Australasian rugby’s 120 year swap meet

In the aftermath of the Brisbane Bledisloe break-even, my celebratory crooning of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ was abruptly muted by a snappy Steve Hansen jab to the patriotic solar plexus.

Obviously sick to death of fielding questions about the grouse feats of Aussie Mike Harris, the All Blacks coach retorted with a few choice lines about Australia’s penchant for chucking second-tier Kiwi jumbucks in the swag and shipping them back across the Tasman.

Understandably, he doesn’t like the thought of having some of his choice livestock grazing inside the enemy paddock and boosting the standard of the Australian flock, nor does he enjoy when some of them are brazenly re-branded in gold and passed off as Vegemite kids.

I’m cool with that notion. Nobody likes to see an essay that is copy-and-pasted from Google, nor does anybody like to see the English cricket team full of South Africans. And most of all, nobody likes having their stuff pinched.

This got me thinking: is this hand-me-down arrangement we have with our cousins a two-way street?

In an attempt to brain this poser, I’ve used my time at work this week wisely by going over the New Zealand honour roll for any ‘discrepancies’ regarding re-badged produce that once wore the stamp of the boxing kangaroo.

In news that will skyrocket the Wallaby rugby ego: I managed to find some Australian All Blacks!

Ben Franks ducking down to Lygon St for a skinny cap and an acoustic show.

Ben Franks

This bloke has been heavy scrummaging artillery for the All Blacks over 21 tests, but in reality he should be playing for the Wallabies or at least in the forward pocket for Hawthorn. Franks said his first g’day to the world when he was born in Melbourne back in 1984, and I can only come to the conclusion that he saw Australia’s ocean-like depth in the front row stocks and decided the Shaky Isles was a better track to international rugby.

Steve Devine

Devine was a talented halfback who spilled plenty of sweat for the NZ cause as an Auckland stalwart and a 10-test All Black, even though he cut his teeth in the rough streets of Boggabri in NSW. To make matters worse, he’s now a talented television presenter on Sky TV in his adopted homeland, meaning that we here in Australia missed out on someone who could be on the box instead of Greg Martin.

Derren Witcombe

Not only is this bloke memorable for his 5 tests for the All Blacks or the cool way he spells his first name, he’s also a household name in his birthplace of humble Hobart in Tasmania. There’s not much you can nail on Witcombe for taking the small paddle from the Apple Isle to New Zealand to play some footy; I’m pretty sure there’s absolutely nobody playing rugby in Tassie, so what other choice did he have?

Sam Harding

Take a trip to the far reaches of Perth and the moment you step from the plane you’ll hear names like Ben Cousins, John Worsfold and Sam Harding. The tough-as-nails Subiaco flanker wasn’t able to break in to the ranks of the WA Aussie Rules scene, so he left behind the questionable nightlife of the western seaboard and embarked on a memorable rugby career in New Zealand, which yielded a solitary test cap against Fiji.

Steve Devine demolished the Boggabri rep scene.

Scott McLeod

This man is an NZ rugby mainstay with 17 tests for the All Blacks and 44 Super 12 games for the Chiefs, as well as having a few fingers in various coaching pies in the current day. However, the fact of the matter is he should be imparting knowledge to sprouting youngsters here in the Australian system, as he was born a dinky-di banana-bender back in 1973 in the sun-bashed capital of Brisbane. Again, an understandable departure considering he had to deal with Queenslanders as a child.

Honorary mentions

Des Connor (Born 1935 in Brisbane, 12 caps for NZ and 12 for Australia), James Tilyard (1889 in Waratah, Tasmania, 10 NZ caps), Billy Mitchell (1890 in Melbourne, 5 NZ caps), Alfred Eckhold (1885 in Adelaide, 3 NZ caps) and William Mackrell (1881 in Milton, NSW, 1 NZ cap).

The Australasian swap meet carries on to this day after 120+ years of wheeling and dealing and stealing.

Gentlemen. Shall we call a truce after the pilfering of Harris?

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Dane Eldridge Tries Hard

Contemporary rugby league surrealism and hot takes on Shane Warne

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