He is undisputedly one of the greatest rugby players Australia has ever produced but David Campese has been increasingly hitting “old man shouting at clouds” areas this year.
Rugby’s great rent-a-quote popped up during the World Cup in paid “exclusives” claiming Eddie Jones and Steve Borthwick were killing rugby – that international rugby is a “joke” and a “farce” and generally moaning about the game that brought him his fortune.
Campo is at it again this week in another paid gig where he goes full dinosaur by claiming to City AM that upset rugby players shouldn’t show their emotions by crying after losses.
“The thing that really surprised me was that after the last game the Wallabies were crying on the oval,” Campese said in comments facilitated by his association with a gambling site.
“Men don’t cry. I am really sorry but I have never cried in my life. Yes, I was disappointed, I was pissed off that I lost, but we never cried.
“And then look at yourself on the big screen. Guys, really, you can have emotions if you win the World Cup. I have never cried because I have won a World Cup or lost [one].
“That’s me, I am old school. Get on with life. You’re there to do a job, you’re paid to do a job. It’s your job to go out there and do your best.”
Campo also continued his lament for how touchy-feely his sport has become.
“Rugby is pretty sad [at the moment],” Campese added.
“After the World Cup the referee gets a medal and the guy in the TMO box gets a medal. For what? What the hell for?
“They’re trying to be Fifa and we’re not Fifa. Rugby is as a sport is about entertaining, it’s about the contest.
“We’ve got a unique sport, let’s keep it unique and make it entertaining. And make sure the referee has nothing to do with the scrum, they have no idea. Let’s make a fantastic, entertaining game.”
Club World Cup plans underway
Rugby could hold a Club World Cup starting from 2028, Dominic McKay, chairman of the EPCR, the organising body for the European cups, has revealed.
Teams from Australia and New Zealand would be involved.
“There is a real warmth to develop a Club World Cup. A number of clubs from France and the UK were pushing us quite hard,” he said on Wednesday, after a conference in Toulouse this week for Champions Cup and Challenge Cup stakeholders.
“We know it’s a complicated project,” he said, citing the travel, the format and the differing schedules. We want to do something which is meaningful and has a pattern of regularity.
“We are looking at doing something, if we can, potentially in 2028 and potentially in 2032.”
McKay said the competition could be divided into two parts. The first would be based on the current Champions Cup group stage, with teams from the Top 14, the English Championship and the Vodacom URC, which, in addition to teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy, has included four South African teams since 2021.
In a second phase, the qualifiers would then face the best teams from the rest of the Southern Hemisphere, with whom, McKay said, the EPCR has had “constructive exchanges”.
Boks star retires
South Africa back row Duane Vermeulen will retire from rugby having helped the Springboks claim back-to-back World Cup titles.
Vermeulen, 37, won 76 caps in an 11-year national team career and would likely have topped a century of appearances had it not been for injuries.
He grew a reputation as a powerful tackler, strong ball-carrier and expert at the breakdown, and was a major leader within the Springbok squad.
Vermeulen won the majority of his caps at number eight, but did also play as a flanker, including in the most recent World Cup win in France last month.
“Duane will forever be regarded as one of the real hard men of South African rugby he was not only a formidable force for the Springboks but also a multifaceted player who consistently delivered his best,” South African Rugby president Mark Alexander said in a statement.
“He was a leader who captained South Africa in four tests, but he also retired as the most-capped Springbok number eight with two Rugby World Cup winners medals a wonderful achievement for a player who will be remembered as a true legend of the sport.”
Vermeulen has been linked with a move into coaching and did not discount it when asked recently.
“If you had asked me this a couple of years ago, I would probably have said no,” he said. “But when you finish (your playing career) you want to give back to the younger guys.
“If the opportunity arises, I would love to stay in the game. I love it and it is difficult to just step away when you have played professionally for 19 years.”
Galthie reflects on French ‘mourning’
Three weeks after their Rugby World Cup quarter-final exit against South Africa, France coach Fabien Galthie has finally broken his silence about the “scar that will stay with us for life”.
Hosts France were one of the favourites to win the tournament but lost a thrilling quarter-final 29-28 to the eventual champions.
“For us, it was a time of mourning,” said Galthie who has not spoken to the press since the night of the loss on October 15.
“It’s a huge disappointment after four years of hard work, four years of successful work with 80% wins and all those records.
“The only objective we wanted to achieve was to be world champions. There was no other.
“It would have been the same disappointment if we’d lost in the semi-final by one point. The disappointment would have been the same if we’d lost in the final by one point.
“The difference is that we would have had an extra week.
“The difference is enormous because we wanted to experience these moments that we’ve been working towards for four years. So the disappointment is enormous.”
Galthie, 54, took over as coach in December 2019 and reinvigorated an under-achieving team.
Last month, following France’s exit, he signed a new contract until June 2028, along with team manager Raphael Ibanez, defence coach Shaun Edwards and scrum specialist William Servat, allowing him to set his sights on the 2027 World Cup in Australia.
French rugby fans can expect more of the high-octane flare that has epitomised his team since taking over.
“Tactically and strategically, if I had to do it again, I’d do the same thing,” said Galthie.
Legendary French forward Alain Esteve has died aged 77, after a battle with cancer.
Nicknamed the Beast of Béziers, Esteve won 20 caps for his country and claimed a Five Nations title in 1973.
“A true legend of French rugby, a mythical second row with an extraordinary physique , the man nicknamed ‘Le Grand’…left his mark on French and international rugby,” said the Beziers club in a press release.
“A legend of French rugby has passed away,” said the French Rugby Federation in a statement. “The death of international number 618 will leave a great void in the history of French rugby.”
The UK Telegraph called him the ‘world’s most feared rugby player’ and and recounted a story Wales frontrow legend Bobby Windsor told of Esteve.
“When we packed down, I’d hear him say, ‘Bob-bee, Bob-bee’ and then this big fist would come through and smack you in the chops,” said Windsor. “To get my own back, I booted him in the [testicles] as hard as I could. He got up and gave me a wink. It takes a lot to scare me but I thought: ‘Bloody hell!’”