs in France.

“Medusa-like he turned Toulon into a team of statues as he revealed that Cullen change of pace and Robinson footwork to the adult world of rugby. He is, says Declan Kidney, his astute director of rugby at London Irish, far from the finished article. Why not wait until he is the complete package?

“Because England want to win the World Cup and here is someone with the potential to change the face of the English game.”

Barnes explained the Cullen comparison.

“The New Zealander blew my mind at the 1996 Hong Kong Sevens,” Barnes wrote, comparing him to Arundell.

“He dominated the competition with his staggering side step and stunning changes of pace. Soon enough, as a 20-year-old, he was thrust into the man’s world of the All Blacks. He went on to become the greatest attacking full back in the brief history of the professional game.

“Selection isn’t about simply picking the best players. Potential comes into it. There is a World Cup looming. Players with the capacity to change a game have to be fast tracked like Cullen and Jason Robinson. Not to mention a certain Jonny Wilkinson.”

“England must take him to Australia, not to stop another country selecting him — he has way too much talent to accept the first hand offered to him — but to reignite England.

“The next Robinson? It’s a tall order. He may not be. But if he is, what a waste to explain away non-selection with inexperience the conservative excuse. Woodward won a World Cup through being a bold selector. A year and a half out from 2023, this is no time for caution, Eddie.”

Arundell qualifies for Scotland, Wales and Cyprus as well as England.

Barnes, of course, isn’t the only one in a lather.

Take this from Ben Coles in The Telegrapgh.

“The prospect of Arundell travelling as an apprentice or bolter with England made sense about a month ago before his latest barrage of remarkable tries, but now who’s to say that he wouldn’t actually feature in the matches?” wrote Coles.

“Capping him has now become a matter of urgency, even with plenty of Arundell’s game still being developed. “

And this from Robert Kitson in the Guardian.

“Sometimes … talent writes its own go-faster scripts. Modern rugby is entering an era when taking a chance is increasingly encouraged.

“There will be days when Arundell does not score length-of-the-field wonder tries and looks like a youngster with much still to learn. But every sport craves athletes capable of illuminating a stadium in an instant and rugby union, no question, has unearthed a twinkling new star.”

(With AAP)