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With the end of the calendar year nearly upon us, The Roar is looking back at the sporting highlights, lowlights and moments that mattered for 2023 in Australia and beyond.
It’s now time to look back at the best quotes that have been uttered in the sporting realm over the past 12 months.
Not all of them were well thought out and two topics in particular garnered the best quotes – the ongoing Eddie Jones train wreck as Wallabies coach and Jonny Bairstow’s infamous stumping during the Ashes, which each deserved a section of their own.
What were your favourites or the ones that made your skin crawl and which ones did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.
“Liverpool were my team, but things change. I used to love Happy Days too but I don’t have posters of The Fonz on my wall anymore either.” Ange Postecoglou on whether his loyalties would be split before coaching Tottenham against the team he supported as a kid.
Nathan Lyon gives his verdict on Bazball: “It’s a load of shit if you ask me.”
“We need people with balls to shape and own the game on the pitch, not to deliver an old man’s vision of archaic, bland rugby structures.” David Campese was not a fan of Eddie Jones’ time as coach.
“I am pretty rattled to be honest, I didn’t expect this. To be among those who have won two, I didn’t expect this.” Brisbane Lions star Lachie Neale after winning a Brownlow Medal that even he didn’t think his form warranted.
“No way am I going to get another 100, that’s for sure. I’ll just slip slowly into the west.” Australian cricket legend Allan Border after revealing he has Parkinson’s disease.
“Honestly, to those who thought they were putting water on my fire, you were really adding gas to it. And now I’m really burning so bright right now.” Coco Gauff serves up a return to her critics after winning the US Open.
“A lot of credit should go to Maxi, he played his role beautifully.” Pat Cummins joking about Glenn Maxwell’s superhuman double-century at the ODI World Cup after the skipper added 12 in a 202-run match-winning eighth-wicket stand.
“No, I didn’t. I just checked my nails. No, really, it’s nothing more than that. Why would I do that to this beautiful crowd in Paris-Bercy?” Tennis villain Daniil Medvedev smirking as he ‘denied’ giving the Paris crowd the middle finger at the French Open.
“Check complete, check complete. That’s fine, perfect. Well done boys, good process.” The famous last words from the VAR official before the Liverpool vs Spurs fiasco.
“I’m not on the bones of my arse. I certainly don’t want it to sound like we’re in desperate straits, because we’re not – but we’re not living in luxury either.” Greg Chappell after the Australian cricket icon’s financial woes became public.
US sprinter Noah Lyles has the notion that to be world champions you need to take on the best from multiple countries. “You know the thing that hurts me the most? I have to watch the NBA finals and they have world champion on their heads. World champion of what? The United States?”
“It’s just staggering, miraculous, and unbelievable. What the players have done, it’s just mind-blowing.” Matildas coach Alen Stajcic after they made the semis of the World Cup.
We could fill thousands of words on this one so for brevity, we’re going the “best” from each month.
January: “The Wallabies squad is a really talented group of players with good depth – if we can have everyone fit and healthy going into the World Cup this year, I am confident that we can go to France and break the 24-year drought of winning the Rugby World Cup.”
February: When talking about his plan for the Wallabies to snaffle the World Cup later in the year. “Particularly for this one because it’s a smash and grab, we’ve got to get into the jewellery shop quickly, steal the cup and get out.”
March: “We’ve got to be junkies for winning, not junkies for possession. Possession rugby is dead. It’s dead for the moment and it’s probably going to be dead for a long period of time.”
April: “We will build a winner’s mindset in the Wallabies players, and we will win games. That will come from confidence and belief that comes through effort and sacrifice. We have the talent in Australia but not the team. This first camp and this first squad is the first step to building a winning team.”
May: “”We believe we have a quality coaching staff to plan and prepare the team for a smash and grab campaign, winning the Bledisloe Cup and finishing by winning the Rugby World Cup. It is experienced, diverse and adaptable.”
June: On the Evening Standard Rugby Podcast with former England international Lawrence Dallaglio. “I’m only coaching ’til this World Cup,” Jones told the podcast. “I’ve signed [until the end of 2027], but as I’ve made the mistake before, I’ve stayed too long. So, we win the World Cup, it will be time to go. If we lose the World Cup, it will be time to go.”
After the comments created a firestorm, he then said: “I am here for five years. But my only concentration is this Rugby World Cup, so I don’t think past that.”
July: After the Wallabies lost to Argentina … “We’re a bit like a broken car. My first car was a Datsun 1200. You’d fix the handbrake and the next day the windscreen wipers would break, and we’re a bit like that moment.”
August: After their fifth consecutive loss, a 41-17 thumping by France prior to the World Cup. “The results haven’t been good. It hasn’t been good enough. I’m not hiding away from that but we do have a longer-term plan in terms of the World Cup and that’s what we’re here for.”
September: When trying to deny a report about a potential switch to Japan as Australia’s World Cup disaster unfolded. “Someone has a story and they are running with it. And the only thing I can say is I’m committed to coach Australia. And there’s the other side of the coin that Australian Rugby who make the decision after this World Cup, whether they want to keep me or not, and that’s up to them.”
October: Making himself as a martyr as he parted ways with Rugby Australia four years ahead of schedule. “Sometimes you have to eat shit for others to eat caviar further down the track.”
November: “If they [Japan] came to me and said, ‘Are you interested in coaching them?’ I’d definitely be interested.”
Special mention goest to Rugby Australia chair Hamish McLennan for following Jones’ lead by putting his foot in his mouth repeatedly. Here he is recently, predicting he would survive a boardroom coup.
“For the record, I’m digging in. I get a weird strength from the situation because no one believes that rugby can be saved. And myself, Waughy (RA chief executive Phil Waugh) and the board will prove you all wrong.”
A few days later … “I lost the chair vote. They asked me to stay on the board but I resigned immediately.”
“That’s all you’ll be remembered for.” Stuart Broad sledging Alex Carey after he had stumped Jonny Bairstow at Lord’s in the second Ashes Test.
“England have nothing to complain about, it was a dozy bit of cricket from Jonny Bairstow.” Former England captain Mike Atherton.
“Same old Aussies, always winning.” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
“”I don’t know if it’s anger, but our unit is galvanised. If that helps us to win those key moments in the next test, then I’m all for it. (Winning) 3-2 has a nice ring to it.” England coach Brendon McCullum.
“Jonny Bairstow was dozy, but would you want that on your captaincy reign? Pat Cummins is a great guy – it was up to him to potentially say he didn’t want it to stand and withdraw the appeal. Ultimately, that’s a moment he might look back on and say ‘maybe we should have given Jonny a bit more leeway’. But Pat’s 2-0 up now.” Ex-England skipper Michael Vaughan.
“If the shoe was on the other foot, I would’ve had a think about the whole spirit of the game. But it has happened, it was out. We have to move on… Do I want to win in that manner? No.” Ben Stokes took the moral high ground. His thoughts on the spirit of cricket were more muted when he tried to claim a dubious catch off Steve Smith later in the series.
And last of all, to the man himself, here’s what Jonny Bairstow had to say, eventually: “I’ve never seen it happen from someone starting in their crease. I don’t think you want that filtering down into kids’ cricket. It’s on them. If that’s how they want to go about it and win a cricket game or what have you, then so be it.”